By Michael Kolowich published December 19, 2011

5 Tips for Injecting Personality into Your Online Presentations

At the heart of every great presentation is a skilled presenter. Great presenters are storytellers. And because audiences need more than slides, they tell stories with powerful interpersonal communication tools, like gestures, posture, and facial expressions. Great presenters know we’re wired for body language.

But in the digital age we have fewer opportunities to connect with our audiences on a personal level. We increasingly use online presentations, webinars, and meeting tools, which often fail to capture the body language and personality of the speaker.

The result? They fall flat, failing to take full advantage of the power of personality and storytelling that a good presenter offers to a live audience.

So what’s a content marketer to do?

1. Fully exploit video

The “disembodied voice” approach to online presentations needs to evolve. Audio-only online presentations — from webinars to online meetings, from voiced-over sales decks to screen-sharing tools — are popular. But this popularity comes at a cost: Most online presentations lack personality and effectiveness.

An audio-only online presentation is handicapped right from the start, as the medium robs the speaker of many of the visual communication tools that are available to a live presenter. No eye contact. No smile. No confident stance.

Put your best foot forward and deliver more “you” with online presentation tools that use video, not just audio.

Take a look, for example, at this online presentation from Australis Aquaculture. Pairing the CEO with an energetic product manager to tell the story of sustainable seafood, and sprinkling it with b-roll video, helps move the story along and personalizes the message.

2. Plan your presentation with online distribution in mind

So often, presentations are designed for a live event with digital capture and distribution as an afterthought. Of course you’ll send the slides after the presentation… but with no presenter, will your message seem out of context and your points be lost on your post-live audience? Capture your presenter live alongside your deck in all their hand-waving, storytelling glory and you’ll increase your chances that your audience will connect with the on-demand version of your insight.

Once the multimedia team at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise started looking around, for example, they quickly found that potential content marketing material was all around them. This keynote address by President Tom Burns, for example, was quickly turned into enduring online content that continues to work well as a demand generation and lead nurturing effort long after the live presentation has faded into memory.

3. Understand your goals — and the goals of your audience

By attempting to satisfy both your organizational goals and those of your audience, you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your online presentation. Think about all your possible objectives for creating an online video presentation — and why your audience would sit through it. You may be looking to establish thought leadership and capture leads, or it could be that developing a fabulous online presentation is the key to your viral branding strategy. But what’s in it for them? Your audience has no interest in becoming your lead, but would love to evaluate your expertise and learn something new. When you hit the jackpot and exchange value, your presentation naturally becomes more personal.

International consulting firm Parthenon Group, for example, produces a series of thought leadership presentations by its chief economist, Roger Brinner, that directly addresses key client and prospect anxieties about the state of the economy. Brinner’s quiet authority comes through clearly in these video presentations, in a way that it simply would not using audio-narrated slides.

4. Move beyond PowerPoint by including a range of existing digital content types

Adding video to your online PowerPoint presentations will transform their effectiveness. But consider all the other great content you already have. Online video presentation tools that are on the market allow you to also pull in rich text, animations, ads, JavaScript applets, images, and more for an unique interactive experience. Your audience will thank you for not boring them with the same old flat slides. Just about anything you can render on your website can now be incorporated in an online video presentation. Get creative, save time, save money, and extend the life of all that content you worked so hard to develop.

New online presentation platforms allow live web pages to be synchronized into a presentation or webinar, for example. This is perfect for taking polls and displaying real-time results, or even for taking orders right in the presentation window.

5. Look for powerful, flexible online presentations tools, but start with what’s simple

Luckily, today’s most advanced online presentation platforms don’t stop at video synchronization. They further enhance the experience by providing just-in-time footnotes, virtual handouts, calls-to-action, forms, quizzes, surveys, interactive transcripts, and other tools as part of the entire interactive experience. And they augment that experience with powerful analytics that show how the presentation material is being interacted with. We’ve built all that capability into KnowledgeVision, but other platforms will undoubtedly be adding some of these features in the future, as well.

Most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do too much, too early. Start simply, getting your bearings with basic, on-demand video presentations and adding powerful features and even moving to live streaming later on. It really is easier than ever to create video presentations for an online, 24/7, anytime/ anywhere world.

Author: Michael Kolowich

A 20-year pioneer in online content, Michael Kolowich is CEO and founder of KnowledgeVision, a platform for creating interactive video marketing assets from PowerPoint presentations. A former Emmy-winning TV news reporter, he went on to be Chief Marketing Officer at Lotus, founded ZDNet and NewsEdge, led AT&T's new media initiatives, and was CEO of Individual Incorporated, the first internet content IPO. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelKolowich.

Other posts by Michael Kolowich

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