Whether you’re an entrepreneur leading a webinar, a teacher instructing students, or a speaker taking your live presentation online, the secrets to keeping your audience’s eyes on you (and not their phone or an open window on their laptop) are the same. As a professional speaker who has appeared on thousands of stages, Chantelle Adams, a Speech Coach and Storytelling Expert, knows how to capture an audience’s attention—even if she’s not talking to them in person. Here are Chantelle’s eight strategies that can transform any online presentation from lack luster to brilliant.
1. Use A Standing Desk
“With a live audience, you can actually feed off of the crowd’s energy while you’re on stage. With an online audience, not so much. The good news is that even when you’re at home, posture and body positioning can make up for that by boosting your energy, alertness and ability to think on your feet,” says Adams.
Research shows that standing desks can lower feelings of stress and fatigue, while improving mood and energy levels. If you stand rather than sit you’ll be able to be more grounded and have freedom of movement while presenting. Both of these things will help to amplify your presence and captivate your online audience. So pick up a standing desk or stack your favourite novels under your laptop and get ready to amp up your audience with your energy!
2. Step Into Your Style
“There is a reason Broadway plays hold dress rehearsals,” notes Adams. “When actors are in full costume, they can more easily embody the character they are playing. The same is true for us. Looking the part from head to toe will help you present more passionately than if you’re in yoga pants or slippers. Not only will you show up differently energetically but you will also influence the way people perceive you. When you dress the part, you send a signal to your brain that it’s time to perform at your best. What’s more, studies show you also unlock abstract ideas and a broader perspective simply from getting creative with style. So before you step on that online stage, think about what you are communicating because your style tells a story about you and helps you show up.”
3. Visualize A Crowd
“When presenting, I often say you need to be you—times ten. This is an invitation to turn your personality, your expressions and your voice up a few notches. You can increase your energy and emotion by ignoring the fact that you’re looking at Brady Bunch squares on Zoom and imagining that there’s a jam-packed room full of people on the other side of your screen,” advises Adams. “Visualizing yourself on a stage or in a stadium full of people excited to hear your message will help you dial up your communication to match the energy of 25, 50, 100 or even thousands of people who are watching you present online.”
4. Know Your Audience
“Do your research and tailor your presentation to those who are in attendance. If you specifically address their personal situation, pain points and desired outcomes they will be more receptive to learning from you,” says Adams.
5. Engage Everyone Who Shows Up
“When preparing your presentation make sure to add in questions that will invite those in attendance to take frequent simple actions,” advises Adams. “You might ask them where they’re from or invite them to share their biggest struggle with the subject you’re about to speak about. If you encourage them to share in the chat they will stay focused on you, on the content and get more out of your presentation.”
6. Share Your Story
One of the best ways to create rapport, build credibility and deliver a memorable presentation is through the use of storytelling. “Tell your brand story powerfully by painting a picture using all the senses and adding in emotion which helps them feel like they are right there with you,” says Adams. “Go deep on one specific moment in time rather than giving a timeline of events. Share stories throughout your presentation to connect the dots from what you are teaching to how it applies in their life.”
7. Entertain Your Audience
“I have always told my speaking clients to make their speech an experience—and that goes for a live stage or online one,” suggests Adams. “How can you bring your own unique style, personality and interests to your presentation? Consider using a fun ice breaker that warms up your participants, adding in humor, getting them moving or leading them through a visualization. You might also send them something in the mail that all participants use during the presentation to create a feeling of community. You could have dance breaks and share your favorite playlist with attendees. Or you might add in funny memes or GIF’s to your slides, bring in props or play games that get them interacting and laughing. We all learn better when we are having fun!”
8. Reward Your Audience
“Everyone loves to win so make a point of having something you can give to your participants at the end of your presentation—if they stay fully engaged,” says Adams. “You could ask them to complete a survey or answer key questions at the end to be eligible to win. This invitation sets everyone up for success.”