June 19, 2020
With virtual presentations and webinars, you never quite know if the room is with you. Did a doctor leave the room, or is he checking his crockpot? Now that many of your customers are working from home, you're likely to be making more and more consequential presentations online. Ergo, it's essential to adapt your style, minus the handwaving, to the medium. Otherwise, your audience may have difficulty staying awake.
Pitching a medical device to doctors online has some of the dynamics of a smart IRL presentation. On Zoom, though, it's harder to pick-up the glassy-eyed look of attendees effectively tuning out. It's not you, sleepy eyes the nature of online: attendees have other distractions in their room – kids, food, ringing doorbells – you name it. The first challenge then is to maintain attention.
Get your audience focused on an intriguing slide while people are joining the meeting. You can pay off the visual when you start the show. For example, if one of your benefits is engaging patients, kick it off with an image of a patient sound asleep on their sofa.
Geeky tricks: a caution
Both Keynote and PowerPoint are rich with animation features. While movement grabs attention, you need to balance the impact against the possibility of a technical glitch. Make sure that you use animation to communicate key points and not just for the sake of flashiness. Especially if you are presenting about a high-tech medical device or service, dropping the ball on a PowerPoint slide could rattle your audience. And just like a web page, loading delays are irritating to everyone, so use a fast machine. If slides reside on an online platform, be careful about the memory size of audio, video, and image files.
Keep slides simple and keep them moving
We've all seen slides packed with copy and bullet points that remain on the screen while the presenter drones on. This approach isn't great in real life, and online, it's a surefire tranquilizer.
That's why your slide deck for a virtual meeting should be heftier than what you use in a customer's conference room. If possible, make one point per slide, and edit your bullet points, so they aren't redundant with what you're saying. For example, this bullet, "In 2020, our product was tested in space at the International Space Station," could easily be cut to "Tested in space." Instead of reading from a slide, design concise ones that illustrate and underscore your main message. Then your audience will focus on you and what you're saying rather than sorting through a mass of copy.
Use different voices
Unless you're Samuel L. Jackson, one person presenting for 15 or 20 minutes is tiring. Try breaking up your deck and let someone else from your team take a section or two. Short videos are also useful for product demonstrations or testimonials. And try mixing up the audio with pre-recorded clips of KOLs and your internal experts.
Write a script
If you're a seasoned presenter, you may not need a script. A few notes might do the trick. Otherwise, you can be concise and strike a better balance between visuals and what you say. You'll avoid getting stuck on a slide and keep the presentation moving.
The mouse, mobile and high contrast images
Zero in on the mechanics for your slide design. Make sure that the shape, size, and color draw the eye to the central message. Use strong color contrast., and keep in mind that not everyone has the same desktop rig as you do. Simplicity and brevity also helpful when your presentation resizes to fit mobile and tablet screens. For some of us, one of the downfalls of online is the inability to make our points and talk with our hands.
It's best not to depend on a mouse pointer to guide the audience's attention either. Use your words, for example, "on the chart's second row, you can see…" or "On the right side of the screen, we have...
Make sure you have the right technology
Zoom has become synonymous with online meetings and happy hours. Look around for a platform that matches your style, content, and method of presenting. Some include features that let you know when an attendee's attention wanders by sensing when someone is reading an email or opening up Pokemon. See Cantera's review on presentation platforms. With real-time feedback, you can change your pace, jump ahead, or identify portions of your presentation that need a judicious edit.
Check your shot
You have a script and a slide deck with compelling visuals. Now make sure that your laptop camera isn't pointing up your nostrils. Make the location of the camera level with your eyes and keep the bright lights in front of you and more diffuse light to your back. Turning on additional room lights can help, and don't back yourself up against a window.
You're ready to go. Lights. Camera. Action.