Virtual presentations

Ross Dawson is a globally recognized keynote speaker and strategy advisor, having delivered keynotes at major conferences and to leading organizations in a wide variety of industries across 32 countries. See a list of Ross Dawson’s speaking topics, all of which can be customized for the client.

Ross is also a long-established expert in online work and delivering compelling and engaging content over digital platforms, having commenced doing virtual presentations over two decades ago. He fully understands the limitations and the strengths of virtual presentations, how they are fundamentally different to in-person keynotes, and how to engage audiences in online formats.

Read more about some of the formats that Ross uses for virtual presentations:

Virtual keynotes

Webinars

Virtual board briefings

Future of work shows

In addition Ross is an expert at virtual strategy facilitation for boards, executive teams, and sometimes broader management groups.

See Ross Dawson’s requirements and platforms for virtual presentations and keynotes.

Principles for successful virtual presentations

Many presenters, often even professional speakers, approach speaking on an online platform essentially the same way as they would for an in-person presentation, using the same presentation style and identical slides. This is likely to lead to a poor experience at best for audiences.

Based on his extensive experience, Ross Dawson advises to follow five key principles for success in virtual presentations.

1. Presentation style tailored for online

It is a completely different experience for an audience if they are sitting in a conference room rather than watching a screen at work or at home, where distractions abound. Presentation lengths should often be reduced or broken into shorter segments, interactive elements used, and style adjusted. It makes a big difference to stand and talk to a single camera instead of walking and turning to address different parts of the room. An upbeat, engaging style is essential, but shouldn’t feel out of place in the context of an online session.

2. Engaging visual design

Many virtual presentations show either a set of slides that the presenter speaks to, or a full screen video of the speaker. Neither alone is likely to capture an audience’s attention for an extended period. Intelligent use of multi-screen layouts or green screen technologies to overlay the speaker over visuals can be far more engaging, though the layouts should ideally be kept dynamic, often requiring assistance to support the presenter. Static slides can be supplemented by video or other powerful visual effects, as often used by Ross Dawson in his keynotes.

3. Interactive formats

One of the advantages of online presentations is that it readily allows interaction and participation from the audience. Beyond the obvious initial steps of polling attendees for their opinions or facilitating Q&A there are a multitude of further possibilities, including participatory exercises, breakout ’roundtable’ discussions among small groups, ranking of priorities, or even establishing action plans. These require careful design from someone with substantial experience in what works and doesn’t work with particular audience demographics.

4. Platform selection

There are a number of frequently-used presentation platforms. Ross Dawson can adjust his approach to the preferred platform of his client, or advise on the best platforms for the audience and session objectives. In some cases complementary technologies beyond the video or webinar platform can be used to enhance the experience.

5. Testing and contingency plans

A key difference between experienced professionals and others is that they always ensure the platforms and setups are thoroughly tested beforehand, and there are backups in place for various potential technology or logistical contingencies. There should be minimal chance of meaningful disruption to any high-value online event, an issue which is too often neglected.