One of the most formidable challenges for any presenter is grabbing, and holding, the audience’s attention. We live in an attention-deficit culture. There are plenty of distractions around when you’re at the front of the room presenting to an audience, but the number of possible distractions available to your audience skyrockets when you give an online presentation, which means your online presentation must be that much more compelling. Here are some tips on how to achieve just that.
Short and Sweet
While working on your online presentation, constantly remind yourself of your audience’s short attention span. If you continually remember that we live in an ADD-laden culture, you’ll be sure to keep your presentation as short and simple as possible. Don’t tell your audience everything you know, just tell them what they need to know. Don’t saddle them with an encyclopedia of information. Instead, get down to the bare bones of the material sans any extra fluff or cutesy asides.
If it’s not completely essential, take it out. Remember that your audience, on average, has an attention span of 18 minutes. That’s not very long, and when you’re presenting online the temptation to be distracted is much greater than if you’re presenting to an in-person audience. Don’t give them a reason to check their email or go to YouTube. Keep them interested with your compelling and succinct material.
You might think that because your presentation is online you can slack a little bit when it comes to your appearance, but that’s certainly not the case. Your appearance matters; it’s the first impression the audience has toward you. Make it a good one. Look professional and put together. Smile and be relaxed.
Although not all online presentations include video, be sure to begin with high energy and maintain it throughout. Your voice alone exposes a significant amount about you and your attitude. It reveals if you’re excited or bored, enthusiastic or lethargic, animated or tired. Again, don’t underestimate the amount of distraction there is available to your online audience. A great way to keep their attention throughout is with your unrelenting high energy.
Visuals are Vital
We’re visual creatures by nature. We like beautiful things. We like sunsets and rainbows and full moons and shooting stars… you get the picture. Try to keep your presentations visual, so as to retain that fleeting attention you worked so hard to get in the first place. Use as little text as possible so that you can run the show. It’s you the audience wants to hear from; they didn’t sign up to read your slides.
Particularly important with an online presentation is to make sure that the presentation of your slides with your voice is seamless. Perhaps the easiest, and worse, distraction you can impose on your audience is presenting them with a slide with a colossal amount of text on it. If they don’t know whether to listen to you or read the slide in front of them, Facebook looks like a pretty good option. Eliminate that option altogether with a compelling, visually stimulating presentation.
Thank you very much Maggie Summers who is the resident blogger over at the great Ethos3 in Nashville, Tennessee.