… And suddenly you’re sitting in your home office and have to present everything online. Old mechanisms like the presence meeting, the usual exchange with others – everything is different at once. Don’t worry, it’s just a little different. With a few steps, tips and tricks, you can quickly and successfully conduct online presentations and meetings.
I still have time for that, right?
So how does successful moderation & presentation online work? An important factor is time – it passes faster than expected. In addition, technical equipment and various features require attention and brain wiring as a resource. So here are a few tips to help you convey all the important things at the right time.
1) The spice is in the brevity
The attention diminishes over time – just like in a “normal” meeting. Marathon sessions usually lead to worse results.
In general, prepare your presentation so that it contains three to a maximum of five messages – that’s all the participants can remember. If someone asks “Are you going to send this later as a PDF?”, you know that you have packed too much into it. Or the person is not sufficiently involved in the presentation, or the content does not seem important enough (more on these points later).
2) Good preparation is the key to success
An agenda prepared in advance ensures that all participants are at the same level and optimally prepared for the meeting. You can then use the agenda as a guide during the presentation – making meetings more productive and efficient. A good structure and clear timing are crucial.
Rule of Thumb: 60 – 10 – 5
Use the rule of thumb: 60 – 10 – 5: Maximum 60 minutes in a row – after 10 minutes build up an interaction (chat questions, brainstorming on the whiteboard, discussion rounds with notes, group work, question and answer session, etc.) – 5 minutes: This is how long the participants’ attention span is.
This results in roughly the following division:
If particularly complex issues are to be discussed, these should be divided into individual sessions of maximum 45 to 60 minutes.
3) Encourage interactivity and involve participants:
Do you want their content to stick? Do you want what you have to say to be further processed? This is how you can do it: Keep the participants involved as much as possible. Participants who feel that they are really participating in the meeting, rather than just passively consuming an online presentation, are far less likely to “switch off” or do other tasks on the computer in between.
The accountability rule
Try to involve the participants directly at the beginning of your presentation, e.g. by means of an anecdote, a chat survey or similar. That way they get the feeling that they are allowed or should participate. And that they are jointly responsible for making the meeting a success. Asking specific questions and getting feedback works wonders – use this tool often! Really often!
“This must absolutely still be on it!” – on the contrary!
In order to stay in exchange, the correctly designed “Minimum Viable PowerPoint (MVP)”, literally translated a “minimal viable PowerPoint”, fits perfectly. This means: Choose the smallest possible amount of information you need to involve the group. No more – everything else can go. The same applies to colours, animations and technical gimmicks. Everywhere applies: Less is more!
The MVP Rules – the essentials for your PowerPoint design
- Few slides: 3 to maximum 5 at 20-40 minutes presentation (really, you can do it!)
- Few colours, few technical “Chi-Chi” (2 to 3 technical gadgets are enough: e.g. chat, survey tool, whiteboard. More only distracts)
- 4 points per slide, less than 7 words per point
- Point out the most important things directly
- Multimedia principle: The learning effect is greater if the learners are presented with pictures matching the text.
- Principle of spatial continuity: Text and image (or animation) should be very close together.
- Principle of temporal continuity: It is better if the explanation is given at the same time as the presented image.
“Is anybody listening to me?” Communication and activation
All of a sudden the moderator stops speaking. How do the participants think and feel when nothing happens (idle time)? Conversely, why do the participants not participate? Are you possibly not audible? Perhaps some participants are not interested in the topics? Or maybe they are not at their desks at all, go for a coffee …
The fact is:
one cannot not communicate (Watzlawik).
They always communicate intentionally or unintentionally, even in virtual space. Do not leave room for interpretation – you must always communicate with the participants!
This is the best way: think aloud and verbalize your tasks and next steps. Establish rules for communication and feedback: who is allowed to speak where and when (chat, microphone release, when to ask questions, how to take notes etc.). Use additional communication tools like chat or emoticons/signals. The same applies the other way round: Ask your participants* what they are thinking and feeling right now and ask them to verbalize everything!
Possibilities to activate the participants:
- Encourage the learners to actively participate (e.g. ask guiding questions, invite participants for discussion
- As moderator, record and summarize results from discussions, brainstorming sessions (whiteboard, sharing documents)
- As a moderator, regularly request feedback (e.g. ask questions, obtain opinions, ask for understanding or difficulties)
- Presentation of applications, programs via “Application Sharing/Desktop Sharing
- Present PPTs, PDFs via “Upload documents/files
- Use visualization tools (pointers, markers, etc.)
The “Snickers principle”: something sweet at the end
Imagine you can reach into a bowl of peanuts with your thumb and index finger – how many peanuts can you get on one hand? Not all of them … unfortunately … maybe three to five. Imagine pouring caramel sauce over them – how many then? Maybe even all of them?! More delicious chocolate around it.
That means: First comes the structure and three core messages of my online presentation (peanuts). The necessary cohesion and coherence is created by the design and the image composition of the PPT. The whole thing is wrapped up with the right communication/moderation (the chocolate). Hmm, delicious! That’s the way it tastes in the home office, too!
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