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Public Speaking in a Virtual World: Follow These Steps and You'll Zoom Right Through

Here you are, at home and you're about to host an important Zoom call. You know there's a lot at stake and you want to feel confident when you are public speaking in the virtual world. So what do you do to show up with pizzazz and executive presence? Like with most things, preparation pays off. So begin by getting clear on your intentions and visualize the best outcome and determine how you will know that you were a success before you even open your conference streaming application. Prepare yourself mentally as I outlined in my last blog post, and read on here for the more practical tips. Once you begin your meeting, be concise since it's super easy for your audience to get distracted in virtual meetings. Forget a long introduction about what you are going to say. Just. Say. It! Then tie it back to your audience and let them know "why" it’s essential for them. If you are speaking for more than 10 minutes, ask a question, ask for opinions via chat or bring in another person to jazz it up a bit. Be animated with your face when speaking online since your audience can't see or feel your full body language. Your face, torso and hands are all you've got, so use them well! Be sure to SMILE! Vary your tone of voice and use your hands above and below your waist to fuel your public speaking and to emphasize a point. If you're presenting without being able to see who you are talking to, it’s like speaking into a void so imagine your ideal person your message is geared for on the other side of the camera. Make your public speaking over Zoom more interesting by mixing it up with images, links, screen sharing, and videos.

No matter your personal flair or your topic, this bullet list will set you up to minimize stress and maximize your success. A bit dry perhaps, but an important success formula nonetheless -:) 

  • Be sure your camera is at eye level. Grab a box or some other type of stand and test it first, so you’ll be good to go.

  • Look professional above the waist. It’s important to make a good first impression. By the way, the clothes you wear influences your confidence too. Wear a color that uplifts your mood and sense of self. If you're a woman and wear make-up, brighten up your face, with at least a bit of lipstick. :-)

  • Take up space – Your effectiveness is equivalent to how much you are showing up, both with your energy and your face on the screen.

  • Be sure your face and upper body take up most of the screen so people can see and feel you. Lean into the camera, and remember not to slump in your chair, leaving too much space between your head and the top of the screen or you won't make much of an impact.

  • Look directly into the camera. To bring out your best, your audience needs to connect with your eyes.

  • Stand if you can, like you're speaking in front of a group. This gives you more power and presence.

  • Smile! It makes a huge difference whether you are on camera or off. One thing you can do to remind yourself is to put a smiley face on a post-it and put it right above your camera lens.

  • Consider how your face is being lit – Be sure that light is coming toward you instead of behind you. Bring a lamp behind your monitor or better yet, get natural light through your window. Be sure that the light is soft and not harsh so you will look even more gorgeous.

  • Silence all tech noises and know that when you shuffle papers, everyone will hear them louder than you can imagine, so lay them out if you need them. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, silence all notifications and close other windows before you start too. 

  • Log in at least 20 minutes early to ensure everything is working well. 

  • Practice screen sharing, using the whiteboard, responding to chats, test videos and sound, and put people into breakout rooms if using, so that it’s seamless when you're live. 

So there you have it! I hope these tips help you to make the difference you are meant to make every time you are public speaking in a virtual environment.

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