Key Communication Skills – Online and Face to Face
For most people, the sudden shift in online presentations came as something of a shock in 2019. Online programmes such as ‘skype’ was one of few and rarely used programmes for work and Zoom hadn’t yet entered our vocabulary.
The thought of doing a serious and impactful presentation online wouldn’t have crossed our minds.
With a single virus all of us were impacted – for some, it meant the worst of times, and others quietly adjusted to a new normal. We all found ways to adapt but Covid changed the way we work for good.
Many businesses have now set a ‘return to work’ policy and life on the surface is back to Pre-C times. We’ve enjoyed the odd photograph of ‘come to work in your covid WFH outfits’….but for others the balance of working in the office and at home has developed especially in industries previous adverse to the WFH mentality.
Our clients are reporting significant upheaval with this new ‘normal’. For some, it was easier when it was all online and the mix between the two is causing increased stress as we struggle to adapt to very different methods of presentation.
We’ve seen schedules that include back-to-back presentations and pitches switching between online and in-person, and generally even the in-person work meetings regularly include some online aspect with people off work/WFH.
Even for the most stalwart returning companies, the likelihood is, that this hybrid method of communication is set to stay so it’s a good time to take stock of what presentation skills are required.
In the early days of the virus, it was entirely acceptable to fumble the pitch, technology aside, we were all finding which backgrounds worked, and what our pace should be. But now, there is an expectation we’ve addressed these issues and we should be able to slickly present online and in person.
Our clients are reporting an increase in anxiety made all the more challenging by the fact that there is an expectation to have got it right – and reaching out takes courage.
We’ve shared below some of our key tips for both methods which might just nudge you in the right direction. That being said, there is no doubt that a session with one of our highly trained, inspiring and motivated coaches could be just what you need to address this long-term issue.
Top Tips on Communication Skills for Online Presenting/Pitching
BACKGROUND– make sure you sit centrally in the shot and have a non-distracting background. Be cautious of the blurred background which can look very strange to the viewer
EYE CONTACT– remember to where possible favour the camera, so the audience gets the sense of being really spoken too
POSTURE– it’s easy to slump when sitting at a desk. Sit up straight, with your bottom right back in the chair for support, giving yourself an energised posture. If you’re struggling with an active seated position, then try a standing desk
ENGAGEMENT: Find ways of sustaining engagement with the viewer – ask questions, give interactive activities, create discussions – be brave and gently pick out quiet people to answer questions
ENERGY– whilst it can be hard to feel energised when alone at your desk you need it for your audience to get that sense of passion, enthusiasm and energy. Go for a brisk walk, move, get your body in action before taking to your desk to present. Participants will pick up on lack of engagement and distractions
PURPOSE – be clear on the objective of the session and what you want your audience to feel. It helps with engagement and keeps you in the mindset of communication
Presenting online removes many of the non-verbal cues so you need to work harder with the tone of your voice, your energy, physical posture and content to ensure they are fully inhabited to convey meaning and keep your listening audience engaged.
Top Tips for Face to Face Presenting
VOICE: it’s easy for the energy beneath the voice to drop and we stop being ‘on voice’. Really think of the voice coming from your diaphragmatic breath, to ensure it is resonant. You’ll need to raise your vocal energy for a face-to-face presentation
BODY: shake out the whole body as part of warming up. Think of throwing away the nerves through the feet and hands. We want gestures to be connected to thought, not connected to the adrenaline
PACE: be mindful of your pace, especially when presenting as a group- as your fellow speakers will pick up your pace. Use the breath to steady yourself
WARM UP: getting the full body engaged before you present- just as you would before exercise. Remember the audience will be taking in a lot of non-verbal messages from you, not just listening to the content.
ROLE MODELS: find role models at work who you find compelling, and notice what it is they do. Can you practise these qualities?; the way they address an audience, the way they stand or choose to move? Become super observant when watching others present
MOVEMENT: Practise taking space and moving as you speak to keep you energised and to keep a more engaged audience. Pacing up and down isn’t the answer but practise will allow you to work out what feels authentic and natural without zapping the energy
Communication Skills Required for Presenting on Line and In Person
Content matters – the message you want to convey needs to be focused
Practice – Online or face to face this single word is perhaps the most important. Knowing presentations can suddenly change it’s worth practising online and face to face so you know the content and your energy works
Warm Up your Voice – crawling out of bed and scraping yourself from desk to board room is not going to give you the best energy, do a few vocal exercises at the least prior to beginning
Don’t forget yourself – stories, humour, personal insights show your engagement with the subject and encourage the participants to engage at the same time
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The Communication Collective work throughout the UK and internationally.
To get in touch with one of the team, please email, phone, or use the form below.
Charlotte: 07966 538 159 / Celia: 07793 560 649