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8 tips on how to present over Zoom like a pro

An indispensable communication tool during the pandemic, all signs indicate that Zoom is here to stay. Hone your Zoom presenting skills with this guide.
maura-deering
Written by Maura Deering on
Woman discussing work on video call with team members at office
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Today, Zoom is a central part of the remote workplace. It and other video conference platforms are widely used for meetings, job interviews, webinars, and presentations.

In-person presentations can be stressful enough, and having to conduct them virtually can seem even more daunting. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. Our eight pro tips for presenting over Zoom may help you feel more prepared, comfortable, and confident. Read on to find out more. 

1. Plan out your Zoom background/location ahead of time.

You can use a location in your home or a virtual Zoom background. If you select a place in your house, make sure it is uncluttered and clean. A plain wall or shelves with neatly arranged books provide a professional setting. 

Consider lighting. Soft lighting placed in front of you illuminates you evenly; sitting in front of a window can cause glare and shadows.

Make sure your background doesn't distract from you and your presentation. You don't want your audience focusing on a family photo or the dishes in the sink.

2. Test your equipment before your presentation.

Your equipment can make or break your Zoom presentation. 

To avoid surprises, check your internet connection, plug in your laptop, and ensure that your camera angle is correct and that the microphone works. 

You can confirm your internet connection, audio, and visual with a Zoom test meeting. Using a hard-wired connection rather than wifi is the safer option. And closing any applications you won't need during the presentation can conserve bandwidth. 

Taking precautions can avoid or minimize frozen screens, views of the top of your head, dead batteries, and sound problems.

3. Put notes in the right place on your screen(s).

You need your notes where you can see them, but you don't want to keep looking down or off to the side during your presentation. 

To combat this, you can use dual monitors. Position your presentation on one of them, visible to all, and your presenter's notes — plus the webcam you're using — on the other, visible only to you. 

Or you can present your slide show in a window and put a private view of your notes in another window on the same screen. Zoom provides step-by-step instructions for single and dual screens.

4. Practice Zoom presenting as if it were the real thing.

Zoom allows you to practice in the precise environment where you will be presenting. Set up your background, lighting, and screens as you will on presentation day. You can schedule a webinar practice session on Zoom and run through your presentation exactly as you will on the day. You can invite a friend to join you and offer feedback.

Practicing can make the difference between a smooth presentation or an awkward one. Rehearse as often as you can, and visit our page of public speaking tips


SEE: What tech jobs don't require public speaking?


5. Minimize clutter on your slides.

Slides are a key part of a virtual presentation and can help you and the audience stay on track. 

Slides should be easy to read and navigate. Avoid brightly colored backgrounds, complicated fonts, and too many graphics. 

Each slide should communicate one concept or idea. Avoid a long list of bullet points on a single slide.

While a slide with few words in readable, bolded font works fine, visuals like charts, maps, and illustrations or photos can be more effective and keep your audience engaged. 

6. Use easy-to-understand visuals.

Visuals liven up your Zoom presentation in ways words don't. Instead of a long list of numbers explaining company statistics, try a graph or pie chart. Visuals aid understanding and keep your audience interested. 

Explaining technical procedures with videos or illustrations rather than wordy descriptions alone enables you to show and tell. They also accommodate different learning styles within your audience.

Microsoft posts tutorials for incorporating visual elements into PowerPoint slides and inserting videos from the web or your computer.

7. Explain your agenda before you begin presenting.

Most people like to know what to expect when logging onto a meeting. Opening your presentation with a slide outlining your agenda sets the timeline for your meeting and reassures your audience. If you plan to allow audience interaction, make sure to highlight when and how in your agenda. 

You can list the points you're going to cover in your presentation on your slide(s) and/or use graphics. You can pose a question on a slide, then show how you plan to answer it. Starting off with a funny (but work-appropriate) photograph or illustration can put you and your audience at ease.

8. If appropriate, encourage your audience to interact.

Unless you have a good reason not to, encourage your audience to interact during or after your presentation. 

Some presenters ask participants to use Zoom's chat function for questions and pause the presentation periodically to answer them or wait until the end. Presenters can mute and unmute the audience and allow time for comments and questions that way. Zoom also allows for engagement through participant polls during the presentation

The size of your audience may dictate how you want to handle audience interaction.

Not allowing participant interaction risks losing your audience to their phones and other distractions.

In conclusion

The hardest part of presenting on Zoom may be the technology for some and the public speaking for others. We hope our tips help.

Online public speaking courses can help with anxiety and discomfort. Developing emotional intelligence skills can also benefit your Zoom presentations. 

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