Any effective presentation requires specific focus on three main areas: voice; body language and content.
In this article we will consider how the use of voice, in an effective online presentation differs to the use of voice in an in-person presentation.
With WFH (Work from Home) becoming more common place, presenters are having to adapt to online or virtual presenting and the use of voice is a vital component of that.
When presenting in-person your voice accounts for up to 38% of an effective presentation, whereas with online presentations it is estimated to have increased to over 55%.
This significant change is due to the fact that the presenter is all but invisible for most of the time during an online presentation. You no longer have the ability to look from the screen to the presenter in front of you, as you could during an in-person presentation. Instead, you now need to solely rely on the content and the presenters voice. As the presenter is less visible, the effectiveness of body language, facial expressions, movement and gestures are equally diminished, lessened or reduced. The only real remaining part of you, besides your content, to reach out to your audience is your voice and how you use it.
Voice, in the context of presenting, involves the following aspects:
- Volume – You no longer need to project your voice more loudly to be heard at the back of the room, so when presenting online remember to keep your volume at a similar level to that which you would use during a normal phone conversation. Use volume to keep your audience focused, by increasing it slightly to highlight an important point or at the start of a new topic. Speak quietly another time, as though to share a secret but always make sure that everyone can still hear you clearly.
- Clarity – Clean, clear and crisp. Do not mumble under your breath and do not let your words role into one another. Instead, be sure to pronounce your words clearly, separately and precisely, so that they can be easily understood.
- Pace – Do not race or speak too quickly, as this is a sign of nervousness, a lack of confidence and insecurity. Consider too that your audience may be located all over the world and their internet connection may break up or even be delayed on occasion, so if you speak too quickly, they may miss what you are saying. Also, remember that with remote presentations not everyone attending will have English as their first language. They also cannot see you clearly enough to be able to read your lips, so you need to speak at a speed / pace that will ensure that they are not left behind. At the same time, make sure that you do not speak so slowly as to insult their intelligence. Speaking at the same pace makes you appear robotic and not interested in your own topic, which would lose the interest and focus of your audience. Use pace to create interest by going slightly faster over those areas that are most important and slightly slower over those that are less important. Though subtle, your audience will unconsciously recognise this and pay special attention where you need them to. Never forget the power of a pause. A small pause before a change of topic or before introducing a new topic or even before sharing an important bit of information changes the pace of the presentation and draws an audiences attention back.
- Tone – Presentations are business occasions and so need a professional, more formal tone or choice of words but at the same time it is important to not appear superior or a ‘know-it-all’. Use a humorous tone when sharing something funny or amusing.
- Pitch – A persons voice pitch may either be high (squeaky) or low (deep). Most people prefer to listen to a deep or low voice pitch, as it is more soothing and relaxing on the ears. Our voice pitch naturally goes higher when we are excited or nervous, which could either irritate or distract an audience. Make a consistent effort to keep your voice from rising, except when using it to highlight an area of great interest.
- Confidence – You can no longer show confidence using your posture, body language, movement around the room or gestures. In a virtual meeting you need to show confidence using your voice by being fluent, not stumbling over your words and flowing seamlessly from one item to the next. For those who are new to Business English, this means that you will need to practice your presentation over and over again, both in private to yourself and to others, so that you are confident on the day. It also means practicing phrases, acronyms and other technical or company jargon to be comfortable with their use.
In conclusion, your voice is vital to an effective presentation, so be sure to give it the focus it deserves. Many will say, ‘My voice is my voice. I cannot change it.’ and whilst that is true to some extent, there are things you can consciously do to turn it into an effective presentation tool with the correct instruction and training.
For even more detailed information on how to create and give the perfect Business Presentation, please also watch my YouTube video Playlist: ‘Business Presentations’ by clicking on the below image:
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