Virtual Presenting – What’s different?

Virtual is here to stay

For the last few weeks most of our communication has been through screens with little video pics of peoples’ heads, updates on shared documents and conversations through chat rooms. And it’s not going to change anytime soon. While businesses are planning to move their workforce back to the office in due course, virtual meetings are here to stay.

I am having my fair share of experience communicating with people online. From webinars to online trainings, virtual meetings and coaching sessions – my business runs completely digital at the moment. When facilitating or presenting in a room, we have the advantage of using our body language to connect with people and make impact. Content and tone of voice are important and all 3 elements need to be congruent but body language always wins:

Showing up virtually requires a different focus to present with impact. Below 3 key areas to consider:

Content is always important but when presenting online, your audience will put even more focus on it. At the same time, it’s more challenging to keep people engaged for a long period of time:send any technical and detailed updates up front so people can get familiar with the content
share the agenda ahead and set expectations so people come prepared
keep it brief: why not have a 20 minute or 45 minute meeting?

We have to work harder when presenting online due to the lack real connection with people. We have to make sure our audience can hear and see us clearly:
• sit up straight and breathe; I even facilitate sessions standing up, helps with energy
• have good light; invest in a ring light that lights up your face but is not distracting
• talk to the camera; I have a post-it note with an arrow on top of my laptop to remind me
• use gestures but keep eye contact

Engagement means more heavy lifting when done virtually but is really important. We have to keep our audience engaged and make them part of our presentation:
• use available tools like chat, poll, whiteboard and breakout rooms
• ask participants beforehand to contribute to avoid ‘crickets’
• speak to them as if they are in the room (you vs. you guys out there)
• PowerPoint presentations: they are in service of your audience, not your content crutch. Rule of thumb: 1 image, 1 word, few bullet points animated

Presenting virtually is also part of my digital course ‘Influence with Confidence’ where I give tips and provide tools on how to show up on a screen. Find the link here:

Jessica Schubert

Jessica Schubert is a Leadership Expert, Executive Coach, Facilitator, Author and Speaker. She is obsessed with helping people realise their potential and unlock their inner genius.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Jessica has travelled the world and has spent more than 20 years leading cross-cultural teams in competitive markets throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific. As she worked with and coached her own diverse, cross-cultural teams, she came to realise that learning about yourself and developing interpersonal skills is the most powerful tool to lead and influence people around you.

In 2013 she launched Intact Teams, where she and her team have worked with thousands of leaders in organisations worldwide, delivering custom-designed leadership programs and workshops. These interactive and engaging programs are offered both virtually and in-person, helping leaders and their teams succeed in a complex and ever-changing business environment.

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Jessica Schubert