Ahead of the CASE Europe Annual Conference, Emma shares her tips for keeping virtual audiences engaged, planning the session and avoiding tech pitfalls.

The CASE Europe Annual Conference is only a week away and for the first time will be delivered virtually. Speakers have had to adapt to presenting online and here Emma shares her tips for keeping audiences engaged, planning the session and avoiding tech pitfalls.

Emma is presenting with Nicola Smock, Events Manager, University of Glasgow, at a breakfast roundtable session, Student Recruitment Events, Shaping Future Delivery, 9am, Thursday 18 November

Creating your perfect setup: Lights, camera, action!

  • Microphone and sound: If you are around arm’s length from your laptop/computer then the inbuilt microphone on your digital camera, laptop or computer, will be good enough for the recording. Avoid background noise, you need to find a nice quiet environment and remember to mute any notifications that may go off during the session. 

  • Lighting: In general, you want to find a nice bright space for your session. Light can really help to lift a session so avoid dull, dark rooms. Avoid any lights being too bright (i.e. windows) as your camera will pick up the light differently.

  • Background: Keep it clean and simple, try to avoid virtual backgrounds – often they can cut off part of your face which can be distracting for your audience

  • Internet Connection: A hardwired connection is always best, test your internet speed in advance of the day.  

Standing vs sitting 

It is harder to hold the audience’s attention if you are sitting in front of your camera for the whole presentation. If you do present sitting down, you should be just over an extended arm’s length away from the camera. This will allow you to have a bit more expression when you are presenting.

Start with the end in mind

Plan for how your session will end before you start. What is the objective of your session? Think of your session as a story you and your audience will embark upon together. How does this story end: a call to action, an answer to a question you posed, or maybe a new perspective?

Be audience-centric 

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and personalise your content and approach to align with their needs.

Content is King

Adapt your content for a virtual delivery, instead of just delivering information using traditional face to face methods. 

Keep it short and sweet

Audiences tend to absorb more if you are concise and to the point – if you’re using slides try not to overload them with information. 

Eye contact

Find the camera lens and talk to it. I find it easier to talk to my camera as if I was talking to a friend. Looking straight at the camera will result in you connecting directly with your audience, which will make for a far more engaging experience.

This is easier if you have two monitors – one to see your audience, the second to share your presentation. 

Be interactive 

Keep your audience engaged throughout your session, by ensuring you have a two-way dialogue – even if it’s asking your audience to raise their hands to say yes or no to a question. 

Pause

It’s easy to fall into the habit of talking fast when your mind is racing, so it is essential that you get comfortable with implementing pauses into your public speaking. As well as helping with pacing, you can use pauses strategically, inserting them after important points to let them sink in or right before to allow you to gather your thoughts and get the audience’s attention for what you’re about to say.

Bring the energy

Zoom fatigue is real! Your energy is so important – go big. Your audience is essentially watching a tv show and you’re the lead character. Remember to have fun with it!

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