With our economy tight and travel costs severely restricted in many cases, holding training and meetings virtually is becoming a very accepted standard.But presenting virtually has some challenges:
- How do you present to an audience you can't see?
- How do you keep the attention of your audience?
How often have you been in a meeting where the speaker:
- Had no oomph
- Seemed off point
- Went on incessantly
Good presentation skills in the classroom or conference room, will transfer well to the virtual arena. And there is one tool, above all others, that will make all the difference in the world:
Yes, your voice. In a virtual environment, where the audience can't really see you unless your webcam is on, the only thing you have to distinguish yourself is the quailty of your voice.
One of the first things people will notice in a virtual classroom is the sound of your voice. It needs to have some of the following characteristics in order to make a positive impression and serve your purpose as a trainer, Sales representative or meeting host, Your voice should:
- Be clear
- Sound energetic
- Not be monotone, have some inflection
- Never mumble
- Sound like its in command or focused
Voice Introduction 1
Voice introduction 2
Voice introduction 3
The first voice was monotone. Listening to this for several minutes will most likely put you into a coma or chatting with your friends while suffering through the meeting.
The second voice was unfocused. After a while you get the feeling that the speaker doesn't know where he's goinga nd that you don't want to follow him to whatever undefined place he's heading.
The third voice has energy, speaks clearly and seems to have a purpose. It grabs your attention and, if combined with other good presentation skills, will keep it.
Each of the voices you heard above left an immediate first impression. It may even have been the prompt to keep you in the meeting or to leave.
In person, we make impressions almost instantly. We have gut level reactions to how a person looks, sounds, smells (yes, too much perfume or not enough bathing will definitely make an impression) and dresses. Everything counts and it's all taken in consciously and sub-consciously within seconds.
In most virtual sessions you probably won't have a webcam on to conserve bandwidth. That leaves one main thing to keep your audience's atention: your voice! Sure it helps to have compelling content, but a boring speaker with great content will still be, well, boring!
How to Improve your Voice
If you don't feel you have a great voice, don't worry, you can do some simple things to trainit to sound better. All it takes is a little effort and the desire to sound better and improve. Here are some suggestions:
Practice your presentation - nothing makes perfect like practice. The more familiar you are with your presentation's content, the better you will sound. If you don't know your content, it will definitely show in your voice. Practice builds confidence!
Record yourself - what your ears hear is not what others hear. Most of us don't like how we sound until we get used to hearing ourselves. Record your presentations before giving them and be your own worst critic. But be fair with yourself too. Listen for the good and bad. The more you do this the better you will get.
Get Feedback from others - this is a tricky one. If people like you they may not be brutally honest. If they don't like you they may only focus on the negative. Ask people for their honest feedback and poll them on what they liked and what they didn't care for. Leave your ego at the door and let your mind be receptive and open. Feedback can be very important and will help you become a stellar presenter!
Listen to others - we are creatures of emulation. We copy mannerisms, fashions, language, etc. Watch and listen to others presenting. Take what you like and try to copy it. No, I don't want you to become that person, just feel like that person for a bit. Try to feel what a successful presenter sounds like and copy that style if it suits you. Refine it and make it your own. This is actually a pretty important step and will fast-track you to better presentations.
Get training - if after doing the above steps you still feel that your presentations are lacking, get training! There are many speech and voice-over coaches that can help you find that inner actor. They'll teach you how to breathe and project. They'll help you enunciate and feel confident with yourself and your voice. This can be priceless but, keep your hand on your wallet. Some of the trainers are looking to buy that new luxury car on your tuition...
Happy and successful presenting!