Dull, Boring, Heard Them Snoring: A Guide to Virtual Presentations​

Ed Darling
8 min read

What you’ll learn:

  • Tech tips to prepare your virtual stage.
  • How to find your online speaking style.
  • Engagement tactics for online audiences.
man watching virtual presentation

Virtual presentation triumph, or disaster?

Virtual presentations are part of modern work.

But despite all the practise, most virtual audiences are still left… uninspired.

The good news is that delivering a virtual presentation can be (almost) as engaging and fun as delivering your message in person.

But for that, you’ll need to learn how to communicate with charisma online.

Let’s discover how to keep attention and make your virtual presentations pop.

Prepare your virtual stage.

The venue sets the vibe and first impression for any presentation, even virtual ones. So, before you hit the “present” button, make sure to prepare your virtual stage.

Framing your virtual stage:

First things first, you don’t want to scare your audience with a giant floating head on their screen. Instead, make sure the camera is positioned to capture your head, shoulders, and torso.

Move yourself and the camera further apart as needed. This way, your audience can see your expressions and body language, keeping them engaged.

Your virtual background set:

The best virtual presentations have a background that suits the topic at hand. If it’s a work presentation, choose a tidy and professional background. But if you’re going for a more personal or fun vibe, add some pizzazz with quirky objects or decorations.

Just be sure to double-check what’s in the background before you start your presentation. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught off guard by an embarrassing item in the background.

So, give your virtual stage a quick once-over before you begin, then be ready to impress.

charismatic speaker scorecard

Discover Your Charisma Score!

The Charismatic Speaker Scorecard benchmarks your ability to speak in an engaging way, and identifies opportunities to improve based on three key areas:
  1. Confident Mindset
  2. Compelling Content
  3. Engaging Delivery
Take the scorecard to find out how ready you are to speak in public – and receive a report that’ll tell you exactly what to work on.


Get your presentation tech in order.

The right technology and setup can make a big difference in the way you present yourself online. Let’s start with the basics.

Your camera setup:

While it’s not necessary to have 4K definition, a grainy webcam won’t cut it either. Investing in a higher quality webcam will make a huge difference in how clearly your audience can see your face and expressions.

Next up, audio quality:

Believe it or not, this is even more important than video quality. A good microphone can make all the difference in ensuring that your audience can pick up on the subtle changes in your voice, such as tone and inflection. Avoid headset microphones that sit too close to your mouth and cause too many sibilants.

Now onto lighting:

An often-overlooked aspect of virtual presenting. Front-lit is the way to go, with the main light source coming from behind the camera and facing towards you. Natural daylight is great, but if it’s not available, use multiple light sources to evenly illuminate the room.

Avoid using a single lamp or overhead light, as it can create harsh shadows and be unflattering. For a more professional look, consider investing in a softbox.

Find your virtual presenting style.

After you have prepared your virtual “stage” and completed the technical setup, it’s time to take center stage. But without an actual stage, can you still maintain a charismatic presence?

One of the challenges of presenting virtually, is that the energy from a live audience is absent, leaving you with pixelated faces on a computer screen or, even worse, a screen of black squares with cameras switched off.

Despite this lack of feedback, it’s crucial to maintain your energy levels while presenting. Here’s some tips to help you do just that.

Keep the enthusiasm flowing:

It can be discouraging to speak to a group of people who have their cameras off, but don’t let negative thoughts bring down your energy.

“Noones listening, noone cares, they’ve all left!”

Assume that your audience is attentive and eager to hear what you have to say. Deliver your presentation as if everyone is listening, and your enthusiasm will come through in your delivery, regardless of who’s watching.

Maintain virtual eye-contact:

Live speakers connect with their audience through eye contact, but speaking virtually requires a slightly different approach.

To create a feeling of connection with your remote audience, look straight down the camera lens. This will give the impression that you’re making direct eye contact with them.

However, it’s important to avoid overwhelming people with the feeling of being glared at down the camera. Instead, use your “virtual eye-contact” selectively to emphasize key points. The rest of the time, look at your own screen to assess how well people are receiving your message.

Virtual body-language and guestures:

People often forget about their body language when speaking online, resulting in a complete lack of digital charisma.

Don’t fall into the trap of being a “talking head”.

Even on camera, public speaking is still a visual experience. Use facial expressions and gestures to emphasize key points and convey emotion. If needed, move your chair back slightly to capture a wider field of view, allowing you to gesture more broadly.

Ready to feel confident while speaking in public?

Join our next 1-Day Public Speaking Masterclass

Virtual engagement tactics.

When it comes to engaging a remote audience, we need to think beyond just our delivery.

While some options may be taken away from us, technology also gives us some new ways to connect with our audience. Here are a few to consider for your next virtual presentation.

Use group questions to engage people:

In a live speech, asking every person in the audience to answer a question would be a logistical nightmare. But on a virtual stage, it’s much easier.

Simply ask everyone to share their thoughts in the chat box, and then select a few of the best responses to read aloud. Make sure to clearly and confidently state the question, and exactly what you’ve like people to do, in order to get a good level of engagement back from your audience.

Run a poll to involve the whole audience:

Most video call platforms now include a poll option, allowing the whole audience to quickly and easily vote on an option. It’s like a show of hands, but more accurate.

Use individual interaction to keep things personal:

Another great way to keep your audience engaged is to bring someone on camera to speak.

Let people know ahead of time that you’ll be asking them to contribute. Doing so will keep them on their toes, and encourage them to listen more closely to what you’re saying.

Whenever you’ve asked someone to speak, always remember to thank them for their contribution and make it a positive experience – they may have been nervous doing so.

Whichever method of interaction you choose, make sure you’re using at least one. Always make an effort to engage and interact with your audience, and avoid your presentation becoming a lecture-style delivery with one voice droning on, and on, and on…

Finishing your virtual presentation:

No matter how engaging your delivery style, a virtual presentation can still lack the same “live energy” as a face-to-face encounter.

As a result, people may be less motivated to take action on what you’ve said. To make sure you get the best possible chance of securing the buy-in, the sale, or the agreement – you need to provide two things:

Your Call To Action:

Every speech needs a clear CTA, but this is especially important when speaking virtually. Tell people exactly what you’d like them to do next, in a clear and concise manner. For example: “Starting Monday, I’d like everyone to start using this new system.”

Your Call To Contact:

After an in-person presentation, people can usually walk up to the speaker and ask a question.

This isn’t always possible when speaking online, but you can make it easier for people by offering them a way to contact you directly. Share your email address, social media pages, or website, and make it obvious for people to follow up.

Improving your next virtual presentation.

Delivering a virtual presentation shares the same foundation as any other form of public speaking.

It necessitates clear, confident, and credible communication, as well as adaptability to the situation at hand.

By setting up your “stage,” camera, and equipment in an effective manner, you can ensure that your viewers and listeners have the best possible experience.

Through improving your speaking style and employing engagement tactics,  you can keep the audience interested and attentive throughout.

Finally, by providing them with a concise call to action and a straightforward approach to getting in touch, you increase our chances of achieving the desired result of the presentation.

Follow these best practises, and make sure noone leaves your virtual presentation saying:

“Dull, boring, I heard them snoring…”

charismatic speaker scorecard

Discover Your Charisma Score!

The Charismatic Speaker Scorecard benchmarks your ability to speak in an engaging way, and identifies opportunities to improve based on three key areas:
  1. Confident Mindset
  2. Compelling Content
  3. Engaging Delivery
Take the scorecard to find out how ready you are to speak in public – and receive a report that’ll tell you exactly what to work on.