version October 2013
Virtual Presenter: Mastering Virtual Presenter Skills: Go Beyond Online Teaching
with Virtual Presentation Skills
By Dr. Eileen Dittmar, Faculty Chair Capella University firstname.lastname@example.org
This presentation discusses tips to hone virtual presenter skills in yourself and in your students. It discusses the skills necessary for virtual presentations and as appropriate distinguishes/contrasts the differences between F2F presentations and virtual presentations. Further discussed are key components of effective virtual presentations and common mistakes to avoid. Specific resources are provided to help you transfer the information back into your classes.
1. Expand your understanding of “what is a virtual presenter” and “what a virtual presentation is.”
2. Gain ideas for educators to prepare students to perform virtual presentations.
3. Receive tips and strategies to develop an effective voice and virtual image.
4. Learn four key components of effective virtual presentations; the importance of sound, substance, and practice.
5. Capture common mistakes to avoid.
6. Obtain resources for faculty and students.
2. Common Mistakes
3. VCVT: Components for Effective Virtual Presentations
5. Sharpen a Virtual Image
6. Resources with Road Show (Drive In)
A virtual presenter delivers a communication to an audience who are not in the same place as the presenter.
With today’s available technologies, the presentation can be
A) synchronized (real time and participants are with the speaker at the same time he/she is speaking) or
B) asynchronized (not the same time as the presenter; instead participants login separately from each other and the presenter) or
Virtual presentations encompass
• Web casts
• The communication skills and the media skills align with education outcomes/curriculum.
• Each of us can hone our virtual presentation skills and embed them into our classes. It’s all about voice, content, visuals, and technology.
• Presentation is too long. It should be long enough to cover the information but short enough to hold the audience attention (average adult attention span is 20-25 minutes).
• Presenter is too monotonous in tone and pitch; use a variety of tone and pitch to create emphasis. Appropriately use silence. Edit the content to remove repeated information (expertly use intro and conclusion).
• PowerPoint overkill (i.e. busy animations are a distraction); your voice is the center of the message, not PowerPoint. Appropriately integrate visuals, content, and voice.
• Not enough rapport with the audience; audience needs to feel that the presenter cares about them. Use content and technology to hold their attention.
• No purpose or outcome of the presentation. Keep the purpose and outcome flowing to assure the audience stays with you.
• No hook or grab (do this within the first minute or two). Give a relative statistic and/or ask questions.
• No clear structure or flow.
• Not knowing the material, which looses the presenter’s credibility; practice, practice, practice (do not read to the audience).
• Weak closing; offer a powerful and natural conclusion; guide the audience about next steps.
VCVT: Components for Effective Virtual Presentations
The four components are excellent Voice, Content, Visuals, and Technology. In most situations, all four are needed to deliver an effective virtual presentation. If one or two are weak, the presentation will not be effective. Notable exception: There are situations where audio is not necessary to deliver a powerful message, which is included in the Examples section.
Develop your voice. Listen to yourself talk and work on voice level, tone, and pitch. Know when to ask a question and when to silence. Avoid monotony in tone and pitch. Attend virtual presentations for ideas. In a virtual presentation, the speaker voice must be excellent; however, excellent voice without content, visuals, and technology hinders the effectiveness. Free web tools for practice: Wispera, MyBrainShark, LiveCage, Audacity (more information about these provided in the Resources).
Preparing content for a virtual presentation is similar to preparing for a F2F presentation but with some noted differences as discussed next.
If a presenter delivers a virtual presentation similar to the F2F presentation, it probably will be a flop. However with that said, begin by preparing content in the same manner as a F2F presentation, but then refine the content to be succinct, crisp, clear, and engaging (offer no lag time, which gives the audience a chance to check email or other distractions).
Keep in mind that a virtual audience has more distractions than a F2F audience.
Start with an attention getting introduction. Typically, the virtual presenter has less than a minute to earn the audience’s confidence and grab their focus toward your message. Spend a minute or less telling them what you will detail in the presentation
Present relevant, compelling information offering “why the message is credible;” statistics or rationale for its importance. Integrate what the audience should do with the information. Keep it simple yet detailed enough to hold the audience attention. Bring the audience “in” with your ideas and avoid just talking “at” them. Keep the flow 1st, 2nd, 3rd, last, to engage the audience.
Conclude with short recap of the message and suggested next steps or follow up.
Ideas for developing presentation content are available on the Internet and in books. However, when developing content for a virtual presentation the content needs to extra succinct, crisp, and clear. Virtual presenters may not have the option to cut or adapt information based on the audience’s body or voice feedback.
Appropriately use visuals and beware of the PowerPoint overkill (i.e. busy animations). Remember, it is the content that matters; visuals should enhance the content. The virtual audience is at a computer (or mobile device) and only sees what is on the computer/device screen.
Hold the audience captive with compelling visuals while using your voice to say key items of the presentation.
While there are numerous visual options, presentation software is the most popular (i.e. MS PowerPoint, Google Presentation, ZoHo, OpenOffice).
The virtual presenter can take the audience on a tour of software and/or into web sites.
The Resources section offers ideas for visuals.
Technology can make or break the virtual presentation. The presenter may have superb voice, content, and visuals; but without knowing and using available technology, forget earning five-star ratings. Master the platform where the virtual meeting is to be held by A) completing the tutorials; B) whenever possible attend another presenter’s meeting in the platform; C) gain expertise with its audio-visual tools; D) make sure presentation content and visuals align with the platform. Virtual presenter’s computer and headset must be capable of handling the platform’s technology.
Examples: Eluminate, Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meeting Center, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Adobe Connect; however, there are more with ongoing updates and new products. Oftentimes the virtual presenter has no input about the platform but is expected to learn and use it (typically excellent tutorials and assistance is provided). Another term for the platform is Web Conferencing
Mastering the platform requires knowledge of the audio and visual aspects of it. Further, the presenter needs to know what the audience is experiencing throughout the presentation.
Oftentimes, it is best for the presenter to log into the meeting with two different computers (unless a facilitator does this): one logged in as the presenter and the other logged in as a participant.
Two Comparisons of Web Conferencing Vendors:
Virtual presenters need to practice the four components until mastered. Then put them all together and practice the virtual presentation.
With each step of the practice, the presentation continues to be fine-tuned.
Probably a dozen or more practices should be enough to be ready for the event.
Sharpen a Virtual Image
Everything a participant hears or sees reflects on the presenter’s image. Virtual participants bring high expectations to the event and are easily distracted.
Virtual presenters demonstrate leadership, knowledge, confidence, and the VCVT items discussed in this presentation.
The advance event communications and those that follow further affect the presenter’s image. Once a virtual image has been damaged, correcting it requires 360 degree debrief and improvement planning to avoid a subsequent instance.
Slideshare Description: Slideshare is an excellent way to share presentations, documents and professional videos. Easy to get a free account to upload and share. For ideas and examples: (1) on home page, review the featured presentations, (2) click “popular” in the top menu or (3) search by topics of interest.
http://www.slideshare.net/about has two examples; first without audio, second with audio.
Alison Topper (2011) created this presentation without audio http://www.slideshare.net/alisontopper/a-comparison-of-2-social-bookmarking-sites, which compares Delicious (http://delicious.com) and Diigo (http:/diigo.com). The presentation also provides basic information about social bookmarking.
SlideShare’s Help page: http://help.slideshare.com/home
Search from the topics listed on the home page and the most popular appear. When opening them, you’ll see that most presentations are without audio.
SlideShare Instructions for audio using Slidecast to insert mp3 file with Slideshare: http://help.slideshare.com/entries/57609-can-you-describe-how-to-create-a-slidecast-step-by-step
Example: click the video on the home page
Prezi Description Educators praise Prezi; it is among the hottest tools to gain educator attention this past couple of years. The site is easy yet effective for creating and sharing presentations. Many call it the PowerPoint Alternative, but much better than PowerPoint. View “What is Prezi” video and tour of its features on the Prezi home page.
Prezi for Education: Come on, you know your students are tired of PowerPoint – get on the Prezi bandwagon quick and easy. Ideas: Place a course introduction in Prezi to show your first day of class. Prezi gives faculty the chance to think outside the box and help our students to think more creatively.
Virtual Presenter Guide LiveBinder
Description: Eileen developed this guide for you and it is packed full of resources! It is designed for both student and faculty use.
Visual “What is Communication”
See session’s pdf for a visual: Siliguri Branch of EIRC. (2004). Improving communication skills. Retrieved January 14, 2012, from bscsb3.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/9/6/4896809/ali_ahmad.ppt
Powerful Presentations Begin with a BANG!
Communication expert Gary Hankins explains the 4 ways to grab attention and focus the audience on your subject. While the information is intended for “F2F presentations” some ideas also apply to “virtual presentations.”
A short summary of the video follows:
STAR = Four-step process to focus the audience into your ideas.
S: Startle the audience to grab their attention.
T: Tell a story such as a case study or scenario that is familiar to the audience and relative to your presentation topic.
A: Ask a question that is relative to the presentation message you will be delivering but making sure you are covering key items the audience wants.
R: Recite a quote or statistic which can be authorative to build confidence that your ideas are worthy of the participant’s attention.
Description: Amazingly easy to create audio podcasts saved as mp3 file to share in email, messages, and websites. Brainshark offers other features usable in education. The advanced features for a fee are not needed.
BrainShark for Education: Use to practice sharpening your voice. Guide students to use it as a way to develop their voice and speeches.
Description: AudioExpert is a free and simple online audio editor, file converter and sound recorder. It provides the standard functionality of an audio editor with an easy way to create a ringtone for cell phone. In addition, AudioExpert is a powerful audio file converter which will allows modifying file format, bit rate, frequency, etc. Use computer’s camera and microphone with AudioExpert to record audio.
Main Features: Make use of it to analyse audio files and extract detailed information about the format.
Cut or crop audio files in just a few clicks. Merge multiple files into a single audio track. Convert files between all of the popular audio formats (WAV, MP3, OGG, M4A, AAC, FLAC, AU, AMR, WMA, MKA).
Record audio off a microphone or another sound device and save it directly to WAV, MP3, WMA, OGG, etc. Convert multiple files at once by means of batch processing.
http://www.chirbit.com/Description: Chirbit is an online tool that enables users to record, upload and share voice or audio files. Record voice using a webcam or microphone, or upload an existing audio file. Files can be shared on twitter, facebook, email, your blog, or smartphone.
Description: These sites offers i-Pad apps for recording audio.
Audacity (free software for most devices)
Description: Sophisticated, comprehensive audio creation and editing software. For longer audio files, Audacity offers the chance to edit the file, which can be important when professional results are desired. Further Audacity files integrate with other software and web tools; however, training and practice is needed.
Tutorial on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcccpilvXKE (note, you’ll need to click into the various tutorials once inside the main window).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqrnCFLSWkU – Audacity tutorial Part 1 tutorial about downloading Audacity and installing it. It also goes through understanding its interface.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQJyI-Jj8Ts – Audacity tutorial Part 2. Tutorial for creating and editing in Audacity.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGocD5a12-w – Audacity Tutorial for importing audio file.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7BZjjH4I9M – Audacity Tutorial for editing audio file.
Ideas for the Virtual Presentation’s Content
In addition to presentation software (i.e. PowerPoint, Google, OpenOffice), Slideshare, and Prezi already discussed, below are free web tools to help jazz your content.
Description: Amazing way to create a collection of websites.
LiveBinders for Education: Faculty can use a LiveBinder as part of a presentation or offered as study information (resources you want your students to use). Faculty can ask students to create a LiveBinder of their own personal resources related to coursework; LiveBinders can also assist with student’s personal career development plan.
http://livebinders.com/play/play/224967 Integrating Mobile Technology with Learning. Note that this binder is for students and faculty.
http://www.livebinders.com/edit?id=269550 Virtual Presenter Guide; tips for creating powerful presentations. Note that this binder is for students and faculty.
http://livebinders.com/play/play/110787 Teach 21 Century Business. Note that this binder is for faculty (not students).
http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=76391 Teaching Business Resource. Note that this binder is for faculty (not students).
http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=62246 Educator Resource. Note that this binder is for faculty (not students).
Description: Glogging is a blog, notetaking, and/or PowerPoint alternative, which creates a visual that is printable or viewable on a computer or mobile device. The “presentation” is created on a virtual poster; audio and video can be added.
Glogster for Education: Excellent for students and faculty. Works great for one or two minute lessons, tutorials, short stories such as debrief or prep for a job interview. Examples for faculty: create topic information for any course, ideas for open house or first class of the semester are: “About my Course,” “About my Program,” or MyClass Rules.” Students can develop course content knowledge, sharp communication skills, and technology skills at the same time — a component of 21st Century Skills. Link below offer examples.