The new presentation skills trends for 2021 that you need to know

By
John French

Overview

The rise of virtual presenting has changed presenting forever. Your old presentation skills are limited. Here are the new presentation skills trends you need to know.

new presentation image 1
Picture credit: Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Presenters are being forced to change with the times

Just when millions of people had mastered presenting and had overcome their public speaking fears, Covid changed presenting forever. The sad truth is that your old live presentation skills are now hugely limited. The new truth you need to connect with is that you are now a BROADCASTER, and your home has become your RECORDING STUDIO.

And how many people have broadcasting training? Virtually, none.

Being a virtual presenter in front of a laptop camera is a very different presentation situation. It was so much easier pre-Covid. In front of a live audience, you merely need to navigate yourself and your personal projections. Now, as a virtual broadcaster you need to master the art of creating presentation magic through virtual technology. And pulling off professionalism in an amateur home recording studio is not as easy as it looks.

Virtual brand ambassador considerations

There is a reason why companies spend such huge budgets on impressive reception areas, great boardrooms and expensive art collections: it creates vital brand collateral and elevates the status of the company. Now, with remote working, all that brand collateral gold is gone, and your kitchen, bedroom or shared living area has suddenly become the brand projection of the company you represent.

We must never forget that we are all brand ambassadors, and when engaging or presenting virtually, anything that the camera picks up behind or around you, suddenly becomes associated with the brand you represent.

It is critically important that staff take ownership of this brand association concept and that they make sure that everything that can be seen through the lens of a laptop camera is worthy of being associated with the brand you represent.

This is why I am such a huge advocate of professionally branded virtual backgrounds which not only shield the privacy of your home from corporate invasion, but they also elevate your status and professionalism as a virtual presenter. By using a professionally branded virtual background, the brand you represent remains visible and top of mind throughout your virtual presentation. This heightens your impact and enhances brand visibility.

Above is the Communication Guru branded virtual background I use for all my important client meetings and group training sessions. Note the impact of the strong colours which are the Communication Guru brand colours. The name of the company and website details are also clear and easily visible, and there is enough space in the centre for the virtual presenter to move freely without ‘masking’ any of the important information.

Virtual presenting considerations

Having taught virtual presentation skills solidly for the last year, these are the main areas where most virtual presenters are going wrong:

  1. Lighting – makes or breaks every virtual presenter. Insufficient front lighting or any light coming in from the sides, top or from the back of the presenter is not only incredibly unflattering, but it also casts such terrible shadows that the facial features of the presenter cannot be read. This renders the presenter a faceless dark shadow with absolutely no presence.
    Photo credit: Unsplash / Eleanor @galexieels02

    In the picture above, you will se that the young man has a strong light source coming in from his righthand side, illuminating the righthand side of his face, while there is no light coming from his left hand side, leaving it dark and devoid of features. To correct this problem, he needs a booster light in front of him on his desk to his left hand side.

  2. Camera level and angle – After sorting out your lighting, camera level and angle is the second element to get right. Most people’s laptops are generally too low. The laptop lens then ends up filming them from below which makes your poor audience feast on your your double chins, nostril hair and then up in to your ceiling!

    By correcting the camera level and angle of your laptop camera lens, you suddenly become level with, and accessible to your audience. This makes the vital emotional connection with your virtual audience far easier.

    Photo credit: Unsplash.com/@psimba77

    By not being aware of your camera angle, you might end up looking like this to your audiences. I am sure you will agree: it’s very disconcerting trying to have a conversation with a mouth, aka a person who has no eyes or nose because of the wrong camera angle.

  3. Virtual eye contact – is perhaps the hardest and most important virtual presentation skill to master. Unless a presenter makes eye contact with the audience, there is no emotional connection, and no rapport. It is here where most virtual presenters are going horribly wrong.

    Multiple screens and multiple cameras make eye contact far more complicated, and most existing boardrooms fail dismally in meeting the needs of the virtual presenter.

    What makes good virtual eye contact even more challenging is that on virtual platforms the audience exists in pictorial thumbnails all over your screen. Your audience may be dotted all over your screen, but in reality the only way to make eye contact with them is through the lens of your laptop camera. Unless you are looking and communicating into the lens of your laptop camera, you are not looking at and are not connected with your virtual audience.

    There are techniques and tricks to help master this most important of virtual presentation skills, but even a year later, I still find this the most challenging virtual presentation skill to master.

    Picture credit: Unsplash / Darshan Patel

    The fastest way to connect with another human being and build a relationship is by making eye contact with them. This is what presenters generally battle with. When you present virtually, this skill becomes even more complicated and virtual presenters need to learn how to present and make eye contact through the camera lens.

Virtual presentation skills for 2021

The virtual presenter is someone who has been able to pivot into the new virtual presenting reality and has the confidence and skills to:

  1. Build virtual relationships
  2. Keeping virtual audiences engaged
  3. Know how to make a virtual impact
  4. Influence across virtual platforms
  5. Manage IT and technical issues while still remaining calm and in control
  6. Manage the chaos of a disruptive home environment
  7. Know how to share documents / slides without losing audience connection
  8. Know the critical importance of everyone having their cameras turned on
  9. Know how to manage slides in a virtual presentation
  10. Know how to sell virtually
Photo credit: Unsplash / Mateus Campos Felipe

Summary: presentation skills for 2021

As you can see, presenting virtually requires a whole new skillset. This can be developed with virtual presentation skills training which builds self-confidence and virtual competence.

‘Virtual meeting fatigue’ is the widespread feeling of exhaustion that often occurs after attending a several virtual meetings. In my extensive experience, it is usually only poor virtual presenters that create virtual fatigue and inflict hours of uninspiring boredom on their virtual audiences, colleagues and clients.

If you and your colleagues would like to learn how to engage and present more professionally across your virtual platforms, contact John French at john@johnfrench.co.za for more information and virtual support.

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