How to Present Better Online

We are online SOOO much more now than we ever were. Here are some techniques and pointers for presenting better online. Don’t get me wrong – I am by no means perfect and my dog, Kylo, is a work in progress, so this is as much a post for us as it is for you.

There are number of key areas that we need to cover to be successful and these are as follows :-

  • Personal Presentation – How we look on screen
  • Visual Presentation – Can people properly see/read what we are presenting?
  • Audio – Is the sound quality adequate?
  • Delivery – Are we delivering our message in a way that can be understood
  • Content – Do people understand the content displayed
  • Accessibility – Covers many areas, but in particular are our slide decks accessible
Personal Presentation

Some simple points are as follows:-

  • Use an eye level camera, usually attached to the monitor. Nobody likes looking up your nose 🙂
  • Don’t light from above – far better to have 2 lights left and right. If you have one you might be able to get away with lighting on one side, with the other side using daylight. I put a light onto a tripod, and the other one is just clamped to the desk.
  • Be aware of your background, whether it is tidy or distracting
  • I’m no expert on makeup however the lighting will make more of a difference in my opinion.
Visual Presentation
  • Ensure that there is high contrast between any writing on the screen and the background
  • Don’t overuse acroynms
  • Keep the words on slides to a minimum
  • The delivery to the audience – this fits into many categories, but there is no point in having a sunburst chart if nobody will understand it.
  • Personally, I quite like to have some kind of representative image as much as anything else to get both sides of the brain working and put the viewer in the frame of mind where they are ready to learn
Audio Quality

Poor audio quality will destroy the effectiveness of your presentation. Here are some pointers:-

  • Use a high quality microphone attached to your computer or a headset
  • If using a desktop microphone then sit it on something soft, a bunched up towel so that any vibrations don’t carry through the device
  • If you aren’t live then smooth the sound and remove background noise if this is available to you in your software
  • Many people do “lip smacks” just before they are about to speak, this are clicks that are very discordant when listening through a headphone. Avoid these
man in suit jacket standing beside projector screen
Photo by mentatdgt on
  • It’s hard, but try not to um and er. I do this quite a lot, so I’m definitely advising myself here
  • We all have our idosyncracies, I say “so…” quite a lot, however if you listen to a good teacher they rarely fall into this trap

Tell a story. Humans are hard wired for this and the most successful TED talks all have a storytelling element.

This is what JP Philips has to say on the matter


I find accessibility applicable on many levels. It may apply to people with hearing, sight or other impairment,

  • Personally I dislike busy slides. Keep what is going on to a minimum
  • If the slides are going out then you can add things like Alt-Text so that people can understand the relevance of any images
  • Keep a running commentary of what you are doing
  • Build your presentation in a logical fashion
  • Be clear with your audience as to what pre-requisites are expected of them
  • Use a clear font – curly writing is more difficult to read
  • Writing at an angle or at 90 degrees is much harder for the brain to absorb
Final points

We are all different, some people don’t even like presentations, and whatever your approach you may not hit the mark simply because they absorb information in a different way, so don’t be too disheartened.

Good luck with all your presentations now and in the future.

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