Today, virtual meetings are the most efficient way to hold business meetings. They can be used for business meetings with colleagues and employees, for employee training, customer interaction, document review, and sales presentations. However, let's be honest, have you noticed that many of these presentations score a distant second to watching paint dry? That may sound extreme, but when you have attention deficit disorder, extreme doesn't even come close. Some people view having attention deficit disorder as a weakness, but we pay attention to what grabs and holds our attention. Also, I don’t think it’s an ADD thing. For years, I have been educating leaders that if you value your content, you find a way to make it stick. Otherwise, the information goes in one ear and out the other. Case in point, I have been learning to adapt from speaking in front of live audiences to speaking people through a camera. And, already, my virtual speeches are the talk of the town, and the reason why is because they are ADD friendly. They are fun, engaging, informative, and a little entertaining. I don’t even use charts, widgets, or slides.
Partnering your content with a little spice is a great way to bring your presentation to life. You don’ have to go bananas with it, but again – if you are not captivating and holding someone’s attention, then you are just wasting your time and theirs.
Here are nine ways to spice up your virtual presentations with little engagement, fun, and entertainment.
- Shorten the sessions. I will admit, for me to sit and listen to a presentation virtually for an hour is tough. So one thing I do is to shorten my sessions to 35-45 minutes. If your presentation requires more time, take a break and let people get up, stretch, use the restroom, grab a snack, and come back. Don’t try to force or cram everything into a time frame that loses the attention of your audience.
- Go back and watch a few episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Pee Wees Play House, and Blues Clues. While this sounds silly and perhaps to some of you a waste of time, this is amazing training….in my opinion, it is the best training for how to engage people virtually. This right here has been my top secret for virtual meeting success. I have three kids under the age of 6 and they watch these shows, but if you watch them - watch how they engage the camera, tone of voice, facial expressions, Study how others are doing their virtual sessions – example: Late Night Talk Show Hosts. They too are having to work remotely and keep things entertaining so you are engaged. Observe what you like and what works. Take notes and then use these notes to improve the quality of your presentation.
- Have a surprise guest. Already I have been a surprise guest on Zoom calls. If you have a meeting agenda, I understand there is a lot to cover and you want to get through it all and ensure that it was effective. So, break up the virtual agenda with a surprise guest that will inspire or make you laugh. Typically this can be a few minutes up to 10 minutes. Be flexible if the reception of that guest is going well. One of my clients picked my book for a book club while everyone is working remotely when they called in to discuss the book…they were all surprised, excited and happy when I was introduced as a surprise guest. They told me later, it made everyone’s day. Also, I saw that Will Ferrell made a surprise guest for the Seattle Seahawks NFL football team and it was hilarious. The players and coaches love it.
Have a creative surprise guest. For my birthday, my wife got me a Bob Ross Bobblehead. So, on one of my virtual sessions, I broke things up a little by bringing him into the camera frame and everyone got a kick out of it. Since I did three sessions with this group, on the final session, I misplaced Bob Ross Bobblehead. Everyone was asking if he was going to make an appearance. Since I couldn’t find him, my daughter let me borrow one of her dolls that looked like it was in the moving The Shining. It got a great laugh.
- Have some giveaways and prizes. In every virtual meeting I do, I always give away one of my original paintings. I make it a contest and this creates engagement. So, you can set up a survey on survey monkey and if 300 people fill it out, you can randomly pick 1 to 10 winners or give everyone something. Be creative. If you could win something, what would it be – a visa gift card? $200 Starbucks gift card?
- Be creative and a little cheesy. On one zoom call, someone dressed up as a character and did a creative skit. It was funny and cheesy. But, here is the gem – cheesy sticks. I didn’t say foolish, I said cheesy. Can you think of a funny movie line from a movie that is over 10 years old? I bet most of you can and the reason why we remember the cheese. “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug!” What movie?
- Funny or humorous slides and videos. This can be a very effective way to get your message across while grabbing everyone’s attention and a funny bone.
- Plan for Participation. The best meetings occur when participants are actively engaged through commenting, brainstorming, and asking questions. Typically, when I reach the end of my virtual sessions, I allow time for Q&A. I may ask a few questions myself, which spurs more engagement.
- Tell a good story. If there is one thing people remember – its stories! I use stories in all my talks and one of the reasons why is it allows me to incorporate content in a way so it is remembered. When I sit down to read stories to my kids, they remember the ones that are their favorites. They remember characters, plot points, and if I skip a page. But, stories are a great way to pull people in and incorporate some key informative points.
- End on time. One way to lose your crowd is by going over the scheduled time. If you want, offer what I call and after show…for those who want to stick around and keep the party going. Most people have agendas, so you want to be sensitive and respect other people’s time.
The most important thing to remember is don’t force things. Rather try new things to help spice up a virtual session that makes it more memorable and engaging. Make it an experience that makes a positive impression. Learn from what works and what doesn’t work. But, relax and do your best. If you have more ideas, I would love to hear from you and learn from you. Feel free to email me more suggestions at info@Samglenn.com.