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Do This One Thing to Connect Better with your Virtual Audience

If you're like me, you don't really enjoy attending anything online any more. First it was awkward and weird, then it was the new normal - and these days, well, I still miss the cups of tea and Danish pastries - because more and more companies have seized the opportunity to avoid the high cost of meeting actually and chosen to make events virtual instead.

I miss those darkened rooms. And wow - we had no idea how much we took those Danish pastries for granted huh?

Before I knew it, I was sitting in a gas meter cupboard, trying to give all my comms skills to a screen of faces, or sometimes not even faces, just blank squares.

Over the past years, we've had to get good at this new normal. As everyone who leads or presents, facilitates or sells has started to get used to speaking in the virtual world, I've had to alter my skillset to help teach people to make an impact and influence their audience online instead.


Are you and your business prepared to continue presenting online for the foreseeable future? Most companies are not prepared. Most speakers hoped it would be a short hiatus, but more and more important events across a wide range of industries are happening solely online.

The culture is changing. Virtual is here to stay.


How should you respond, what steps should you take it to improve your presentations, your impact virtually.

The truth is...

It's not so different from before. To connect - you need to put your focus on building that connection.

As the novelist E M Forster said: "Only Connect".

Let's me clarify. It's always been about the audience. And now it really is about the audience. It's harder to keep their attention, it's hard to connect to them, to influence and make an impact on them. But you have to design your entire presentation with them in mind. (Which you should have been doing before).

Make it something that you would enjoy attending. If you wouldn't sit through it, why should they? - Especially holding their attention is harder than ever.

Making a connection to them is - as it always was - about thinking about them as you prepare your presentation. It should still aim to make them think, feel and do something. In short, it's about starting and finishing from their perspective.

Make it about them and the difference between the virtual and the actual will start to melt away.


When they watch you, how will you be presented? Just your face? You from the waist up? You and a whiteboard, or you and a presentation. These days, you have to share their attention with the presentation because watching both now is problematically small. Sort out the technical issues around this first in order to ensure that the connection.


Think about your audience. Write from the perspective of someone sitting at home watching a screen. Break up your chunks of text, use music, video, anything that will hold attention. But first and foremost, write your speech to make them think, feel and do something and come from their direction from the beginning!


AUTHOR: Public Speaking Coach Mark Westbrook



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