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CPA Now
Jan 14, 2021

5 Tips to Create Energy in Virtual Presentations

Angela DeFinisBy Angela DeFinis


Working remotely for nearly a year now has taught us many things about virtual interaction. Perhaps one of the most universal truths is that giving virtual presentations via Zoom or another online meeting platform can be a challenge. Many feel that online meetings lack the passion that comes naturally during face-to-face communication. And they’re right!

The fact is energy is contagious. When speaking to a live audience – whether it’s a group of 5 or 500 – your adrenaline is high and your presentation reflects that excitement. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to generate that same feeling when giving a virtual presentation in your bedroom with a sleeping cat stretched out diagonally on your comforter. You may find that you suddenly feel sleepy too, or you may even speak in a whisper so you don’t wake the cat. While stillness and calm are great skills for meditation, they don’t win the hearts and minds of your audience on a virtual platform.

Team holding a virtual meeting onlineThe secret to giving high-impact virtual presentations is energy! Create a stimulating virtual meeting by infusing excitement into both your content and your delivery. Remember that the key to a successful virtual presentation, just like a live presentation, is keeping your audience engaged. If you focus on the idea that it is your job to keep your audience interested in both the message and the messenger, then you will take the necessary steps to make that happen.

Here are a few energy-boosting tips to keep in mind.

Make Time to Prepare Your Content

Develop your virtual meeting content the same way you would for a live presentation – that means well in advance. Don’t let the casual physical environment of home dictate a loose attitude. If you don’t plan, you and your message will sound disorganized and unconvincing. Structure your virtual presentation in three distinct parts, with an opening, body, and close. When you plan your opening, start with a “hook,” establish a clear purpose, and develop an agenda. Then develop the “meat in the middle” – where the action really happens – by including stories, examples, data, statistics, and graphs. Bring your presentation to a close by summarizing what you have covered and asking for action. Remember, the way you structure your message is critical not only to helping your listeners follow along but also to keeping them engaged.

Disrupt the Pattern

Pattern disruption is a concept that works well in virtual presentations. The idea is to disrupt the normal flow of information so listeners are surprised or jolted out of complacency. Because of their 2D format, virtual presentations have to be made exciting, and pattern disruption is a strategy that never fails. What can you do to disrupt the predictable “data dump” presentation? Tell a vivid story, share a startling statistic, show a mind-altering image, raise your voice, or quicken your pace. While you don’t have as many skills and techniques available to use in a virtual presentation, you still have enough. If you use them in creative ways, you can rouse your listeners and hold their attention. Aim to disrupt the pattern every 4 to 5 minutes. When you plan these disruptions as part of your content, you’ll quickly have your listeners eating out of the palm of your virtual hand.

Prime the Energy Pump

Your physical, vocal, and verbal skills will go a long way in helping you create and maintain energy throughout a virtual presentation. Use them! Prior to your presentation jump-start your physical and vocal energy by warming up. Speak in a loud voice, practice tongue twisters, sing a song, take a walk outside or around your house, go up and down stairs, make faces in the mirror … do anything to get your heart rate and your energy up. If you speak loudly and move quickly, you will do more to create performance energy than you imagine. And don’t forget to smile and raise your eyebrows right before you sign on. If you’re happy, tell your face!

Organize and Clean Out Your Workspace

Clutter is energy draining. Therefore, remove all coffee cups, golf clubs, electric guitars, dog beds, dirty laundry, games, and puzzles. Create one area, no matter how small, that is yours and that you can keep organized, neat, and clean. If you can’t keep a neat space, use a green screen background of a “faux” organized office space.

Work with Family Members to Set Boundaries

Family or housemates can be an energy drain when you’re presenting. Develop a system of “red, yellow, and green,” and announce what kind of meeting you are entering. Red is highly important (new customer meeting), and that means everyone needs to be quiet and not interrupt. Yellow is less important (work team meeting), but quiet is still required. Green (close colleague) means anyone can come into your space and you will not have to apologize to the person you are talking to. Setting boundaries with a color code will help everyone know the rules and follow them. When you don’t have to focus on anyone else, you can focus on sustaining your energy throughout the presentation.

When conducting virtual meetings, you simply can’t depend on the influence of outside energy to give you the boost you need to perform. Only the time-tested tools of planning, preparation, and practice can do the job for you. Use these best practices and, whatever you do, don’t let the cat fall asleep in your workspace.


Angela DeFinis is president of DeFinis Communications in the San Francisco Bay area, which offers executive speech coaching, presentation skills training, and virtual video conferencing training. She can be reached at www.definiscommunications.com/contact.


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Disclaimer
Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.