How to Prep Your Visuals and Content to for Remote Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Perhaps the hardest thing about doing an innovative presentation remotely — whether with active participants in a videoconference or webinar or in a recorded presentation — is not seeing your audience directly. (Studies show that not seeing you, the presenter, in person makes attending remote presentations difficult, too.) If creating compelling visuals and a speech that packs a punch is essential for in-person presentations, it’s critically important for remote presentations.

The visual impact and voice inflection of virtual presentations are perhaps more important than for in-person presentations. Your viewer may be reading text messages or packing a suitcase while absentmindedly watching your video online. Your visuals need to be so eye-catching, your words so stirring that the viewer stops and pays attention and really listens to what you have to say.

Just as you would for an in-person presentation, you want to analyze your audience and create a targeted message before you begin designing your content and visuals.

Whether you’re a one-person show or a participate in an online event, allow time for your introduction and closing and question breaks in addition to your actual presentation. Interactive webinars usually run from 60 minutes for a marketing event to 90 minutes for an educational event.

Videoconferences and webcasts or recorded presentations vary based on the focus; you may have just 15 minutes to present your case in videoconference with a decision maker. Recorded presentations can run the gamut from a 30-second video or a 6-minute vlog (video log) that’s a sort of commercial for your product or service to a several-hour training session that’s broken into separate chapters.

People pay attention and learn best in 20-minute chunks of time, so even if your presentation is longer than that, incorporate a break or a change of pace with a guest speaker, video, or activity at the 20-minute mark.

It goes without saying that your visuals should enhance what you’re saying. A visual can be a phrase on a clean background, a graph, diagram, or image. Rather than show a list of bulleted facts and describe the impact, show an image of the impact and tell a story that describes the facts.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, when you absolutely must use words, choose a sans serif font, such as Arial or Helvetica, in 24 point or larger and leave a margin around the visual to allow for letterboxing.

To explain complex ideas, use builds, which visually show a chart, diagram, or other visual and add pieces of information as you talk about them. As the layers build, your audience is able to follow and understand the makeup and entirety of a visual or information chunk.

Show the complete image with a recap at the end. You want the viewer to stay with you and your words, not jump ahead or fall behind trying to decipher your image. At the beginning, tell viewers you’ll supply notes from your presentation so they don’t have to worry about writing everything down.

Some viewers may watch your presentation on a small-screen device — all the more reason to keep visuals plain and simple.

During a videoconference, use interactivity to your advantage. Highlight specific parts of your visuals with onscreen pointers and overlays. When appropriate, ask for input and, if possible, let viewers point and highlight your slides or use a working document or virtual whiteboard. Prepare questions for your participants that can be used throughout your presentation or meeting.

Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again. When you present at a webinar or videoconference, you must speak fluidly and confidently to hold the viewers’ attention.