The Reality of Virtual Presentations: They’re Here to Stay

Many employees are finally going back into the office. But did you know that up to forty percent of people plan to work remotely indefinitely?

Virtual presentations and hybrid presentations, where some people are attending the meeting in the room and some remotely, will be business as usual for the foreseeable future. Below are a few tips to keep your virtual presentation skills sharp as you re-awaken the in-person work and meeting skills we’ve all had on hold for the past two years.

Virtual presentation best practices

Whether it’s a training, a meeting, a sales presentation, a marketing brainstorm, or something else entirely, a virtual presentation needs to be as effective as its in-person counterpart. To deliver on this, you’ll need to keep in mind the nuances of presenting virtually. What makes a good virtual presentation? Many of the same elements that make any presentation—with the caveat that how you execute them virtually might be different. Here are few of the most important:

  1. Start strong

    How do you start a virtual presentation? How do you do so in a way that makes everyone feel welcome and engaged? You want to grab your audience’s attention with an intro that quickly piques their interest, tells them what you’ll be talking about, and what’s in it for them if they listen and act. The Mandel SCI-PAB framework does just this in the first 60-90 seconds of your presentation.

    Once you have their attention, a full-presentation framework is a great way to keep the momentum going. The Mandel Blueprint helps you to organize your content in a way that makes it easy to follow. It’s the ideal template to help logically communicate your ideas initially—then pause to take questions as they come up— and jump back in where you left off without missing a beat.

  2. Add energy to your virtual presentations

    The best way to add energy to any presentation, virtual or otherwise, is to stand up.

    This is why practicing your presentation in advance—see below—is so important. But it’s worth it!

    Standing helps avoid many posture concerns that come with sitting, like slouching, or resting on your elbows. Moreover, standing adds natural strength and vigor to your voice. When you do stand, keep your stance open, your arms relaxed, and your movements fluid, not fidgety.

  3. Increase audience engagement

    Peppering your presentation with engagement is critical. They key is to plan ahead of time when and how you will do this.

    There are numerous ways to ask for interaction in your presentation. Most of the leading web-meeting solutions have added in specific engagement functionality. You can have attendees answer a questions verbally, type their answer into chat (presuming everyone is dialed-in online, even if they are attending in-person). You can also have attendees raise their hand or do another motion. Pro tip: phrase questions in such a way that everyone has to respond, i.e., give me a  thumbs up for “yes” and thumbs down for “no”.

    In addition, calling on people by names right from the start of your presentation lets them know that this will be an interactive meeting. It’ll keep them listening and ready. When you do call on an individual, say their name first and then pose the question.

  4. Make eye contact with your audience

    No matter the content of your presentation, getting your audience to connect with you starts with eye contact. The easiest way to create natural eye contact is to treat the camera just like a person in the room.

    • Look around and make random hold eye contact with each person (or camera) for 3-5 seconds.
    • Shift your gaze when there’s a pause in the presentation, i.e., not in the middle of a word.
    • Randomly choose who you’ll make eye contact with next.
  5. Bring authenticity to virtual presentations

    If you’ve got a sense of humor, let it show. If you’re a hand talker, make sure your camera is set to capture that aspect of your presentations. If appropriate, share a story or anecdote that’s relevant to what you’re presenting. The authentic “you” is what will connect with the members of your audience.

  6. Practice your presentations

    Practicing your presentation is pivotal. And, the more important your presentation is, the more important it is to practice delivering your content, at the site and in room you will be using, with the technology that you’ll be using on the day of the meeting.

    If possible record yourself to see:

    • How does the background look?
    • Is anything in the room drawing the focus away from you and your PowerPoint slides (if you have them)?
    • Are your slides as pared-down as they can be? Do they look inviting and easy to read?

    Practice until the features of your specific platform solution are second nature. Make sure you know how to:

    • Mute participants
    • Locate the camera, or cameras, in the room
    • Use engagement tools
    • Enable sharing, if applicable

The power of strong presentation presence

Why are virtual presentations important? In the new world of work, being able to work fluidly in a variety of modes and using multiple platforms is, and will continue to be, more critical than ever. Online product demos, new account handoffs, services reviews, it’s all going to happen online—at least some of the time.

Want to dive in a bit deeper with professional one-on-one training and coaching for yourself or your team? Let’s talk.



Picture of Heather Muir

Heather Muir

As Vice President of Marketing, Heather directs Mandel’s marketing, branding, and communications strategies in collaboration with the Executive Team. In addition, Heather leads Mandel’s public- and industry-relations activities. Prior to joining Mandel in 2010, Heather held several marketing and communications roles within the learning and training industry. She is also an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Training Industry, Inc.; eLearningGuild; and the Association of Briefing Program Managers (ABPM). Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and has completed graduate courses in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.
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