Recently, a Fortune 500 company asked for a presentation skills training on virtual collaboration. In our jam-packed 2-day course, new presenters learned specific skills for highly interactive virtual presentations. What we found may surprise you.

More and more organizations are gravitating towards virtual collaboration and educational webinars. The reason is simple. Save travel costs. Streamline communication. Stay connected between the regions and corporate headquarters.

But many people struggle with this: how to transform effective in-person meetings and presentations into virtual ones.

Here are 6 tips to help you engage, impress and ‘wow’ your virtual audience.

1. Step Away From The Cheese
Oops. Meant to say…slides. Step away from an over-reliance on your PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Look instead at how to create a lively, dynamic and interactive conversation.

2. Practice Conversational Art
Remember conversations? If you’re used to texting non-stop, you may have forgotten the steps and art of conversation. If you’ve forgotten how to talk to people with confidence and skill, work with an executive coach. Practice the art of conversation with a pro. He or she will help you gain comfort and poise.

Best bet to practice this skill? Talk to people more often in your workplace. You’ll remember how to open a conversation, listen, interact and close the interaction. Once you feel how good this feels in real-time, you’ll find it’s much easier to recreate online.

3. Ask Questions
In face-to-face presentations, you ask questions from the audience. Yet many presenters default into giving a one-directional pitch when in a virtual environment. Perhaps it’s because pressing the ‘unmute’ button is a little terrifying. You don’t know what people will say. Or there may be 800 people participating.

Embrace the technology and the options. Learn to ask questions that are easy to understand and easy to answer. Experiment with ways to receive participant answers.

4. Listen To Answers
Terrific. You’re asking questions and opening up the zone of interaction. Now, listen to answers in different ways. Encourage responses via chat. Ask people to embellish their responses with emoticons.

If at all possible, open up the lines of communication to hear from specific participants. Depending on your provider and system, there are different ways to include participants to encourage a lively conversation. Practice using these so that you are ready to go for impromptu interaction.

5. Tame The Technology
If you’re presenting or selling a complex or technical solution, stop. Listen to this concept. Your clients and prospects are likely in a daze when you impress them with your subject matter expertise. If you put tons of complex technology, intricate features and animation on top of an already complicated topic, guess what’s going to happen?

They will check out. Not the effect you’re looking for.

6. Show Photos, Pictures and Visuals
In planning your presentation, organize a variety of visual stimulation. Show photos of satisfied customers using your products and services. Share hand drawn pictures and sketches. Many providers include a whiteboard as a feature. Experiment with drawing simple depictions of complex concepts.

Finally, organize your visuals in slides so you can tell a powerful story. Make sure that your visuals are colorful and easy to understand. Practice showing the pictures and describing what is shown. This also helps participants who are participating via the telephone and not seeing what’s shown on the screen.

Interested in powerful presentation skills training? That’s important for your personal and business goals. Armed with these insights, expect your virtual audiences to give you a 5-star rating every time.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: