The Covid-19 pandemic has forced all of us to conduct most of our business meetings from home using video call platforms such as Zoom.
If you are wondering what the best method is to deal with this unique challenge, world-renowned TedX speaker and public speaking coach Jose Ucar has the following helpful advice for you.
Plan Your Expected Outcome
“Make sure you are clear on what you want your audience to take away and plan how to get them there from beginning to end,” Jose advises. “It’s important to start where they are to then lead them throughout the whole process.”
One way to ensure your audience follows the process is to provide them with a brief explaining what you are going to cover during the meeting. Jose is a big fan of this approach.
Watch Your Audience
It is important to be aware of the impression you are creating and the level of trust you are building at all times during your session.
“Pay attention to any signs that may indicate they are losing attention in order to draw them back in,” Jose recommends. “As our attention span decreases, trainers and coaches need to get creative about ways to captivate their audience to ensure they benefit from the learning experience.”
Rapport Is Key
“From dressing accordingly for the occasion to the use of fun, it’s important that you build a connection with your audience from the very beginning,” Jose explains. “This will set you up for success as long as you follow this up with great content and delivery.”
“A simple and quick round of introductions can make a huge difference in building connection. Ice breakers tend to be a great way to build rapport right from the start by bridging the gap between the speaker and the audience.”
“It goes without saying that a sense of curiosity will go a long way in connecting with your listeners. If numbers allow, call them by their names, play and ask them questions about themselves, the content and learning experience. Include your audience in your delivery instead of talking at them.”
Present Your Content In An Interesting Way
“Apart from the obvious, which is delivering content that provides value or that meets the audience’s criteria, prepare it in a way that excites them instead of putting them to sleep,” Jose advises.
According to the Neuro-Linguist Programming Communication Model, the mind can only retain seven to nine pieces of information at one time. This means it is vital to present your ideas concisely and in a way that keeps your audience interested. Jose advises:
Include plenty of humour and stories in your talk or presentation.
It is better to have no slides than bad slides, as speaking personally to the audience can yield better results than using visuals.
Show and tell if your idea requires it.
Limit each slide to a single core idea. Simpler slides will work better than a complex one.
Present data in an easy-to-understand format. Otherwise, why present it?
Practice Good Body Language
Body language is important whenever you talk to audience. On Zoom, there is a heavy focus on your face and voice so you need to be expressive and vary your tone to emphasise key areas of your content. You should also make sure you have a good camera, lighting and a decent microphone. Jose believes the following can help:
Keep your hand gestures away from your face to allow your listeners to see your face, giving them the ability to better understand your communication.
Practice your genuine smile, encouraging the eyebrows to rise very slightly.
Give an ear to others through a gentle head tilt to one side. Pick the side you feel most comfortable with.
“It’s impossible to not communicate so pay attention to the effect your body language is having on the audience and how they react to it,” Jose advises. “Notice what’s working and do more of it. Ask curious questions and provide enough group interactions via breakout rooms. Platforms like Miro and Mural can become quite handy as well.”
Facilitate Q&As And Follow-Up
“Create spaces for people to ask questions, exchange ideas and share opinions and knowledge,” Jose recommends. “This can be done throughout the presentation or at the end. I personally like to do it during, at the end and even after I’ve delivered my topic.”
“I want to make sure they understand the content I’ve delivered and most importantly that they apply it. I want them to take action, and a good way to encourage this is by setting some goals at the end of the session and creating accountability teams where members support each other to do what they’ve set out to achieve.”
“At the end of my presentations, I like to provide a summary of what’s been presented, discussed and agreed. I then send this as a follow-up after the session.”