The future of virtual presentations

Delivering compelling presentations is more important now than ever before. Colleen Thornton reveals what Online Presentations 2.0 need to achieve…

We’re experiencing incredible technological advancements that allow for remote live sharing of information. But we’re also sandwiched inside a unique time that demands remote access and online engagement just to keep business alive.

If your business has been online for a while, then some of this information will be familiar to you. If you’re responding to the demands this year has placed on all of us, and you’re learning how to create online presentations, then you absolutely need to read this guide.

Online meetings are a bit like telling a joke. The punch line itself may be hilarious, but if the delivery stinks, the entire joke fizzles

Put simply an online presentation is a speech prepared in advance to deliver information, pitch a new idea, or introduce a new product or service to a person or an audience. It may be delivered via live feed video call and recorded for future consumption and review.

Are your presentations like a bad joke?

Are your online meetings like a bad joke?

Online meetings are a bit like telling a joke. The punch line itself may be hilarious, but if the delivery stinks, the entire joke fizzles.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of ways to tell a joke. There are also numerous ways to deliver an online presentation, some more successful than others. Some that are downright terrible. Some that haven’t been discovered yet.

With tomorrow approaching at a faster pace than ever before, we need to look at what goes into delivering a slam-dunk online presentation. Because it’s the future, folks.

Do yourself a favour and take 15 minutes to read this article. Scan it if that’s all you have time for. We guarantee it will make all the difference in your creation, structure, delivery, and success of your next online presentation.

Use the three P’s: Pitch, Present, and Perform to deliver the most compelling presentation.

What’s In A Powerful Meeting?

An excellent business meeting Converts, Influences, and Wins the Business.

To achieve this we must focus on the three critical P’s Pitch, Present, and Perform. Pitch is the critical message you are trying to convey. Present is the presentation itself––the platform, delivery, structure, etc. (we’ll cover this in great detail). Perform is the performance, that is, who is delivering it, and why.


The pitch is the most practical part of your meeting or presentation. It is the content you wish to share with participants. Is it business objectives for the upcoming year? A course module? A question and answer session? A client briefing? Ensure your content is well written, organised for easy consumption, and most importantly––relevant to your audience. Stick to the most pertinent points. If you need to share extra information, create a resource slide where participants can interact with key concepts on their own time.

Facts are dry; stories are juicy


This is a significant part of a powerful presentation––the actual delivery of information. That’s why we’ve devoted a good portion of this article to unpacking what’s in a good presentation. Consider everything from the delivery platform, location, visuals, objectives, and more.


Consider this part your stage presence, and a big part of it involves body language. Making and maintaining eye contact communicates competence. Holding a strong, healthy posture conveys confidence and reduces stress (1).

Lee Warren’s a master presenter. Join his ‘Make Virtual Valuable‘ Masterclass here.

While performance concerns the person delivering, it also communicates the reason for your presentation. People understand real stories and emotions before the facts. According to one source, people are 22x more likely to remember facts delivered via a story (2). Facts are dry; stories are juicy. Emotions motivate people to understand why they’re paying attention to a particular set of facts. 

Don’t lecture––engage

Remember, participants are there to learn something they don’t already know. Make it fun. Deliver the content with enthusiasm and humor. Drive facts home with interesting and relatable examples. In short, the personality, story, and life you impart in your presentation give people a reason to interact and engage with the information and stay focused.

If you forget everything else about performance, remember this: Don’t lecture––engage. Use anecdotes from your own life, and ask participants to share too. notes that audience engagement is higher if participants do most of the talking.

Rather like your food on important date, presentation is critical

Pitching A New Idea, Product, Or Service? Why Presentation Is Everything

According to a 2017 study at the University of Toronto, observers take only five seconds to determine if a person is charismatic (3).

Think about it this way: You book a dinner reservation at a fancy, 5-star restaurant for you and your date. You’ve only known each other for a short time, so you want to make a good impression. You put on your best clothes, take extra care with your personal hygiene, and ensure you’ve given your ineffective habits the smackdown (no smoking, one scotch only, and no fingernail biting). It’s not about hiding who you are. Instead, you understand the power of initial impressions. You want to make a good one, and you appreciate it when others do the same.

Notice everything before someone else does and then fix it.

You arrive at the restaurant and your date is dressed to kill… nice––your own efforts weren’t wasted.

You sit down for dinner and notice a stain on the tablecloth. It’s not hugely noticeable, but it’s clearly there, and it dampens the overall ambience of the place. It makes you wonder about the presence of other grotty things you can’t see, like rats or watered-down dish detergent in the kitchen. Just one little splotch is enough to undo 58 five-star reviews, a hot date, and a mouth-watering menu. 

Conversely, a pleasant, clean, attractive atmosphere can balance out a lackluster food experience. You may go back just because the ambience and service were so lovely. Your date may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but they made an otherwise dazzling first impression, so there’s likely a second date in the future.

The takeaway here?

Notice everything before someone else does and then fix it. Content is important, but presentation is critical for attracting your audience’s attention and engagement with the content.

Creating & delivering online presentation are more critical than ever

Effective presentations are also critical to business growth.

Whether your meeting is virtual or in-person, presentation is a critical tool for winning new business.

That means treating the whole thing as a pitch. Through that mindset, build your presentation with the intention to attract, inspire, educate, and motivate everyone watching. Appeal to their concerns, challenges, pain points, aspirations, dreams, and desires. Level with them. When you can speak the language of emotion, you’ve got their attention.

500 million PowerPoint users

That’s the psychological skinny of it. Now let’s get to the hardcore practical pieces.

The main component of an excellent online presentation is the visual aspect. There are plenty of non-visual subtleties that influence the success or disaster of a presentation, but a killer visual experience will capture and maintain the attention of your participants. If you don’t have that, your presentation is doomed before it begins.

Are you delivering a winning presentation?

So, here are 9 key recommendations for creating a winning presentation:

1: Test Out & Choose A Relevant Platform.

Traditional PowerPoint presentations are still wildly popular.

In fact, there are more than 500 million PowerPoint users and 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every day across the world (4). Paradoxically, that’s both a reason to use PowerPoint and not use PowerPoint. It’s popular because it’s familiar and functional. But it’s also a bit dated and predictable. Alternative technologies and platforms abound, and each one has a signature way of enhancing a presentation.

Use next level Presentations to win more business.
Ash (1 million powerpoint slides) Pemberton.

OBS or Open Broadcaster Software is an excellent alternative to PowerPoint. OBS Studio is a hot open-source solution for gamers to record and share their plays via Twitch or YouTube. It also works for creating screencasts, making it perfect for online presentations.

Keep in mind that OBS isn’t the only option of its kind. There are far more worthy of consideration, such as Snagit, ShareX, Vokoscreen, and more (see Slant for a list of alternatives to OBS). We suggest doing some research before settling on one.

As you review potential solutions, consider the following:

Gaming technology to provide additional powerful functionality. This is a language more and more people are beginning to recognise and understand, so it makes sense to stay relevant and avoid becoming redundant in your use of technology. Check out this blog by mentalfloss on gaming technology advances, and consider how you could apply some of these features in your online presentation.

Green screen to enhance natural special effects. A green screen superimposes one image or video stream over another to give it the appearance of one image or stream. Get the full details on how to create a DIY green screen video effect here.

Did you email the cat to stay away?

2: Eliminate Distractions

Seems obvious, right?

Except we often overlook how many distractions there are in a given environment. Too many visuals, too much text, social media or promotion banners swooping in unannounced because you forgot to turn notifications off––the list is endless. You have to foresee them all before your meeting begins. Does your laptop screen light dim at a particular hour, perhaps the hour of your presentation? Have you set any reminders that may appear mid-presentation and interrupt it? What about the actual location from which you’re presenting? If it’s your home, is it tidy, minimal, and if you have any roommates, do they guarantee their absence?

What about your cat?

3: Triple Check For Potential Technical Errors.

Don’t be that guy that didn’t check all his equipment before he went live. Pretend you’re a DJ hired to spin discs it at some major event. You can’t lose it in the middle. Always, I repeat, always check your microphone, webcam, and internet connection. Then check them again. Anticipate what could go wrong, then check them again. Be OCD about it. Don’t give the impression that you’re unreliable and unprepared. That won’t bode well for your reputation or your business.

Your oral delivery should expound on each point

4: Keep The Slides Simple

Hey, it’s easy to get carried away when there’s so much information to deliver. Include only the most critical points on the slides. Your oral delivery should expound on each point, which will prompt the participants to take their own notes too, recording their understanding and insights in a way that makes sense for them, rather than just copying your text. You may also offer to record and file-share the presentation so they can revisit it in the future. For a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts for creating slides, check out this valuable resource.

Presentations - CheatSheet-Download

5: Use Visuals

A picture is worth 1000 words. But be careful what that picture communicates. If text is more effective, use text. If an image gets the message across in a way that is entertaining rather than confusing and relevant rather than solely to fill in space, use it. But don’t overuse visuals.

Visuals aren’t just photos. They’re everything from cool slide-in-from-the-right features to animations to embedded video and GIFs. And new ones are coming out all the time. Don’t get carried away. Select your visuals intentionally. Like that bloke on the barstool at your favourite watering hole, cute, funny, and clever all have limits. Know them. If you get it wrong, there’s a price to pay. Don’t let it be new business. Audio jingles also enhance the presentation and performance, but as with visuals, be selective.

6: Outline Objectives Upfront

After you’ve hooked your audience with a good intro story, it’s time to put the theatre away for a few moments and present the objectives. Whether you’re facilitating a simple business meeting or you’re teaching a course module, outlining and prioritising the objectives are critical. Your participants want to know precisely what they’re going to learn, in what order, right upfront. Take the guesswork out of it. No one likes going in blind. A set of objectives is like a road map that guides participants from one stop to the next.

7: Create Conversation & Participation

People learn by doing, so give people opportunities to action key concepts and examples. Present open-ended questions based on reviewed content and provide participants with time to reflect on and discuss them. Arrange small-group explorations of critical questions. Ask people to share their ideas and stories. Elicit real-life examples (people love talking about themselves––capitalise on that).

8: Allow Time For Questions

Ever attended a meeting or a course and had 100 questions swirling your brain with no opportunity to ask them? The banking model of education, a term coined by leading advocate of critical pedagogy, Paulo Freire, seeks to fill students with information, like money dropped into a bank account. It does not permit students to actively engage with information so that it may be integrated with their own knowledge. Questioning is a critical part of the learning process, and questions provide excellent whole-group discussion starters. Provide ample time for Q&A so participants can remember and integrate key concepts.

9: Educate, Engage & Entertain…

An effective online presentation positions you as the teacher and the participants as your students. People are looking to you for expert knowledge and practical, actionable skills and strategies. For that, you must be prepared. But solid preparation only goes so far. Why? It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, so we must be ready for the unexpected. Good teaching is one-quarter preparation and three-quarters theatre.

A lot of learning occurs within discomfort

How do you do that? Get good at improv. Seriously––take improv classes. Practise going through your presentation without your notes. Get comfortable speaking on your feet and learning to trust your instincts. Even the most talented, knowledgeable industry experts are prone to a little stage fright.

If this all feels a tad overwhelming, that’s natural. Very few of us are great the first time at anything. Facilitating a course, workshop, or meeting is self-conscious ground for most of us. Remember this: a lot of learning occurs within discomfort. With time, practise, and reflection, you’ll sharpen your skills.

Start with the platform software and take it from there. Research your options thoroughly. Read reviews. Talk to other entrepreneurs who are well-versed in remote meetings and presentations. Draw from the experts.

Perfect Presentation Performance

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  1. 10 Amazing Facts About Presentations for 2020 |
  2. 24 Presentation Statistics You Should Know in 2021
  3. Perceptions of charisma from thin slices of behavior predict leadership prototypicality judgments

About the author

Colleen Thornton

Colleen (from Canada) is a professional copywriter living in Northern Thailand. She specialises in writing blogs, research articles, and other long-form copy for digital marketing agencies, professional coaches, ecommerce, and more.

By Colleen Thornton

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