We’re all getting used to working from home, and that includes being a part of virtual events and giving virtual presentations. Connecting and inspiring people has never been more important, and at Encore, we want your presenters’ message to be heard loud and clear. While a professional recording studio environment is ideal, there’s a lot that you can do to improve what you already have at home. So next time you’re ‘live from the living room’ or arranging a virtual meeting, here are some helpful tips to ensure you’re maximizing the impact of your message.
If you’re planning an event with speakers who’ll be presenting remotely, we recommend saving our ‘Fail-Safe Tips’ recap at the bottom and running them through it.
1. PLATFORM PLANNING BASICS
When planning an online event or presentation from home there are a few useful strategies to consider for helping everything run smoothly. Using templated slides for introductory information like contact information and employing a script or ‘run of show’ document are two such options. Deciding in advance how to handle Q&A will help you avoid attendees talking over one another. A text or chat only option works well for large groups, while moderator selected unmuting is an alternative for smaller groups.
When the day of your event rolls around nominate someone to help get the audience properly connected by answering chat messages. You could even have some pre-canned answers to common questions ready so they can be cut and pasted into the chat box. It can also help to have someone keeping time and remind presenters to stick to their window.
2. OPTIMISE YOUR HOME INTERNET
Give your Wi-Fi router space to breath by putting it in ‘free space’ and not in a TV cabinet or hidden behind the couch. Make sure to check and tighten all cords and connections, then turn off other internet devices around the house including tablets and phones, video game systems, smart TVs and streaming devices.
Maximise your internet connection reliability by going wired from your router to your laptop or if you have to use Wi-Fi close out all the other apps on your laptop and try to use 5GHz. Wi-Fi typically works best when you’re placed 1.5 – 3 meters from the router. Measure your internet bandwidth to check latency, upload and download speed and if your internet connection is poor, you can chat with a sales consultant to see what alternative internet solutions are available.
3. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
When choosing the ideal location to present from at home, select a quiet space away from distractions and away from others. Distraction is the number one killer of concentration and engagement, so put a “Quiet Please” sign on the door to the presentation room to avoid unwanted visitors. Small children and pets may want to sit this one out! During your presentation be mindful of distracting noises like rustling piles of paper, drumming fingers, squeaky chairs, mobile phone alerts, dogs barking and typing.
4. PRESENT YOUR BEST VIRTUAL SELF
Once you’ve successfully removed potential background distractions, all eyes will now be on you! With that in mind, dress appropriately and professionally, so that your outfit does not become more memorable than your presentation. Avoid clothing with sequins, glitter or tiny stripes as they have the potential to flare light on camera, and obviously it’s not the time to wear loose, gaping shirts or entirely forget your pants.
When presenting always look at and speak to the camera, not the screen. Have good posture and try not to slouch when sitting. You could even try standing up during your presentation to mimic presenting on a stage but do minimise unnecessary movement as it can be distracting to the viewer.
5. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!
There is nothing more frustrating than when the trusty technology we’re relying on has other plans for us! So, it’s important to have a few backup options up your sleeve during your presentation to keep things running smoothly. For example, you can use computer audio for your main connection but dial into the audio from your mobile phone (but keep it on mute) as a backup. Avoid calling via Wi-Fi to prevent dropouts and have a printed version of your slides with someone else ready to share in case your computer fails.
Determine a plan for what will happen if you really can’t continue, such as having a backup presenter on the line, a change of topic at the ready or ending the session with the promise of a recording later on. Most viewers won’t even notice minor technical glitches so try not to draw attention to them.
6. FIND THE BEST LIGHTING
If you’re presenting from home there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring adequate lighting. In order to light your whole face from the front avoid sitting with your back to a window or you could be cast in shadow. Natural light does have its advantages, but you want to avoid potential distractions windows can bring, like passers-by or pigeons pacing the windowsill. A good rule of thumb is consistency and uniformity – so no dark spots in the room and no powerful bulbs which leave people seeing spots.
If you wear glasses, move the light or camera until the glare is out of your eyes. Turning down the brightness of your monitor will also reduce glare. Try testing your lighting with your virtual backdrop and either adjust the position of your lights or position yourself to maintain a good background.
7. TEST FOR CLEAR AUDIO
The quality of your audio really can make or break your entire presentation. The last thing you want is to have listeners straining to hear what you’re saying over crackling or dropouts. Look for good quality headsets and microphones which help reduce noise and disruptive echoes. Always use the best mic setup you have available – a wireless phone headset is often the best performing option, followed by wired earphones or lastly your webcam mic. For multi-party conferences, mute your microphone when you’re not speaking to avoid adding any additional background noise.
8. CHECK THE CAMERA SET UP
Whilst we aren’t aiming for a Spielberg quality production when presenting from home there are a few things you can keep in mind to optimise image quality. Always clean the camera lens and position webcams at eye level. If you use your hands a lot when you present, even consider framing the shot to include your hands. Choose a suitable professional background, but while virtual backgrounds are available on some conferencing platforms, be sure to test them first. Appearing as a floating head or having half your face melt into the backdrop might not be the effect you’re after so wear clothes that contrast well with the background colour.
If you are using a mobile device for video calls avoid unflattering or distracting angles. We recommend using self-view mode to test the angle of your camera prior to the video conference. Obscure camera angles might work for a movie director, but in a meeting environment they can be very distracting!
9. MIND YOUR MANNERS
Just like when a meeting face-to-face, it pays to have good meeting etiquette when hosting and presenting online. Be mindful of attendees in different time zones and schedule your meeting appropriately. If you’re recording the meeting, it’s polite to let everyone know ahead of time you are recording and remind them again when it commences.
Most importantly everyone needs to hear and be heard, so ask attendees to introduce themselves at the beginning, and if on audio only, ask them to state their name before they speak so everyone knows who is talking. Keep your meeting professional and on track by asking attendees to hold their comments and questions until the end. This will help avoid distractions from people talking over one another.
10. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
This may seem obvious but like with any technology, testing and rehearsing will give you the best chance for success when presenting remotely or hosting a meeting via video conference from home. If you have multiple presenters, also remember to practice handovers.
Fail-safe tips for presenting professionally from home – a summary
- Know your way around the platform you’re using. If you plan on using interactive features such as screen sharing, Q & A make sure you know how to use them confidently.
- Dedicate your Wi-Fi to your presentation by turning off other devices and be mindful of peak-times when scheduling your meeting such as school holidays when everyone is likely to be online.
- Remove any possible distractions such as pets, family members, other devices, even switching off email notifications pop ups.
- Impressions online count so think about your outfit, eye contact and gestures.
- Have Plan B ready to go if anything fails such as audio, video, if your Wi-Fi drops out or you can’t access your presentation online make sure you have it printed.
- Find the most flattering lighting and avoid any glares from your environment or screen at nighttime.
- Test the audio and video components for crystal clear sound and vision and optimise the camera angle.
- Apply the same meeting etiquette virtually as you do in-person – think about introductions, let them know if you’re recording, pause for questions etc.
- Practice makes perfect! Whilst this sounds obvious you can never be too prepared.
SPEAK TO THE VIRTUAL EVENT EXPERTS
Encore’s reliable virtual and hybrid event solutions can help overcome the challenges of bringing remote presenters and participants together for your event. At home, at work or at a venue, Encore has a solution to suit your needs.