How to Engage Your Audience in Online Presentations 

How to Engage Your Audience in Online Presentations 

Very often, during our training courses with some of the biggest organisations in the world, we get asked the same question: How do I keep my online audience engaged? We know how many people are worried about engagement because, think about it  when you are online and people turn off their cameras and mics, you simply lose touch. You can’t see them. You can’t hear them. Are they there at all? 

It’s not at all lost! We know how important it is for you to achieve your presentation goals and to do that in the online world, you need to double your efforts in engaging the audience and retaining their attention. In fact, we have a full-length e-book on that, Presenting Virtually, but here’s a sneak peek at some of its contents, namely, audience engagement in an online environment. 

For the sake of this article, we thought we could call it The Triple S rule (Software, Story delivery, Slide design) for audience engagement in online presentations. Read on. 

Software or the importance of knowing your tools 

So, you’ve organised the presentation, sent out the agenda and made sure all the equipment works perfectly. But before you proceed with the content, there is something important to consider the video conferencing software that you’ll be using. Knowing things like screen sharing, sound and camera settings, mute and chat functions is a given. So is the need to test the chosen software on your typical devices to make sure you know where’s what. 

However, knowing your tool goes further than that. You should aim at consistently refreshing your knowledge of it to step up your presentation skills. Tools like Zoom for instance are updated weekly, and sometimes the updates include important functionalities that would help you engage your audience better. 

In brief, whatever video platform you choose, make sure you know it in depth. Your confidence in using it will lever the audience’s experience because you’ll know how to make things more interactive and distraction-free. 

Story delivery or the power of changes 

Now it’s time to work on the content. Here lies the main difference between in-person and online presentations. If in person you can create engagement by just moving around, asking questions and the like (all these bring a change to the presentation and we know that changes spark the attention), online you can achieve similar results with the help of the features that you see below. They all create change in the way you deliver your talk.  

engage your audience online

It’s worth spending some time investigating how you can develop these dynamics with the presentation tool at hand, how you can mix up its functionalities to keep the energy high. We’ve said it before – each little change happening in front of the audience’s eyes keeps them engaged because we’re evolutionally wired to watch out for changes in our environment in order to survive. So, incorporating contrasting elements in the presentation delivery will ensure that the audience stays interested throughout the whole presentation. 

Slide design or when more is better 

By the way, you can create contrasts with your slides as well. How? Well, you know the rule, right – one idea per slide. This leads to making more of them, but also making simpler ones, too! Having more slides is a good way to create a sense of motion and change, which will inevitably make your audience pay more attention. How? Here’s an example. You’re probably subscribed to at least one movie streaming platform like Netflix and you know how it works. Why would good TV shows change scenes every 10 seconds? Do you think it’s a coincidence? Static screens just don’t keep our eyes busy. 

We’ll let all that sink in and stop here, with this basic triple-S rule. Knowing your software, knowing how to build delivery contrast and being smart about the slide design is a great foundation for nailing your virtual presentation and engaging your audience with ease. Remember you can check out our e-book for the pro tips on virtual presenting – 86 pages of insider’s information and hands-on tips for online presentations.