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Be your best online and in the room – the future’s hybrid

Written by Lyn Roseaman on Thursday, 02 July 2020. Posted in Audience, Sales & Marketing

The future of meetings and events is uncertain, but what is clear is that they will be hybrid – more meetings taking place online rather than travel that lasts longer than the meeting itself.

Be your best online and in the room – the future’s hybrid

The future of meetings and events is uncertain, but what is clear is that they will be hybrid – more meetings taking place online rather than travel that lasts longer than the meeting itself. And a growing combination of both in-person and online presentations, tapping into the benefits of people joining from far and wide.

Online is here to stay. We need to ace our online presentations with personal confidence, connection with our audiences and a message that will drive change if we want to stay visible, have clients and employees who enjoy working with us, and thrive in our businesses.

Personal Confidence

Confident energy is essential online to make our audience feel comfortable and choose to stay tuned in. Lyn Roseaman notes in her book ‘Now You’re Talking!’ confidence “helps us reveal our enthusiasm and passion for our subject, engage with our audience, and generate a real sense of fun and excitement.” Here’s how.

You’re on the small screen

Being online is like having a close up. You’re on the small screen and the camera will pick up every detail, expression and gesture. Is there anything your camera and mic are sharing that you don’t want the world to see and hear, e.g. an unmade bed or a dog barking? Is your lighting making you look your best? Ensure the light is behind the camera so that you’re not plunged into shadow, but not dazzling and making you squint or obliterating your eyes if you wear glasses. Capture a screenshot before you go live and know you look the part.

Check your tech

Relying on technology can feel like working with children and animals. With all the checks in the world, things can still go wrong. If they do, keep calm, explain what’s happening and fix the problem. If you can it’s a good idea to invite a participant to take care of the tech while you focus on delivery.

Share confident energy

  • A genuine smile
  • An open and stable posture that will reduce any distracting movement
  • Dial down movement with an open and stable posture and small gestures. Online, you’re on the small screen and big gestures will overwhelm or fall out of view
  • Set the camera at just above eye level and look directly into the lens (not at the faces on your monitor) for open and sincere eye contact
  • Breathe into the abdomen and relax your upper body so that your vocal tone is rich and strong and you mic doesn’t pick up any sign of nerves in your voice.

Audience Connection

Picture people queueing up to talk to you after you’ve given a talk. They’re there because you’ve connected with them, both in terms of the value you’ve given and the way you’ve made them feel.

The question demanding an answer

As a meeting host or presenter, it’s your responsibility to know your listeners and answer their all-important ‘What’s In It For Me’ question. In the opening seconds of your meeting or event, your audience will decide whether to stay or tune out, so give them a reason to keep listening. Know your audience and ask yourself if you’re delivering something of value or wasting their time? Could this be done better using a different format? For instance, if you’re simply updating people, would an email be more effective? Have you invited just those people who really need to be there and will feel the benefit?

The power of ‘YOU’

In the English language, ‘you’ power implies a one-to-one conversation in the singular and, in the plural, includes everyone, creating both a strong feeling of inclusivity and a personal connection.

Go further and make sure 70% of the time is interactive and collaborative, rather than a one-way presentation. To help things run smoothly, set ground rules online for listening to each other and not all talking at the same time!

Share a story not a screen

Human beings are hard wired to connect through storytelling and this comes into its own when we’re online. It makes us relatable, likable, engaging and memorable. And all the more so when we tell a relevant personal story, openly and honestly.

In stark contrast, sharing your screen and wading through bullet points is neither engaging nor memorable and fast-track to losing your listeners. Prioritise relevant storytelling at every opportunity.

Driving Change

Online meetings, events and conversations are our opportunity to remain visible and develop new habits for working together.

Fresh ideas for unmissable meetings

This is an opportunity to rethink the purpose of meetings and events, their frequency, who needs to attend, etc. It’s also an opportunity to ensure we are really relevant and stand out so that participants want to attend and see a value in doing so.

Start at the end of your presentation or meeting with how you want your listeners to think, feel or act after they’ve experienced what you have to say. Identify a message that is new and on point and then incorporate only content that supports it.

Make it memorable and end with a call to action that justifies people’s attendance and put plans in place to follow up.

Keep it short and simple

People’s attention spans tend to be short and can be even shorter online, so it’s crucial to get to the point and stay relevant.

Make your presentation easy to understand by structuring it in a way that makes easy to follow. A structure, such as pros & cons, or following a timeline can be useful. Divide your presentation into small segments of some five minutes each. Introduce each segment with what you plan to cover and close with a brief summation as you segue to the next one. It is also a good idea to provide signposts. If your audience can see a clear ‘road map’ for your presentation it will help them keep with you.

The need to talk and present convincingly online is here to stay. Prepare to go hybrid for the benefit of you and your business. In future we will need to shine and be our best online AND in physical locations, with our real audience in the same room.

About the Author

Lyn Roseaman

Lyn Roseaman is a Distinguished Toastmaster at Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management.

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