The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the normal flow of work in companies, as well as the smooth-flowing academic calendars in education institutions across the U.S. and in other parts of the world.
In response, businesses and the academe decided to play the safe card by shifting to remote work and learning setups as a way of continuing their processes while keeping everyone safe from potential COVID-19 transmissions.
Data show that there are around 1.2 billion schoolchildren from 186 countries who were severely affected by the closure of schools as part of government response. Meanwhile, remote workers now comprise around 20 to 30 percent of all full-time employees, up from the five percent range pre-pandemic.
In such a dramatic and abrupt shift to distance learning and remote work, virtual meetings and presentations become the normal mode of communication and collaboration among workmates, as well as teachers and learners. In these virtual meetings, the presenter has a huge responsibility to ensure that audience members are attentive from beginning to end to fully benefit from the presentations.
If you’re up to present your materials soon via Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, here are five simple tricks to grab your audience’s attention throughout your virtual meeting:
Use a professionally-rendered audio/video material
There’s true wisdom behind Bread’s lyrics: “If a picture paints a thousand words…”
That wisdom is the simple fact that one can convey in a single image or picture a message that’s worth one thousand words. This is actually the same principle used in movies inspired by novels and short stories.
As such, you can use motion graphics and video animation produced by a professional studio if you have a big presentation coming up. The beauty of having a part of your presentation rendered in animation or motion graphics is that you’re sure to grab your audience’s attention to the material, especially if it’s really well-done based on a great concept.
Finally, you’ll have tremendous freedom in directing the content of the final output since the production team will pick your brains out and translate your vision into collateral that you can use for educational or marketing purposes.
Tease them with the end
In literature, they call it foreshadowing: giving the readers hints of what the end of the story would be. What this technique does is to make the audience stick to the story until the end since their curiosity was already piqued by the initial hint that the author has given them.
You can apply this very same method if your presentation happens to end with something that’s quite explosive or interesting. By starting off your discussion with a small window into your material’s endpoint, you’ll leave the audience wanting to finish the presentation just to satisfy their curiosity.
Use your voice to evoke emotions
The human voice is a powerful tool to evoke emotions in people and it can be a tremendous aid in making your audience hooked into whatever it is you’re presenting them. By raising or lowering your voice depending on the idea you’re presenting, you’re helping the audience process your material and connect to it emotionally, as well as intellectually.
Just remember to temper your voice to the actual idea that you’re presenting, since using the wrong tone could actually backfire as it could confuse the audience in what it is that you’re actually trying to convey.
Use humor, if possible
Who doesn’t love a good laugh, right?
If you’re presenting before a serious audience or discussing a scholarly topic, an unexpected pun is enough to break the ice and let the audience loosen up, even if you’re not seeing them face-to-face.
This use of humor, when done appropriately and delivered at the perfect moment, could be enough to hook your virtual audience and make them genuinely listen to your presentation instead of dozing off on their seats.
Tell a story
Humans are hardwired to want to listen to a good story. In fact, humans have been telling each other tales of struggles, triumphs, defeats, and many other experiences in songs and epics, both in the written and spoken forms.
Tap into that human nature and tell a quick story that is related to the topic you’re presenting. Make it short, but sweet. And watch as your online audience members genuinely show in their faces just how hooked they are in the material you’re presenting to them.
There are other equally awesome ways to grab audiences’ attention but these five would be enough to keep your presentation a success.