Powerful presenting in a hybrid world

Presenting in 2024 is underpinned by hybrid expectations, seamless technology integration and a need for continued mastery of presentation basics.

Hybrid presenting has become ubiquitous (The New Normal – Virtual and Hybrid Presentations: Developing Content, Designing Slides, and Delivery Guidelines – Jacqueline Gartner-Schmidt, 2022 (sagepub.com). Presenters are faced with the same challenges of connecting and engaging with full auditoriums and boardrooms, while also managing a handful or potentially hundreds of online viewers.

With the option of attending presentations virtually now standard, comes an opportunity for larger audiences and the integration of support technologies. However, now more than ever, presenters must practice core presentation skills and plan ahead to ensure optimal delivery.

Lights, camera, action

It’s true that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Use your pre-presentation time effectively to expertly set-up your presentation space both virtually and physically. Consider how both audiences will receive the information and remember their equal importance.

Ensure to test your technology, position your camera appropriately, ensure lighting is optimal and your presentation tools do not detract from your words. Any audience member will lose focus if they struggle to hear or see, are presented with numerous technical challenges and distractions, or feel left out.

Captivate and connect

How you start a presentation sets the tone for the audience.

Ultimately, powerful presenting is underpinned by creating a connection with your audience, maintaining their focus, and delivering on a clear purpose.

Focus on building rapport within the first few moments by using natural language. Clearly define the presentation purpose and create an understanding of how the audience will benefit from the time they have with you and the information being relayed.

Manage audience attention

Stanford University research described the “fatigue” virtual meeting members can feel with video conferences exhausting to the human mind and body.

That’s why it’s often recommended that hybrid events are kept brief where possible. Other means of overcoming ebbs in audience attention include:

  • Repeating questions and answers for the benefit of your virtual audience.
  • Rotating questions between live and remote audience members to avoid the former group dominating discussions.
  • Encouraging both live and remote audience members to engage by using a “raise hand” approach.
  • Maintaining eye contact with the camera and the faces in the room.

Read the room and zoom

Arguably the most difficult demand of a hybrid presentation is the need to simultaneously split your attention between an audience in two different physical settings (online and in-person).

As a presenter, you must monitor, connect, and engage with two disparate groups within different environments.

Conquering this challenge comes mostly with practice. However, you will have stay in tune with your audiences to regularly redirect your focus as needed.

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