Behind the scenes

Make sure you create a professional environment to record or live stream your presentation. If you are in the office, find a quiet space to present and remember to let your colleagues know when you are presenting live.

Similarly, when presenting from home it is important to let other occupants of the house know. Avoid presenting in shared rooms, find a quiet room in the house with a closed door. Put a sign on the door when you are presenting to remind people not to interrupt.

It essential that people see you clearly.

  • Make sure you have good front-facing lighting.
  • Avoid windows in the background, if unavoidable close the curtains.
  • Whilst natural light is often the best choice, if your filming/presenting location doesn’t have natural light, consider moving lamps around or purchasing supplemental lighting to enhance your image.

Choose a background that enhances your professional image and is aligned with your message.

Avoid a cluttered background or anything that can be distracting such as people walking around or moving images. Avoid virtual backgrounds as they can be distracting, instead try a more professional cleaner look such as a bookcase.

If using a virtual background, be sure to test it out first!

A TEST RUN is essential so that you are comfortable with the platform and its features.

Consider having a co-host or helper assist to you with the technology so you can focus on your presentation.

Practice with the same technical set-up (computer, internet connection, audio and video equipment) that you will use when you deliver or record the presentation.

You will use your own device for your presentation. It is essential that you use a laptop or desktop computer, rather than a mobile device for your presentation.

If you are using a Mac, make sure to try sharing your screen at https://zoom.us/test ahead of your session so that you can grant Zoom the appropriate permissions. Doing so requires you to restart the application (which you won’t want to do during your session).

While delegates may forgive a less than perfect video, if they cannot clearly hear you, they will likely leave your presentation early. Audio is always clearer when using a microphone, whether that is through headphones with an inbuilt microphone or an external microphone. Choose your recording space based on the amount of background noise there is. Avoid areas where you can hear traffic, the heating and cooling system, or voices from another room. Practising your presentation with family, friends or colleagues is a great way to get familiarise yourself with presenting live and to get feedback on your audio settings. You should practice with the same technical configurations and location that you will use for your presentation.

You can use https://zoom.us/test to test your Zoom audio in advance.

Make sure your connection speed is 2 Mbps upload, 4 Mbps download or better. You can test your Internet connection speed at SpeedTest.net. If possible, plug your computer directly into your modem using an Ethernet cable. This will give you the strongest signal and most stable internet connection. The last thing you want to happen during your presentation is to have a weak or unstable internet connection.

When presenting in the live Q&A don’t get side-tracked by the chats and questions coming in during your presentation. You will be shocked at how distracting it can be to your train of thought if you attempt to read the chats/questions whilst speaking. If you are presenting a pre-recorded session, you will be able to answer questions in the live Q&A session at the end of the presentation which will be chaired by the session chairperson. All questions from the live Q&A’s will be sent to presenters after the conference.

When you share your screen during your presentation, attendees will see exactly what you see. This means you will not be able to use the presenter view setting in PowerPoint, unless you have multiple monitors and can manage the screen sharing settings easily. For ease, we recommend you have your notes printed or a separate device.

When preparing notes for your presentation keep them concise and use dot points to jog your memory. Avoid writing out a full script, reading word for word can be distracting and obvious to viewers.

Check your presentation and/or slides for confidential or sensitive information. Although delegates are asked to acknowledge and agree to the virtual conference Terms & Conditions (which includes no unauthorized photography or recording of conference material), the reality is that we cannot enforce this rule in an online environment. You should assume attendees could take photographs, screen shots, audio, or video recordings.

Techniques

When you are the one speaking, look directly into your computer’s camera, not at the screen or at other participants. This takes some practice, but it makes the viewer feel as if you are looking right at them. Some presenters turn off their self-view so that they aren’t distracted by their own image.

Try not to have your camera too far above or below you. A camera too high can make it difficult to maintain eye contact, as you may find your gaze dropping as you speak.

When presenting look directly at the camera, avoid looking at yourself or other presenters.

If you are part of a panel or team of presenters, make sure you are aware of when your camera is on. If you are not speaking but your camera is on, make sure you look like you are paying attention.

You want the camera to frame your face, neck, and shoulders. People are drawn to faces, so you do not want to lose that connection by being too far away. You also don’t want your face to take over the whole screen. Practice your positioning and distance.

Perhaps consider placing some tape on the floor during your rehearsal so you know where to stand or sit during your live presentation.

Just like in a live presentation, you want to present with energy and animation. Being too slow or too monotone in your voice makes it easy for delegates to disengage and tune out. Speaking in a clear, bright voice goes a long way. Try to enunciate each word, but do not overthink, as it can make you sound robotic. You may even want to try smiling while presenting, as this can make your voice sound a little more approachable. Keeping people connected virtually requires you to be engaging with your presentation.

Unlike presenting in front of a real-time audience, getting the pacing right can be difficult. Keep things steady without rushing or crawling at a snail’s pace. If you tend to be a fast talker in real life, practice slowing down just a bit. If you are a slow talker, you may want to speed up just a bit. Use family, friends or colleagues to practice speaking to, ask them if they think you are talking too slow or fast.

Learn to recognise your use of filler words such as ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’, which in turn will help decrease the use.

Just as if you were doing an in-person presentation, craft your presentation to engage the audience. Incorporate chats, polls, gamification, etc. Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience engagement.

While we do not expect virtual presenters to be in three-piece suits or high heels and pearls, business casual or smart casual attire is recommended. Also, consider how the colours or patterns of your clothes will look on a small screen. Small patterns and sometimes even stripes can be distracting through a digital screen. If you have chosen to use a virtual background you will need to test out what clothes interfere; green and some dark colours can pick up the virtual background.

Again, just like in face-to-face presentations, audiences connect to authenticity, so be yourself! Let your personality shine through. Have fun. If you look like you’re enjoying the presentation so will others. Research shows that happy people retain information better than those who are bored or disinterested.

Still have some questions?

Please email us at mail@conferencedesign.com.au and we’ll be happy to assist.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.
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