Best Practices in Zoom Presentations
How do you deliver an effective presentation over ZOOM? Practice, practice, practice.
ZOOM is a user-friendly platform for those joining and viewing presentations. However, as the presenter or “host” of a virtual event, you’ll want to become comfortable with ZOOM’s basic and advanced features. It’s a good idea to practice using ZOOM with family and friends before your first event. Once you feel comfortable with ZOOM basics, you’re ready to plan a virtual event.
The following features are available when scheduling a meeting...
- The Registration feature is a useful tool for meetings attended by adults.
- Automatic or unique Meeting ID # helps to protect your PMI (personal meeting identification).
- ZOOM has other security features. Some features are default settings (Such as, Only the Host can Share Screen and the Waiting Room so the Host can screen for necessary participants). Note: You can change default settings.
- When you schedule a meeting, you can also require a password and/or require participants to wait for the host to join the meeting. Again, these options are available when scheduling a meeting.
Useful Advanced Features
You have access to basic meeting settings when you are in a meeting. Some basic features are currently default settings. You may change those at any time. To access advanced features, log in to your account at https://www.zoom.us/ and go to Settings.
Note: If you activate any of these advanced settings, it doesn’t mean you have to use them. Some advanced features (ie, Waiting Room) can be deactivated when scheduling a new meeting using the basic features. If you make changes to advanced settings while you are in a virtual meeting, you will have to log out of that meeting to activate the setting changes.
Participant Video/Audio. You have the option to turn off the audio and video of participants entering your event. However, once in the meeting, the participants can activate both. If you want participants to stay muted and without video, you must instruct them in your invitation email. Once in the meeting, you will have the option to “mute all” participants. See Participant Management below.
Private Chat: De-activating this setting (turning the button grey) will prevent participants from sending chat messages to other participants.
Polling: Simple polls created and activated during an event can provide useful information and keep participants engaged.
Non-Verbal Feedback: Activating the “Non-Verbal” feature allows participants to give quick responses, such as “yes/no” or “thumbs up/down.”
Waiting Room: If you activate this, it doesn’t mean you have to use it with every meeting. You can de-activate when creating your invitation.
Annotation and Whiteboard: These are both options you might use when sharing your screen.
What to Include in a Virtual Meeting Invitation
Whether you send an email with a copy of the meeting invitation or a link to register, it’s a good idea to encourage participants...
- To connect early and test audio (speakers)
- To keep their audio/video off, if the event has many participants
- Provide a telephone number for tech support during the event.
Plan a Welcoming, Professional Environment
The beauty of virtual events is that the host and participants can connect from anywhere. Since it’s important for the presenter to be “on camera” as much as possible, both the presenter and her surroundings should be welcoming and professional.
Wardrobe: Keep it simple. Avoid very bright or very dark colors, patterns, and sparkly, noisy jewelry--all of which can interfere with video and/or audio quality.
Well lit. The best environment is one where you can control the lighting. Avoid setting up with a window nearby, especially behind you. Make sure you have adequate lighting so everyone can see you. Adjust lighting to present the best you.
General Meeting Setting. The best presentations are ones that “mix it up.” That is, the presenter should plan to share her expertise, useful content, and, when appropriate, include participant activities. All these things are easy to do with your ZOOM controls at your fingertips. Most likely, you’ll want to conduct your virtual meeting at a desk with easy access to your computer. Your background (what’s behind you and your computer) should be neutral and professional looking. A virtual background offers an easy solution (without the need for a green screen) if your computer meets the option’s tech requirements.
Meeting Design Considerations
Prepare to Engage
When it comes to engagement, there are pros and cons to both in-person or virtual meetings. Since you don’t have the advantage of physically being with and responding to your group, you’ll have to rely on other strategies.
Keep it Simple. A 45-50 minute length is optimal (less is fine, of course) for most virtual meetings. It’s better to break the topic into a series of presentations at different times than to try to cover it all in one long virtual meeting. If you need to run a longer meeting, be sure to give breaks.
One exception might be workshops, during which participants will be collaborating and/or planning. For such meetings, you might want to create Breakout Rooms.
Be On-Camera. Your participants are excited to learn from you. They want to see you. They want to sense your enthusiasm for the topic.
Share different media (ie, PowerPoint, video, whiteboard). Breaking up your presentation with different media will help to keep participants engaged. Visuals, such as PP slides and short videos, reinforce your messages and make what you're presenting more memorable. However, participants want to see you, so close out of screen sharing frequently.
Note: When sharing a videoclip, be sure to click the “Share computer sound” button
Create Polls. This isn’t a virtual meeting “must,” but it’s a simple way to interact with your group and quickly learn about them.
Practice. Just like your in-person presentation, it’s a good idea to do a run-through prior to your meeting. Get used to switching to different media and Zoom features such as polling, chat and breakout sessions.
Time to Connect
Be sure to connect a few minutes early.
- Activate “mute all” in the “Participants” box.
- Allow a few minutes for everyone to enter the meeting.
- You might want to play a video during this time, so participants know they are properly set up to see and hear your presentation.
- You’ll want to pin your video, especially for large groups and if you plan to record the session.
Once the presenter is on-camera…
It’s nice to begin with a little “happy talk.” This allows latecomers to join without missing anything important and lets participants know that you are “live” and excited to meet with them.
Asking participants to answer a question in the chat box is another way to quickly connect with participants before starting your presentation. A presenter might ask participants to “chat” where they are from (what state or school district?) And then welcome them.
Your participants may or may not be familiar with Zoom. Let them know how you’ve set up your presentation. For instance, inform that…
- Everyone should click “speaker view.”
- Everyone is muted
- Everyone can chat with the host.
- For smaller, more interactive meetings, you might allow participants to use the non-verbal signals.
- When sharing content, participants can increase the size of the presenter’s PIP by going into “View Options” and clicking side-by-side mode. This allows them to watch content and the speaker at the same time.
Start Your Presentation
Stay on-camera as much as possible. You want them to see your enthusiasm for your topic.
Break up your presentation by sharing media and engaging with participants via chat, polling and if a small enough group, an unmuted exchange.
Co-host. If you have the luxury of a co-worker’s help, you can make that person your co-host. The co-host can monitor the chat and polling options, share content, control the recording and more. For more interactive sessions, co-host might manage “mute/unmute” and “non-verbal signal” activity.