Doing It on Zoom

With the Coronavirus Pandemic, many people can only attend events that are held on-line. Zoom has become all too common for some of us. It can be a dry, lifeless platform, but there are a few techniques and tricks you can use to help make Zoom presentations engaging. Below are eight tips for you.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

First though here is a little something extra to consider. When people come to Zoom presentation or workshop (or are forced to attend for their work or school) they come with both stated and unstated needs and expectations. Yes, they expect the Zoom will be about the topic advertised, but emotionally people also come with hopes and needs they may not fully realize affect them.

These days people are isolated and alone. They may feel frightened and unsure of the present and the future. While you cannot meet everyone’s emotional needs, you can anticipate some of them and attempt address them through the activities you design for your presentation.

  • Many people are looking for a connection with another person. Just giving small groups of people a chance to connect in a break-out room can be the highlight for someone.
  • People want to be seen and heard. Acknowledging people by just saying their names is a start. Depending on the type of presentation, you will be able to engage people in ways that affirms them and their presence.
  • Some people feel anxious in Zoom and easily fatigued. Allow people options to opt out of activities. Also, if the session is longer than an hour, give everyone a bio break and stretch breaks.
  • People need an escape. While it is impossible to give a presentation without any reference to the current pandemic, you can create a space where we can leave that all outside the Zoom for a time.
  • Finally, it can be very helpful to people’s mental health to travel in time Post-Covid. Ask participants, Once the Covid Pandemic is truly over, and you can go out freely & safely, what is something you plan to do to re-engage with the world or to celebrate?

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Instagram

Eight Tips for Engaging and Memorable Zoom Meetings and Presentations

  1. Keep it short! If your normal presentation is 60 minutes, try to brung it down to 30 or even 15 minutes
  2. Switch it up. On Zoom adults have the attention span of 11 year olds in a classroom before they go on the playground. Keep it engaging by switching up the presentation style at least every 10 minutes. If you talk for 5 minutes, then switch to a short film, then switch to an interactive poll.
  3. Use engaging, high resolution images. Zoom is a visual medium, so when talking, put up some slides of photos that enhance what you are saying. You can find excellent images for free at UnSplash.
  4. Keep text on slides to the bare minimum. You want your audience listening to you, not reading. Unless you want them to read, then put up the text and be quiet.
  5. Make it interactive. Even in little ways, get the audience to participate. They can respond to a poll, share something in the chat, or even do some hand motions at your direction.
  6. Look into the camera. You want people to sense you care about them and are interested in them.
  7. Get assistance. The bigger the presentation, the more help you will need to pull off a creative, engaging, presentation with few distractions. Create a small team to help with some of the tasks like letting people in from the waiting room or collecting questions through the chat, so you can focus on your presentation.
  8. Practice! Ask a friend or friends to sit in on a Zoom rehearsal. The more you practice the smoother it will flow. It will also give you more confidence. Whenever I am looking for feedback, I always ask, “If there was one part I should not take out, what it is?”

Relax and have fun. People are not just there for the content you share, but also for the opportunity to connect with you and others. If you mess up, don’t get flustered. People relate to people who are imperfect.

If you want to see how I model some of these practices, here is a 15 minutes presentation I gave for the BTS Center’s book study of Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis.

Peterson Toscano’s Presentation from The BTS Center on Vimeo.

Featured Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash


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