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Without question, meetings and presentations as we know them will never be the same. Virtual meetings, on all of platforms, are forcing us to pivot. We have mastered the mute button (mostly) and now fully understand the need for good Wi-Fi, sound and lighting.

But this is a tricky medium. The camera sucks so much energy from virtual interactions, 30 per cent to be exact. You need to be present and animated—even when you’re not speaking.

At NATIONAL, we’ve spent the last six months working with clients to build virtual presentations and meetings to create the best moments possible, ensuring key information lands and resonates with audiences.

Here are a few of our best tips, designed to enhance your experience.

1. Get some assistance

You’ll need a tech partner—it could be internal or an external partner, depending on the scale of the event. The tech’s role is to ensure the back end runs flawlessly and supports participants.

Our tech partners are also hugely helpful during a rehearsal; they need to be fully briefed on the goals of the event and equipped with all necessary assets including logos, graphics, contact info and URLs.

2. Situate yourself

Finding the ideal place from where to present is key. Your Wi-Fi needs to be solid, as does lighting and sound.

We have all seen examples of videos where a lamp is placed at the front of the desk and cast a glow—and how that simple placement distracts from the message.

Place lighting, for example, on the floor behind you and to the side for more of a 360 effect. Experiment with your location and your rehearsal and make sure it occurs around the same time of day as your actual meeting.

You want minimum background sound—so headphones are great, but the jury is still out on the oversized gamer headset.

3. Give everyone a chance to speak

Listening and giving people proper floor time is paramount as a meeting host.

Successful hosts read cues, expressions and the body language of participants. It’s as simple as watching who puts themselves off mute to make a comment (and ensuring they have that chance), to navigating the conversation when a few people speak at once.

Calling people back into the conversation is a crucial component of creating meaningful dialogue. People are inclined to “give up” and abort their comment. Hosts need to work hard to carefully watch the audience and most importantly, manage those who tend to say too much.

4. Back it up

The trend continues towards virtual backdrops. But remember, clean and simple is key. Rather than getting too complicated, simply create a backdrop with a graphic image that ties to your content or brand. Test it out as part of the rehearsal and be prepared to tweak it if it’s not working.

Dress to impress and consider non-patterned clothing, especially against a branded background. A dress shirt and jacket or sweater work for men and a blazer and/or blouse work for women.

5. Nurture your presentation

Whether it’s a few slides or a full-scale presentation, your supporting documents must be of high design—through graphics and a beautiful mix of fonts and colours.

This is part of the virtual experience and you need to carefully consider what this should look like.

Once you have it—push for better.

These are just a few considerations to a successful virtual meeting, presentation, interview, press conference or panel.

Above all, remember that less is more. A shorter and compelling session will have more impact than a long line-up of speakers and content that can be shared in advance.

**NATIONAL has a dedicated team with experience in designing and delivering successful virtual meetings. Click here to learn more. **

——— Tara Wickwire is a former Associate Vice-President at NATIONAL Public Relations