With presentations moving into a virtual format and looking ready to live even after the end of the epidemic, many have found it challenging to talk with just a webcam light. One of us (RG) recently gave a virtual talk at an international meeting at the end of a long day of presentations.
Not being able to watch the audience, she had no idea that people were paying attention, checking e-mail, or playing on her phone. In this reaction it becomes challenging to maintain vacuum, a gripping, attractive adhesion.
One way to maintain engagement is to pay attention to the use of your language. We both have experience in: V.F. Is a sociologist who has studied for 25 years how speech is tied to identity and brings linguistic research to capture how and why we say what we do. R.G. Works in adult learning and leadership development, and works with faculty members on how to improve their virtual presence during presentations.
It is not always clear how small linguistic choices we make affect the audience. Here are some ways you can improve your virtual presentation style based on linguistic research.
Throw out some questions
Muting your audience does not lead to vigorous conversation, so it is useful to remember that questions are powerful linguistic tools. Most people, having been trained in the rules of conversation since they were children, would be familiar with the idea that questions call for answers.
Therefore, find several points in your presentation where you can invite verbal feedback – such as by asking your listeners to share relevant experiences, or by examining what they know about the topic at hand.
It can take longer to get a response than in a non-virtual space, so don’t worry about time lapse before the audience replies (you can probably call a partner you know to get things done Would be comfortable for). Even if your audience needs to remain silent, asking rhetorical questions and pausing for a few moments helps people think about your topic and gain their relevance.
Many people may have questions or ideas but may not be ready to speak in front of a virtual crowd, so encourage them to use the chat feature (and remember to check it out).
Different from your vocal pitch
When we are face to face, we often rely on gestures, eye contact and body movements to keep things interesting. When we place just the other face on the computer screen, our ability to include this extra communication layer in the spoken word is impaired.
This is where voice can become an asset. When we rely too much on reading from notes or explaining points on slides, we forget to get excited about what we are saying. The study suggests that speakers who change their pitch are perceived as showing more joy and emotion 1, so it is an easy way to maintain audience interest and communicate enthusiasm about a topic is.
People who read books aloud to children already know how to do it. Try to remind yourself to emphasize parts of your presentation with a different pitch, or use a higher emerging pitch as you question one of those statements.
Umm and uh ok
Stuffed stagnation, such as familiar and ums’ and ‘uhs’ that pepper speech, is a sign of cognitive effort. In other words, they come up when we are thinking hard or find what we want to say. Presenting involves more cognitive processing than just casual conversation.
The study shows that oom and uh increase when speakers play a role in directing, using complex words and sentences or discussing abstract topics 2: all aspects that are inherent in virtual presentations.
Psychological research suggests that filled poses are surprisingly beneficial from the audience’s point of view, even though speakers often try to avoid them.
When information precedes a filled pause, studies show that listeners have better memory and recall of that information 3,4. Put another way, hesitation tells the audience to pay attention to what is coming.
But using too many full poses can also lead to the perception that a speaker lacks authority and credibility. So, although being familiar and familiar with what you are planning to say, your aud and UHS will be minimized, if very few people get upset, they don’t worry – they are actually your audience. Can help you remember what you said.
Communicating enthusiasm and enthusiasm helps keep people engaged, thereby avoiding the fatigue of the dreaded video-conference or, worse, becoming a shining audience.