Turn your home office in a home stage for effective online presentations.

How to present online

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.

Home Studio


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.

Corporate Studio

We set up your professional presentation studio in your company.

Explain Studio

Book our Explain studio in Karlsruhe for your next online presentation.

In the Explain Academy you will learn how to effectively present online and offline.

Key Learnings

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.

01 Content

How to get your messages digitally transferable.
  1. Reduce your content to the most important messages. This is how you get to the point before the internet connection, the cat, the postman or other factors end your meeting.
  2. Think about what has been a guarantee of success in your live presentations and convey it into your digital setting.
  3. Avoid stiff and lengthy structures. With a linked slide you stay flexible and you can switch to talk to your audience at any time.
02 Slides

How slides should change in your online presentation.
  1. Scrutinise the function of each slide and reduce the slide deck to the absolute necessary parts. Replace small texts with eye-catching pictures.
  2. Time-consuming animations, effects and slide transitions often collide with the available bandwidth. Therefore, use design elements on the slide.
  3. Most of the PowerPoint templates are not meant for online presentations. Therefore, scrutinise font size, colours or layouts.
03 Speaker

How the speaker impresses in spite of a digital barrier.
  1. Talk clearly and vary the pitch and speed. Use recordings to get to know your own voice and how to use it.
  2. The dress code for webmeetings: muted colours with sufficient contrast to the background. And please do not wear stripes… they flicker.
  3. Regard your body language. Stronger mimics and less gestures may be used online.
04 Room

How a real and a virtual room can be staged effectively.
  1. Position your camera at eye-level and make sure to have sufficient lighting coming from the correct angle. Curtains are useful to soften strong sunlight.
  2. Your homeoffice transforms into an effective stage with a green screen, video lights, table microphone and a webcam.
  3. With a fitting streaming software you can integrate the speaker on the slide and create a virtual setting. Just like on the television news.
05 Dramaturgy

How you plan and implement a digital audience journey.
  1. Apart from the classic meeting software you can also use streaming software, digital workshop tools, social media and event software.
  2. Break through the digital barrier. Think about interactions with the audience which take place in “real life”.
  3. Think of a contingency plan. Even though, best case scenario, you may never need it.

Contact us for a free consultancy service.

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.

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