Communication plays an important role in business. Successful communication breaks down barriers and builds trust between leaders, teams, and organizations. There are different challenges of communicating virtually versus in person; however, there’s no reason why virtual speakers can’t create human connections with their virtual audience.
Over the last few years, all of us went through a crash course in virtual communication. Now settling into our post-pandemic life virtual meetings have become a fixture. From sales to marketing, onboarding, and strategic leadership presentations many meetings and events are still virtual. Why? It’s accessible, cost-efficient, and it’s the new way of how the world is working.
Public speaking is difficult in person, but there are different challenges to virtual public speaking. Leaders across industries are working on their virtual public speaking skills to engage and impact their audience. Brenden Kumarasamy, founder, and president of Master Talk shares some tips to master the art of communication with Jugo’s Neeha Curtis for an episode of Strategy for Breakfast— a GDS Group podcast about real business challenges based on real business conversations with industry leaders from around the globe.
With so many presentations and meetings, it’s hard to be always prepared. However, you can practice how to think on your feet and feel prepared to present comfortably. Brandon coaches his clients to practice spontaneity with a random word exercise.
- Pick a random word. Anything. (i.e work, trophy, cabinet, marriage)
- Create a spontaneous presentation out of thin air.
“This helps prepare better for the board room and think fast on your feet. If you can make sense out of nonsense you could make sense out of anything.”
Brenden Kumarasamy, Mastertalk
Don’t Stop Speaking
As a national news anchor, and journalism professor Neeha recommends this exercise she uses with her students to boost their observational skills and bring them into public speaking. You can do this every day to train your sight, brain, and impromptu speaking.
- Set a timer for 10-15 minutes
- Record yourself in a voice memo
- Describe what you are doing, what you are seeing, what you are feeling, observing, hearing—anything.
- The goal speaking non-stop until the timer goes off.
It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Try this exercise when you are out for a walk and your scenery is changing—describe the houses, the parked cars, neighbors you see, what the ground feels like, and what the air feels like. DON’T STOP SPEAKING. Connect your sentences. Play it back and listen to yourself, what you are saying, how you sound, and keep practicing. If 10 is too hard, try 5 minutes.
Whether you are speaking in-person or virtually using observations and interjecting them seamlessly into your speaking builds a human connection—it shows you are present, intuitive, and importantly boosts audience engagement. When you train your brain to see, observe, connect, and speak– not only will you become better at speaking on the fly but you’ll be able to make your speech sound natural, fresh, and personable. It can help take you through the screen to connect with your audience.
Play That Again
Here’s another if you need to memorize or internalize specific content, key points, or answers for anticipated questions for a meeting or speech.
- Write your content the way you want to present — a script
- Record yourself reading it out loud the way you want it to sound
- Listen to it and speak along with it as many times as you need
It helps you not only know your speech and talking points – but you will learn the inflections, the pauses, and sentiment. Listening to yourself speaking the way you want to sound builds confidence. In the same respect prepare answers for any questions you expect from the audience—record, listen, speak, and internalize.
When you know what you want to say, and how you want to say it—your audience will be grateful.
Virtual Events and Meetings Gives You Engagement Data
While it feels easier to engage in person – the downside is that you don’t get any hard data or feedback right away in the moment. For virtual meetings, this is a big advantage: hard data on audience engagement. Use virtual tools such as polls and chat features—build this into your speech or presentation. You want to make sure that you are keeping your audience engaged throughout the entire presentation. This will allow your audience to interact with you and ask questions. In Jugo, the real-time data and audience sentiment allows you to see what is resonating with your audience. You can use that information to tailor the presentation to the moment.
“Don’t ask for volunteers.”
Brenden Kumarasamy, MasterTalk
Brenden suggests in virtual events to force the interactions nicely. He says having people participate by presenting a question to the audience and asking people to respond by calling on them to create a flow.
The Outline to Rehearsal
One of the most important things to do when preparing for a virtual presentation is to create a strong outline. This will help you keep track of your thoughts and ensure that you cover all of the key points that you want to make. It’s also a good idea to practice your presentation ahead of time – in the room, stage for in person and yes even for a virtual presentation practice at the desk you will be using with the camera on and through a checklist.
- Lighting – do you look too dark or too light?
- Posture—how are you sitting?
- Notes—where are your notes? Within reach?
- Pets—where are the pets? Are they going to be distracting you?
- Comfort—do you need a footstool? Can you reach your water easily?
If you have time, Brenden suggests try doing the presentation in a test virtual event with coworkers to see what works, what doesn’t work, and what should be improved for the real event.
Logistics, environment, and comfort is often overlooked when it comes to effective virtual speaking. Jugo’s 3D environment is built for the audience– putting the focus on the content, and speaker. For virtual events and meetings- spotlighting the speakers and content is a big part of the challenge especially in conferencing platforms that are built for quick calls, not for creating a human connection with the audience.
Don’t Forget to Say Thank You
Finally, don’t forget to end your virtual presentation on a strong note. Thank your audience for their time and let them know how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions. Then, be sure to follow up after the presentation so that you can continue the conversation.
Do you want to step out of the virtual meeting boxes and make your meetings & events feel in-person? Boost engagement, productivity, and feel like a team again. Demo Jugo today.Back to resources