Presentation Skills via Zoom

Last week I did a workshop for ISE Partners on ‘Presentation skills via Zoom’ to an online audience of 40 people in corporate sector roles, from finance, to technology and consulting.  

Presentation skills are a timeless tool, and are ever more important as you rise up the ranks, regardless of your role and industry when you need to know how to present a presentation well.

When I speak to clients, including Executives, they often have anxiety about doing a presentation or speech as it’s connected to the fact that they’ve never been taught how to deliver a good presentation, or what the components are that need to be considered.

Other common challenges I hear include: lacking time to effectively prepare; not knowing how to be persuasive enough to get the audience to respond, like acting or doing something; and simply, not knowing where to start. 

If these challenges resonate with you then you’re not alone. 

I’ve got a lot of experience supporting Executives and my clients on presentation skills including presentation via zoom

I’ve heard these challenges from my clients through to the Executives that I used to work with at one of Australia’s top 4 banks. 

In this role, I was entrusted to help these Executives to prepare for presentations to the Executive Board, often on a strategic business decision, like a restructure; or rehearse for a speech to customer dinner speeches with 500 people in a jam-packed ballroom, including politicians, the CEO and Chairman.

Recently in my capacity as Founder of the Women’s Vault and a Women in Leadership trainer, I have been working with several clients on preparing for job interviews including key messages and their introductory ‘elevator pitch’ for the classic first question, “tell me about you”. 

I have also recently worked with another client on preparing for their ‘pitch’ on why they should be made Partner at their law firm.

In this scenario, we’ve invested around 12 hours to prepare for this pitch, from key messages to memorable stories, rehearsal techniques, battling nerves and body language. 

Low and High stakes presentations 

It’s important to effectively prepare for all presentations, whether they are high stakes ones, like the ones I described above, through to low stakes ones, like having a coffee with a mentor whether physically or over a zoom meeting. I encourage my clients and the people I work with to consider these moments as “presentation opportunities”.

These are an opportunity to flex your presentation skills, from a bit more about you to create a connection with your audience with a story; listen carefully to their concerns so that you can understand this audience better; and think about delivering in a confident way - with clear key messages and clarity of thought, not a rambling stream of consciousness (which I know I can do when I’m particularly tired!). 

Presentation via Zoom / virtually is particularly challenging and there are some key tenants that are important to get right. 

Firstly, you need to know how to present effectively and go back to the components of what makes a good presentation, from understanding your audience, to knowing how to present yourself as a credible speaker. 

You also need to have a lot of energy - almost double than what you would have for an in-person presentation and you need to be a lot more animated. The reason why is that you are creating a different visual and auditory experience for the viewer.

When you are delivering over the Zoom app it’s also helpful to ask the audience to pop their screens on and be prepared to share screens. 

Presenter View- Your and the audience’s body language - read it

I deliver a lot of Masterclasses and workshops over Zoom and I personally need to see my audience to be able to read their body language I make my screen full screen and can see which key messages, stories and lessons are resonating. 

Equally, I can see where I need to move on from a point, or stop and ask a question if I can see them starting to “glaze over” or shuffling in their seats. 

Being able to read this body language and also pick up on where one of my audience member’s is to ask a question or share a comment is incredibly helpful.

I personally enjoy delivering Masterclasses that are very interactive - it makes a rich and well rounded experience. 
It also creates auditory interest by having different voices throughout. In turn this creates stronger engagement. 

Here are some of my tips that I delivered in the presentation:

  1. Know your audience - spend time upfront considering their challenges, obstacles and motivations. This is always time well spent. If you’re unsure, then ask a colleague or interview a stakeholder.
  2. Ask audience members to contribute or play a video - it makes a good auditory experience for the viewer or listener and increases engagement throughout - you’ll have an interested audience, rather than a bored one checking social media!
  3. Be prepared to have a lot of energy for presentations via Zoom - you need to be animated and use different tones and pitch to create auditory interest.
  4. Bonus tip: Spent more time rehearsing and developing your key messages or script than you do on your slides. What you say is most important.

A recording and additional materials for this workshop are available. Watch this space.


If you’d like my support one on one for an important presentation or speech, email me at oliviabath@thewomensvault.com