Love Public Speaking Online

November 22, 2021

Public Speaking has been a hot topic for years with people from all walks of life seeking to master the holy grail of communication skills. The general consensus in business is that public speaking and sales skills are the most important ‘soft skills’ to master. These skills are actually not so soft, they can be very hard on the bottom line when they are not done to a high standard.

This article focuses on how you can improve your Public Speaking abilities, why be mediocre at something when you can be excellent?

We have already established that in the current age public speaking is so much more than a soft skill. Consider your own experiences of sitting through lacklustre presentations where you have to apply your mental resources to focus on what is being said, because the speaker lacks the ability to communicate in an engaging manner with their audience.

The world of public speaking has changed significantly.  In the last 18 months, the big auditorium conferences have all but disappeared, and a lot of content is now delivered via live stream on various platforms, with people logging on and having access to presentations previously given to live audiences in the physical world.

The audiences have shown great flexibility and commitment to the changing world of presentations and have adapted to the new way. The same cannot be said for the presenters, many of whom have failed to learn how to communicate effectively to engage their audiences in a live stream presentation.

A lot of trainers and presenters are familiar with video conferencing as a medium for one to one coaching, or coaching small groups of two, three people. This is a very different communication style in comparison to delivering a live stream presentation to fifty or more people. The mistake many presenters make when delivering a large online presentation is that they are on their laptop, looking down at the camera, and talking as if they are in a small group meeting. The end user experiences this as the speaker, lacking eye contact, and the tonality, lacks engagement, and often the sound quality is poor.

The people at home often have high tech equipment, they are watching on a big screen with surround sound, and their experience is a monotone presentation with poor quality sound and a presenter who appears to be looking at the floor.

A few months ago, I experienced what I would say was the worst online presentation I have ever seen, the guy sitting at home on his couch, his eye contact with the camera was zero, the sound quality very poor, which had the effect of amplifying the higher pitches in already nasal tones. This was not helped by the fact that he was trying to sound as if he was American, (he isn’t), which as he progressed seemed to add to his own discomfort. It certainly was uncomfortable to watch and listen to. The fact that this presentation was centred around ‘communication skills’ made it even more difficult to accept any of the content which was being offered.

Public speaking online is new for most of us, and we all are going through a learning curve.

It is important for public speakers and educators to adapt so that the live stream experience becomes isomorphic to the experience of a large group, real world presentation. Again, there is a difference in presenting to larger groups online than smaller more intimate groups.

Over the last 18 months I have been delivering live stream training to groups which prior to the pandemic would have attended in a live venue. I began on a laptop, and over the 250 days of training I have delivered since then, I learned to adapt and develop the skills for training and presenting in the virtual world. Below are some ideas, for those seeking to develop their skills as an online trainer and presenter.

1. Invest in high quality equipment, i.e camera, microphone, large monitor and lighting.

This is important if you are seeking to engage large groups from your laptop camera, it’s difficult (not impossible) to get the large group feel.

2. Position your camera, at eye level two metres from where you are standing.

In this setting your head will be upright and the people at home will perceive eye contact from you. Also you will be more likely to naturally project your voice as if you were talking to a large group.

3. Have at least one large screen, directly in front of you, just behind the camera so you can see the participants in gallery view.

Remember, most people will be watching in speaker view, so it’s important that you keep eye contact at the camera, or just off camera.

4. When taking questions, switch to speaker view, so you have your attention and communication style in a ‘one to one’ mode, which of course is different than when you are addressing 50 people.

When answering questions from individuals, soften your tonality and reduce the volume of your voice, so you are mirroring the natural anchors which make distinct communication with an individual, to how you of communicate with large groups.

5. Project your voice as if the people were in the room with you.

If you have 50 people online, talk in the style as if 50 people are in front of you, and smile accordingly. By contrast reduce the size of your gestures, as gestures online take up a significantly greater portion of the available visual space available to the viewers as opposed to the physical world, this is particularly useful when addressing individuals. So, instead of using big gestures, add or reduce 20% on a tonal variant to mark out the part of the presentation you would usually mark out with gestures. I have had to work at this, as I naturally use a lot of gestures.

6. Take lots of breaks. Emulating the communication style you naturally use for large groups can consume a lot of your energy when presenting online.

The people at home will also need breaks from the increased use of foveal vision, and the style of attention used for participating in online events.

As I mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I have delivered over 250 days of live stream training in the last 18 months, and it has been an incredible learning curve.

Also, as referenced in the earlier paragraph, the audiences at home are very open and adaptable to the virtual world of learning we are living in, it is therefore the duty of trainers and presenters to adapt and be able to engage the ‘at home learner’ by offering a high quality learning experience.

Over the dates 15 – 19 November, NLP co – creator John Grinder, New Code NLP co-creator Carmen Bostic St Clair, and myself, will be delivering our world renowned Love Public Speaking course to a global audience of people, seeking to learn to deliver brilliant online presentations. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to work effectively with online groups and practice the skills I have mentioned in this article.

To find out how, click this link – Love Public Speaking Online

Written by Michael Carroll

Michael Carroll is the Founder and Course Director of The NLP Academy, established in 1996. Michael is the business partner and personal friend of NLP co-creator John Grinder and New Code NLP co-creator Carmen Bostic St Clair. Together, Michael, John and Carmen are an incredible team in bringing the highest standard of NLP education to a global audience.

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