Can You See Me Now? How to Speak When Your Audience Is Remote

Smile to put more life into your voiceHow many meetings do you attend, or facilitate, in which you are speaking over the telephone or over the internet? I imagine quite a few. It can be a little unnerving, or it can be a highly engaging experience. Here are some tips to making the most of these virtual presentations:

Remember your voice trumps all else. Since the listeners can’t see you, all they have to go on are your voice and your slides (if you are using them.) If you don’t know how your voice sounds, now is the time to get a voice recorder and record and listen to yourself. I know it isn’t fun, but it is an eye opener.

How many “ums” and “ahs” do you hear? Is your voice monotone? Do you have good volume? How is the voice quality over your phone line or headset?

If you found any opportunities for improvement, work on then now. It will pay dividends for years. A great way to get better vocally is to periodically record yourself in a practice presentation, exaggerating each aspect of enunciation, inflection, rate of speech, etc. Think of putting color into your voice. This exercise can help you stretch your vocal range, especially if you listen back and hear the improvements for yourself.

Some other tips for humanizing the experience:

1.      Don’t use a script unless absolutely necessary. Your audience will be able to hear that you are reading. Instead, use notes that are less a script.

2.      Rehearse your content, as much or more than you would for a live presentation. Pay particular attention to the opening minutes, the transitions between topics, and the closing. Ask a small group or even one person to listen. Or record it and play it back.

3.      Engage the audience in the first three minutes. If you wait until midway through your presentation, the audience is used to listening only, and won’t respond as well as they will in the first few minutes. Ask them to write on a white board, or introduce themselves if the class size is small enough. If you know them, do a quick “check-in” with each person.

4.      Have a helper sit in. if you can have even one live body in the room, or even on the phone, you can talk to that person. Less of the blind feeling you can get when you don’t see an audience. And maybe that person could help you with audience questions, technology issues, etc.

5.      Privatize the chat function so that only the presenter and helper can see the questions. Encourage people to ask anything they want, knowing that they will remain anonymous. This increases trust and reduces risk of saying something they might regret. You can respond to the comment or question without revealing who said it.

6.      Put up pictures. You can post them on your wall, or on your desk or even on your computer. Make these the happiest-to-see-you faces you can. Or use pictures of your pets or loved ones so you can see them, if that helps you feel more connected.

7.      Stand up. This allows you to breathe more deeply, puts more energy in your voice.

8.      Open your mouth wider. Enunciate carefully. This can keep you from rushing, and make you more easily understood.

9.      Smile. Yes, we can hear that in your voice.

10.  Keep the group small. In this way you can personalize the call, so people don’t just drift in and out of attention. There is nothing like hearing your name called with a question attached. Your audience will stay more focused if you might call on them.

Speaking with a remote audience is more and more part of our presentation repertoire. You can hide in the dark, or you can choose to shine.

I would love to hear from you. How do you sparkle when you speak with remote audiences? And how do you engage your audience in remote presentations?

3 responses to “Can You See Me Now? How to Speak When Your Audience Is Remote”

  1. I love your suggestions as they were germane to me. I learned to utilize these “commandments” when I worked in the tissue donation industry. Oftentimes I had to have a group of people with me when I made a conference call. Other tissue branches and myself would collaborate on educational needs of the general populace who lack vital information on this important and life saving industry. Sometimes it was to set up booths at health fairs and other times it would be at hospitals giving presentations. The conference calls were spread across the Untied States so it was important to have a unified strategy. I appreciate all that went into this article.

  2. Team 3:I love the story and think it’s a great illustration for many of the laws of leasdrehip (even though you stated a different law from Influence). I enjoy hearing what each of you learned. Excellent topic choice, fair creativity in the presentation.The discussion part of our presentations is actually a very valuable way to engage your audience and actually learn from them (and have them teach each other). One or two provocative questions can make it a dynamic time. Your discussion component consisted of Any questions? which I think is a poor question for this class. I would have liked to see more thought in your question like What leasdrehip qualities were most developed in the different events of Joseph’s life before he became a ruler?

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