My profession is all about speaking and this is normally on a stage. Because of COVID-19 that stage is now my desk at home. I was lucky to have bought a decent webcam before the price was doubled and next day-delivery changed to 3 weeks. But the show must go on – virtually! And I think we all found out that we cannot apply the same techniques that we use in a ‘normal’ face to face presentation.
Let us start with the main difference:
Physical presentations are mostly non-verbal. Meaning that most conversation aspects are visual cues, like facial expressions, hand gestures, body movement. Virtual presentations are mostly verbal. Your voice is your most powerful weapon. This is especially true if everyone decided not to turn on their webcams. I must say that people are getting more comfortable with turning their cameras on but most of the time, good luck reading your audience.
Check out this episode of The Big Bang theory where they removed the laughing tape – this is how a virtual presentation feels.
This is the point where we start feeling like radio DJs. Just like virtual presentations, radio DJs have an audience they can’t see. They have limited (synchronous) feedback. If you make a joke, did it work? You don’t know! That can feel very awkward. Maybe your audience is rolling on the floor laughing. Again, you don’t know. So how do you work with that? Ever tried the silence-technique they teach in presentation101 in a virtual presentation? Also awkward! Works great in a face to face presentation where you prompt the audience to participate and you build in breathing room. But a moment of silence virtually really feels like one of the phone silences where you just want to ask if they are still there. Check out this episode of The Big Bang theory where they removed the laughing tape – this is how a virtual presentation feels. Every time a joke is made there is a silence and the actors are just waiting for the tape to finish.
I can go on about what works for a face to face presentation and does not work virtually. So, we need to learn from different masters! In this case Radio DJs are great teachers because they make it work. I know we are not driving anywhere so we hardly listen to radio but if you do, try to find out how they ask questions, how they use humor and other ways with just your voice to make it work. I love to hear your finding. Please leave those in the comment section below or just reach out!