To make your meeting stand out from the daily marathon of online meetings, you need your presentation, especially of financial or other important data, to be distinctive and considered. Copy-pasting a chart from your monthly report into PowerPoint may save time but it is the best way to turn your audience off on a video call.
Draw Your Audience’s Eyes To The Right Point At The Right Time
Live presentations die when a speaker, standing at a lectern, gestures in the vague direction of the screen and says, “As you can see here, the value is going up or down.”
Nobody in the audience knows what the speaker was pointing at and the point is lost. This problem is even more true when presenting remotely. If you want your audience to see a data point on a chart, you must explicitly draw your audience’s eyes to the part of the screen you are referring to. You can make your mouse a better “pointer” or use special spotlight software to do so. Or, rethink the slide design and use arrows and callouts to grab your audience’s attention.
Do A Progressive Reveal Of Complex Charts
Remember, the first time an attendee sees a chart, they have no idea what they’re seeing. To share any kind of chart, you must choose: either build a chart that can be understood in milliseconds, or take the time to explain to the audience what they are looking at. If you build it piece by piece, your audience will be able to follow and understand very complicated insights. TV journalists demonstrate this skill well.
These reveals can be built in PowerPoint, or you can use the animation features now available in analytics tools. However you do it, remember that a chart must be understandable in under half the time it is on the screen. So, if you’ve only got a minute for the slide, the chart needs to be instantly digestible. If only the complex chart will do, then build it piece by piece and give it the time needed for your audience to understand it.
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Keep It Simple
Everything you can do to make your content simpler will increase audience engagement. Ensure your charts fill the slide: don’t leave them floating in a sea of white space. Change the fonts so that the most important content is quickly readable. Use colour to highlight the most important data points. Ditch the corporate slide background so that people focus on the chart, not the whizzy graphics.
Make It Buzz
Getting your audience out of a Zoom-slumber means applying new ways of engaging your audience and connecting them with you. Instead of revealing the latest insights, hide them and ask people to guess the numbers, then reveal them. Always build in ‘open mic’ moments for questions: stop and let people discuss their reactions to data. You could even switch off the screen share. If you kill the slides before sharing the numbers, the physicality of your face on screen will get them to engage. Put simply: don’t forget you are part of a multi-media performance and you must maximise this.
Listen To A Friendly Critic
Finally, always be on the lookout for continuous improvement. Plant someone in the audience who you trust to give you unvarnished feedback. Tell the person to message you if your presentation starts wandering because, like your audience, remote conferencing can dull your senses too. Instant feedback can jolt you back on track to tell your data story with renewed clarity. Also seek your critic’s honest feedback afterwards. Thank your critic, and maybe you can do the same for them.