September 6, 2022

Why are virtual presentations so bloody hard?


Over the last two and half years, we have endured more virtual presentations than we ever would have expected. I say ‘endure’ deliberately because in many cases, perhaps most cases, it has required both stamina and patience. Whether it is a team meeting, formal training, conference presentations or any other experience that we would typically conduct in person, COVID required the switch to a virtual world.

In this time, I have seen many people present whom I would consider very good live presenters, yet they have not been great in a virtual setting.

As we move away from the hard lockdowns of COVID and get back to in person events, virtual delivery is still here to stay. While it may be reduced, we are increasingly seeing hybrid delivery which presents additional challenges as the presenter.

The Problems with Virtual Delivery

There are numerous tips and techniques you can adopt to make your virtual presentations better. Many people don’t know these, so I will get to a few in a moment. But the biggest reason people suck at virtual presentations occurs well before they even start… and the cause is mindset.

Some people go into virtual presentations thinking, ‘It’s just virtual’. They know that people’s expectations are lower for virtual presentations, which leads them to believe they don’t need to prepare or practise as much.

It’s so hard to read the room virtually” is a common cry I hear. And yes, it is. I have been speaking and training people for over 25 years and there is absolutely no doubt that virtual presentations are harder …much harder.

There are various reasons why this is the case.

  • It can be extremely difficult to read the room
  • It is harder to maintain your energy
  • Engagement and interaction can feel like drawing blood from a stone
  • Monitoring the chat can be both distracting and exhausting
  • Breakout rooms can be problematic
  • … and the list goes on.

However, just because it is harder and everyone else sucks at it, it’s no excuse for incompetence. Virtual presentations are challenging, as demonstrated by the issues mentioned above, so we must work harder.

Tips and Techniques for Improved Virtual Presentations

Here are my top four tips to help improve virtual presentations:

  • Change your mindset. People are giving up their time to hear you speak, so make it worth their while.
  • If your presentation would normally be delivered to a live audience while you are standing, then stand and deliver when you present virtually. You will be amazed what this does for your energy.
  • Always have the camera at eye length. Regardless of whether you are standing or sitting, no-one wants to look up your nose for an hour.
  • Look at the camera. This is perhaps one of the hardest adjustments when presenting virtually as our tendency is to look at the faces on the screen. When you do that, you are breaking eye contact with your audience.

Virtual presentations are not going away anytime soon. While they may be harder than face-to-face presentations, there are also several benefits that mean many companies will continue to use them. Consequently, it’s worth our while to get better at presenting in a virtual world.

Presentation Training

If getting better at presenting, both in person and online, is of interest for you or your team then contact us to discuss an in-house workshop or download the brochure here. My training workshops can be conducted either in person or virtually

You can also register for my last remaining public workshop for 2022. It is a virtual event (which will allow me to role model everything I’ve just talked about). Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your presentation skills and join me on 15th December from 9:30am to 1pm (AEDT).


P.S. I am also running one more public Strategic Storytelling workshop on 14th December 2022. This is also a virtual session and you can find our more as well as register here.