Even if you have finely tuned lecture and presentation skills, the act of conducting a presentation online may be new to you. Though the process of planning a presentation is, in many respects, the same, you’ll have a few additional matters to consider before you share your message with an online audience.
Below, you’ll find some suggestions adapted from Ryan Watkins and Michael Corry’s E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success, Fourth Edition, which will help ensure successful online presentations. These may also benefit your students if and when they’re required to present a speech, project, research findings, or other information in an online setting.
- Give yourself sufficient time to plan and create your presentation. Also, familiarize yourself with any software technology that’s new to you.
- Days before the presentation, make sure you have your equipment and technology in order. Be sure you’ve installed all the required software and plug-ins, and take note of any additional requirements or restrictions that may be in place. Set your screen resolution to 800 x 600, as most computer programs and screens are compatible with this setting.
- Ensure that each slide contains sufficient information. Many recommend including no more than five brief lines of content per slide, but in the online format, you can provide more content than this, provided that the slide does not look crowded, or the text is not so small that it’s barely readable onscreen.
- Enhance your presentation with relevant,enjoyable, and informative audio clips. You can embed them into the presentation and play them at the appropriate time. Note that the file sizes for most audio clips are rather large. For this reason, you’ll want to choose your samples wisely, leaning towards those that engage your audience an elaborate on your point, rather than those that simply restate the on-screen text. The authors also recommend keeping the clips to about ten to fifteen seconds in length, with no more than ninety seconds incorporated into the entire presentation.
- Avoid using animations and slide transitions, as they do not always display correctly during online presentations.
- Consider saving a version of your presentation in an alternate file format. For example, if you are using Microsoft® PowerPoint®, you can save your presentation as a PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) file and create a “read-only” presentation that automatically opens as a full-screen slideshow. “Save as Adobe® PDF” produces a document that serves nicely for handouts or review; as an added bonus, the PDF will generally be a smaller file size than your PowerPoint file, making it more efficient to distribute via e-mail.
- Approximately one day beforehand, distribute any related handouts, worksheets, or other documentation to your audience. This gives them sufficient time to review your documents prior to the presentation.
Now that you’ve completed your preparation, it’s time for your presentation!
- Before you begin speaking, confirm that everyone in your audience can hear you and can see your slides.
- Give your audience guidelines for asking questions during the presentation. If the session is live, let them know how to submit their questions (e.g., in a chat box), as well as when you’ll be opening the floor for discussion. For those who do not have the chance to watch the presentation live, you may also want to provide your e-mail address as a means of communication; this also comes in handy for those who have follow-up questions that surface after your presentation is complete.
- After your presentation, take time to review the feedback you’ve received, and consider how you might use those insights to improve or refine future presentations. (185-187)
Reference: Watkins, Ryan and Corry, Michael. 2014. E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
What are your suggestions for planning, preparing, and conducting presentations online? Share your ideas below.