Turn your home office in a home stage for effective online presentations.
Even though most people in the world currently work from home, they continue holding presentations. Life does not stand still; it simply gets shifted online for the most parts. Decisions still have to be made, customers won or employees informed. The classic meeting software may support to replace smaller meetings and internal consultations. However, what happens to the important company communication events? How do strategic presentations work without anyone present, for instance? How do you transform a home office into an effective stage?
In order to answer these questions, we at Explain, agency for holistic presentations, brought a taskforce into life covering all areas concerning the topic “how to present online”. Our own quarterly review event served as a case study. In this article we describe our lessons learned and which tools everyone has at their disposal for online presentations.
Presenting from home. A topic which many people have on their minds in times of this pandemic. Especially because up to 25 percent of the employees work from home – among them numerous managers and quite often even the boss himself. Live presentations, meetings, trainings, strategy events – they all fall victim to the contact ban. They are replaced by web meetings, webinars, online presentations. So far, so good?
The technical obstacles are in general manageable. Slides are shared for everyone to see, contents are communicated, the dramaturgy is changed into a digital journey, the physical room gives way to a virtual one. But how can the speaker unfurl its full power once more? After all, being the sender of the message, he is the focus of the presentation.
The speaker in the spotlight
Face to face, at eyelevel, vis-à-vis – when we look for words to describe a conversation, many expressions derive from the human face. It is obvious. Because looking at a face is a prerequisite so that mirror neurons can do their work. This resonant system in our brain makes sure that we may interpret feelings, feel empathy and understand reasons. And therefore the speaker has an important role in a presentation – through his mimics, his charisma and personality. And while the slides take over the screen during a web meeting, the speaker’s impact is limited to a tiny video window. This might work for a short meeting. However, it is insufficient when it comes to strategic presentations, crisis communication or when you enter a partnership.
As a presentation agency this has a huge impact especially on us. On the one hand, our customers should continue reaching their objective with their presentations. Annual kick-off event, recruiting, sales, success strategies, crisis management or shareholder meetings – these presentations are important parts of the company management. And most of it has to take place digitally for now. On the other hand, we also live a strong presentation culture and have our own high presentation standards. Therefore, we set up a taskforce to work on the topic „how to present online“. As a case study we used the upcoming quarterly review event at Explain.
The boss as a customer
The quarterly review event at Explain is traditionally put into scenery with presentations. Jonas Keller, CEO at Explain, steps in front of the team and talks about objectives, new employees or strategic changes (among them this time: the corona pandemic). Every employee shall get transparent insights into upcoming and past decisions. Proximity and trust play an important role in this way of communication. Thus, it is generally organized with a larger agenda reaching from a get-together to having drinks together after work.
This time, however, a digital experience was required as the Explain employees also work from home. The boss was now accompanied through the process like a customer. The objective: an effective strategy presentation which works from his office at home, involves the audience and leads the speaker back into the spotlight.
The living room as a studio
Several settings were tested in advance. The simplest possibility was to use a streaming software. In this way, it is possible to influence the interface of the presentation with little effort and to feed the signal in every meeting software. Specifically, this means: the speaker can also put the video upright next to the slide and presents – side-by-slide so to speak – in a higher resolution next to the slide. With a little more effort, the speaker video may also be integrated into the layout of the slide. Content, slide and speaker blend together in a virtual room. Numerous possibilities present themselves in a physical room with a greenscreen, as well. The speaker can even be cropped and presents as usual in front of his slide.
It is always the little things, of course, which have an impact on the quality. For instance, making eye contact at eye-level creates an especially close effect. The laptop simply must be placed on top of a stack of books or a box to achieve it. Or blur the light with a transparent curtain. Many improvements can be reached with simple tools.
Clear the stage
Within one week’s time, the video settings were defined and the slides were adapted respectively. We decided to use a combination of various settings which were able to be changed during the presentation. Moreover, we integrated a video teaser, a countdown, music and interactive Easter Eggs for the employees. Then, it was time. Clear the stage for the first quarterly review in the way of online presenting.
Jonas Keller talked about current challenges, gained knowledge and little victories. Inbetween the messages, slide layouts and video settings changed smoothly. He as speaker was always in the employees‘ focus, interacted with the slides and was also able to use gestures as usual. Even his mimics were clearly visible. However, not everything went as planned, obviously. The bandwidth was responsible for one or two moments in which the video transmission was rather jerky. And, as it sometimes happens, some participants were accidentally logged out of the online meeting because of technical issues.
Even if the time will come and most of the employees will return to their work places, the topic online presentation will definitely stay in focus. It offers a solution for working together from different places in global groups, for the communication with international freelancers or digital nomads, for a voluntary home office and a lot more. And thus, this unexpected situation helps us to get ready for the future.
So that you may also present successfully from home in the future.
Use the virtual background for an uncomplicated and successful staging.
Integrate your video picture in high quality next to or on the slide.
Get to a new dimension of presenting with a green screen.
We set up your professional presentation studio in your company.
Book our Explain studio in Karlsruhe for your next online presentation.
Coming up in the next 15 key learnings, we give you insights into our most important experiences about the content, the slides, the speaker, the room and the dramaturgy.
We are happy to inform you about how you can bring your online presentation to a new level and what a project may look like when working with us.