Seven tips to ace your online presentations

These useful tips and tricks will help up your presentation skills for school or work.

Celeste Lim

Yogurt lover with a Spotify playlist for every mood.

Published: 18 May 2021, 11:37 AM

Presenting in front of a group of people is never easy. For some, virtual presentations may be even scarier because there is much more that could go wrong.

To help combat your presentation “cold feet”, here are some nifty tricks that will ensure your presentations are both memorable and interesting.

1. Maintain “eye contact” by looking at your webcam

During presentations, you have to make eye contact to engage your audience. This also applies to virtual presentations – just pretend your laptop’s webcam is the “eye” of your viewers. 


Ensure your laptop is at eye level, either by adjusting your chair’s height or using a laptop stand. PHOTO CREDIT: SAMULE SUN VIA UNSPLASH


You may instinctively look at your screen when presenting, but to the viewers, it looks as if you are looking away from them. To remind yourself to look at the webcam, paste a bright sticky note behind your webcam.

2. Memorise important points instead of reading from a script

It can be tempting to read your presentation script directly from your laptop, but reading from your script is a big no-no. 

When you read from left to right, your eyeballs will shift in the same direction. Because your webcam is so close to your face, this can be very obvious.

Instead of reading word for word, we encourage you to briefly refer to your notes if you have to, but remember to continue to make eye contact.

3. Use the "pin" function to avoid looking at multiple faces

Most video conference platforms should come with a function to ‘pin’ any participant’s video. If looking at a crowd of faces intimidates you, you can always ‘pin’ your friend’s video to quell your nerves. 

You can let your friends know you will be pinning their videos beforehand, so they know they should nod and smile supportively while you present. Make sure they don’t distract you by making funny faces!

Alternatively, you can pin your own video to monitor your presentation.

4. Use body language by making hand gestures

You may be conducting a presentation online, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use body language. Ensure the webcam captures your upper arms and shoulders, and use fluid gestures when speaking.


Studies show that communication is 93 per cent non-verbal, and 55 per cent of non-verbal communication is based on body language. PHOTO CREDIT: DYLAN FERREIRA VIA UNSPLASH


Your face also takes up a large portion of the screen, so make sure to also use facial expressions, such as smiling, to show your enthusiasm.

5. Take note of your surroundings

If your background is too messy, it leaves a poor impression and can be a huge distraction. To come across as professional and organised, you should clear the things behind you.

Alternatively, you can blur your background or set a virtual background. Bonus points if your entire group has the same background during a presentation, as it looks cohesive.

6. Keep slides simple and engaging

During a virtual presentation, slides take up a huge portion of the viewers’ screens. If your slides are not engaging enough, you may lose your audience’s attention.


Zoom even has a function to set your slides as your virtual background, which can further engage your audience. PHOTO CREDIT: ZOOM


To make slides that will hold your audience’s attention, you can use more images and less text, as well as use transitions to display one point at a time. But use these animations sparingly!

Keep your slides simple by avoiding adding chunks of texts or too many images, as not everyone is viewing your slides in fullscreen. On a smaller screen resolution, your slides could look cluttered and messy.

Keeping your slides simple also helps prevent lag, as sharing your screen on video conference applications can lead to streaming issues, especially if your viewers have a weaker Internet connection. 

7. Rehearse with the same platform beforehand

Before your presentation, do a final “dress rehearsal” with the same platform, background, and audio accessories that you plan on using for your presentation. This will prevent any technical difficulties, such as your earpiece’s microphone not working.

You can invite a friend or use a screen recorder to monitor your presentation and get feedback from them on how to improve.

As with any presentation, remember you have to know your own content well so you can present confidently and answer any questions. Good luck!

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