These days, many if not most of us connect with co-workers and customers in a “hybrid” work environment. This could mean anything from the occasional Zoom call or meeting to the hybrid high-wire act of presenting to a virtual and in-person audience at the same time. The latter has become much more common.
Fortunately, the key delivery skills such as eye contact, vocal tone, pausing to eliminate filler words, gestures and facial animation are always important. For any type of presentation, you need to K.N.O.W. your audience, have an attention-getting opening, and a message that flows in an easy-to-follow way from opening to an action-oriented closing. These skills will serve you well in virtual, in-person, or hybrid situations.
But for hybrid meetings and presentations, there are important differences in how they are implemented, particularly since hybrid meetings and presentations with combination virtual and in-person audiences are becoming more common. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when presenting to a hybrid audience:
- Eye contact. Make sure your camera is at your eye level and treat it as if it was another audience member. Make eye contact with the camera for the length of a sentence, as you would with your in-person audience members. (Read more about the importance of eye contact here.) It’s tempting to look at the screen, but virtual eye contact means looking at the camera.
- Gestures and movement. Check your space beforehand to determine how far you can move and still stay within view of the camera. You might not be able to move as far as you normally would during an in-person meeting or you might be seated, and not able to move from your chair. That means gestures and facial animation become even more important. Your gestures and facial expressions communicate your enthusiasm to your audience.
- Use visual aids carefully. Slides are the best way to handle visual aids for a hybrid audience. Test beforehand to make sure both audiences can see the slides clearly. If you would normally use a flip pad to write on, consider using the pen tool and write on a slide instead.
The best way to keep your delivery skills sharp is practice and asking for feedback. You can easily set up practice sessions yourself – record yourself on your phone presenting to an imaginary audience. (To make it easier to imagine, and especially to practice eye contact, cut faces out from magazines and tape them to chairs. Don’t forget the camera, too.)
Feedback is not always easy to get – it’s a significant ask from a friend, family member, or colleague. And even if they are willing to take the time, their feedback may not be particularly accurate or helpful. But feedback from a professional facilitator in a supportive environment will almost always result in significant improvements. That’s what we do here at ProComm Ltd.