8 Tips For a Great Online Presentation
In a world turned upside-down, many of us are turning to Skype and Zoom to share our ideas and beat boredom. Check out this blog for my hints and tips on how to crack the code!
Well, before I kick off, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking the time to support me (Vinny Sagoo), by reading this blog and everything else that you do! It has been a great journey so far meeting you at conventions, dealer days, virtually or wherever else our paths may have crossed.
I know that things are a little crazy just now, but stay strong, stay safe and better days are just around the corner.
So what is this all about???
Well, this is the third blog in a brand new series of blogs called 'Words of Wisdom', or WOW for short. Previously, I have written quite a few smaller blogs with the view of delivering quick, digestible and topical information for the instant gratification junkies.
However, having spoken to a number of you, I understand that you yearn for more meaningful blogs that you can really sink your teeth into.
These blogs are not aimed to showcase my latest and greatest products, but to simply garnish the mind. If you fancy buying me a cup of coffee or slice of cake, or even both, then I have added a donation button at the bottom, which helps towards the countless days it takes to write, edit and publish monster blogs like this.
Kind people are my kind of people!
As always, I humbly welcome you to WOW #3 - '8 Tips For a Great Online Presentation'.
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2020, Wish I Could Have Seen You Coming...
Like many others, two months ago my diary was JAM packed with lectures, gigs and conventions. I thought that 2020 would be the year that lifted Neo Magic from being a small family business, to something with an international prominence.
I had plans to visit the US and other European countries, teaching my own unique style of magic and mentalism. This is something that I had dreamt about all of my life, 2020 was here and I was ready to kick some A$$!
... well, that's what I thought anyway.
Fast forward a few months and all of my events have been cancelled. I was utterly devastated as I could no longer lecture at the Merlins Day of Magic, marking 25 years of being in business. In addition, I was due to attend the Hope for Justice Midlands Magic Convention, which was organised to raise money for charity.
It would appear that our fundamental rights of liberty would be curtailed globally, in a way NEVER seen before.
If you have just returned to planet earth, you will notice that it is a quieter place, for we are amidst the one of the MOST daunting times in millennia.
As a new business, EVERY penny I earn, I reinvest into the business. This comes in the form of advertising, buying materials, props, utilities, subscriptions, travelling and creating various prototypes before the final product is viable. If all of my engagements have dried up, it seems INEVITABLE that the business will begin to falter.
However, with new problems come new solutions...
As Maya Angelou said, “If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. You have to believe in yourself that in times of uncertainty, your confidence and attitude are the main catalysts to surmount hurdles of adversity.
Your perception of the world is either NEGATIVE, or POSITIVE.
I found that losing my engagements was a big loss, however, the rest of the world is also in a similar situation. I revised my views and elected to take my lectures to the virtual arena.
“If you can’t change it, change your attitude”
In retrospect, if this pandemic had been some 15 - 20 years earlier, we would NOT have the benefit of social media, mobile phones, Netflix or video conferencing. We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can order magic tricks, read the news and talk to our friends on the other side of the globe with a few sporadic clicks.
In MY view, as the Coronavirus (COVID-19), pandemic causes mass disruption around the world, it also brings us closer to our families and helps us appreciate the small things in life.
Things that we have taken for GRANTED and have perhaps diminished over time.
We are now re-establishing that HUMAN connection and checking up on people to ensure that they are well, if they need anything and building trust.
Talking about trust, you need to have trust in yourself, as giving a presentation online or in person, is a daunting experience. However, with some helpful tips, even the most 'TRICKIEST' of online presentations should be a 'ZOOM'.
When we are presenting in person, we often pace around the room, use hand gestures and make engaging eye contact with our audience. In the virtual world sitting on your kitchen table, this can feel a little UNNATURAL and RESTRICTED.
So, how can you deliver a cracking presentation or lecture to your audience so that they feel engaged and emotionally connected?
Well, these are my TOP EIGHT TIPS, to ensure that your presentation is a roaring success!
1. Make a Plan
This is the difference between delivering an AVERAGE presentation and a GREAT one. Make a plan of what you are going to cover, how long each topic/trick will last and be sure to factor in some time for questions.
In my first presentation/lecture (I will use these terms interchangeably to mean the same thing), to the Banished Magicians Club in Banbury, I elected to show ONLY 4 tricks. I started off with an introduction about Neo Magic, when the company started, how it started and what our ethos is.
This is the difference between delivering an AVERAGE presentation and a GREAT one.
I then moved onto the various effects, knowing that each one would take about 5 minutes to demonstrate and around 10 minutes to explain. This left around 20 minutes for questions, end remarks and also my special lecture offer. If you so desire, you could also send an agenda of what you are going to cover prior to the presentation and any special offers that you may have.
This will ENSURE that you have a captive audience throughout.
However, it might be wise to keep a few secrets under wraps, which makes your presentation more appealing to the audience. After all, who doesn’t like a surprise, apart from Coronavirus, that can just DO ONE!
Also, try and keep you presentation under 2 hours, with a break half way through. This will help keep the audience engaged, however, don’t be disappointed some of your audience 'disappear' before the second half.
That’s their loss, or maybe your presentation needs more impact and planning?!
2. Test Your Equipment
You might have had the same laptop for a MILLION years, or ordered some new top of the range equipment. It doesn’t matter, make sure that you test the same well ahead of time so that you can overcome any glitches.
In addition, you might have found the perfect spot in your house with regards to lighting and comfort, however, it might not be near a power-point. Ensure that your set-up meets all of your basic needs.
If you are using Skype, Google Meet or Zoom, make sure that you know the restrictions, how to get people connected and also check to see if your mic is working. If you have not used a particular program or your laptop for a while, you might need to update the software, which could be like 50 BILLION GIGABYTES!
You don’t want to start your presentation, by logging off and updating a vital piece of software, leaving your audience waiting for eternity... YAWN!
3. Minimise Distractions
Working from home and presenting creates its own pitfalls, make sure that you are ready to deal with the unexpected.
If you have any pets, try and keep them at bay for the duration of the presentation, the last thing you want is your cat walking over your laptop and starting your 2015 Ibiza slideshow featuring BIG DAVE in his mankini.
Also, tell people that you live with that you will be presenting for the next hour or so and that you should not be disturbed.
In relation to your audience, try and get them to put their microphones on MUTE so that background noise does not distract you or irritate other participants. If you are using the free version of Zoom, you will get 40 minutes before you need to log off and reconnect. I find that this is a nice spot to take a 10 minute break and also prepare for the next 40 minutes.
Although you want to try and minimise disruption, you also need to ensure that your audience engage and participate when necessary. It is often difficult to keep talking into the void, so a quick ice breaker like "name your favourite trick" or "favourite magician", helps connected with one another at the outset.
Don't be disappointed if they don't choose you as their favourite magician!
4. The E.S.P. Philosophy
When I perform my lectures, either online or in person, I make sure that the effects I use are Easy to perform, Simple to understand and extremely Powerful.
As such, when I created Neo Magic, that was the mantra I adopted for all of the effects.
Easy to do - complicated sleights are replaced with careful choreography and engaging presentation.
Simple to learn, which is why I take so long in writing the instructions, taking loads of photo and providing an online video explanation.
Finally, if the effect is Easy and Simple, it must also be Powerful. If there is no WOW factor at the end, then the trick is not going to have the desired impact.
When I demonstrate my effects, I always pick those that concentrate more on the presentation, rather than moves or sleights. In addition, the simplicity allows the recipient to think, wow that was clever and I can do that straight away without having to purchase a number of additional materials and begin an arduous D.I.Y. project.
I am proud that all of my effects carry this E.S.P. seal of APPROVAL and I have always received compliments about the teaching methods.
However, if you are a sleight of hand monkey and your audience is predominantly the same, then make sure that you cover the angles to both perform and demonstrate the effect with relative ease.
5. Practice Your Presentation
There is NO excuse for wasting another’s time by going into a meeting unprepared and rambling on helplessly.
Remember, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
I am not sure who said this, possibly Benjamin Franklin, but it is so bang on the money!
If you turn up to a presentation, decide to wing-it and wonder what went wrong, you are a complete fool! When I performed my first Sky’s The Limit lecture in April 2019, I had rehearsed what I was going to say and do some 50 TIMES or more. Over 2019, I refined the lecture many more times, and when it came to my last lecture at Wolverhampton Magic Circle in December 2019, it had EVOLVED considerably from that initial outing.
I heard John Archer mention during a penguin lecture that he is FOREVER refining jokes and material, depending on what the audience reactions are like. Sometimes the joke falls flat, so he might take it out completely, other times he might use it at a different part of the effect to see how it plays out.
The same applies to any virtual lecture/presentation, make sure that you have total understanding of your effects, any credits and as Harry Robson once said to me, don’t reveal all the different variations at one time, allow the audience to PONDER and ask questions.
Harry Robson has taught me so much, that every time I see him at a convention or event, he always takes the time to discuss what I am doing and how I can improve.
Remember, LOCK your ego away when giving lectures, it will not serve you well in the long run.
Stay humble, stay honest!
I have a short essay on controlling your ego in my Sky’s The Limit book if you are interested to learn more about controlling you ego.
6. Call to Action
If you have a call to action, make sure that you let the audience know so that they stick around. If you are not selling a product or service, then emphasis that this is a FREE lecture that will be of benefit to them and you have some great tips throughout the presentation.
I NEVER turn my lecture into a sales pitch, the products that is sell are of the HIGHEST quality and I am always more than generous with my offer. In my mind, if that person has taken the time to watch my lecture, then I have the DUTY to make sure that it is worth their while.
I also provide a free trick that I teach them there and then, so if they didn’t want to purchase anything, they don’t go away empty handed.
This is the same approach that I take to my lecture in person. If they have taken the time out of their life to drive 20 minutes down the road to watch me lecture for a couple of hours, I OWE them something in return. That’s why I emphasis during my physical lectures that I will teach them everything contained within my lecture notes, which I sell for £20 - £25 each at the end.
They are under NO obligation to buy them and I encourage them to take notes of any effects that they like.
If at the end of the lecture they want to support me and buy a copy of my notes, then that's cool. In my view, people count MORE than profits, so I make sure that I have the chance to speak with everyone, discuss the evening and garner any feedback.
7. Background and Lighting
Make sure that your camera is framed with adequate lighting from the FRONT and SIDE. Also remember, if you are presenting in the evening and have set-up all your equipment during the day, the natural light will have gone by the time your presentation/lecture manifests.
As such, it is WISE to set everything up the day before and go through the lighting to ensure that you and your audience can see what you are demonstrating.
In my case, I had my laptop at an angle, so when it came to demonstrating my effects, I could easily move the laptop down to the close-up mat and present the effect. After, it was simply a matter of lifting the laptop back to my head and shoulders, so that the audience did not feel disengaged.
Another IMPORTANT point is to make sure that your background does not have any sensitive information like utility bill or addresses pinned to a notice board.
I would be inclined to stick to a white background, or somewhere that does not reflect too much light in to the camera lens and make you appear dark, or like a scary silhouette.
As a general rule of thumb the light source should be in front of you and to the side.
8. Dress to Impress
You might think that as this lecture is not in person, you can get away with a pair of HOT PANTS and STRING VEST. Think again, even though the participants are only able to see you from the waist up, make sure that you still dress to impress. This will not only make you look more professional, but also make you feel more relaxed, in control and confident.
Make sure that you smile and engage with your audience, which will help build that emotionally connection, albeit over a virtual connection.
If you want to read more about smiling and body language, make sure that you check out my previous blog called 'Smile To Go' HERE.
I know that presenting is not everyone's forte, therefore, remember don’t be too tough on yourself. Presenting online or in person takes YEARS to finesse, but with the presentation tips provided, a little sprinkle of confidence and some great material, you will no doubt rock it.
If you are feeling anxious before presenting, remember to do a few breathing exercises.
If you want to learn more about combating Performance Anxiety, please check out my blog HERE, which covered a whole range or different things you can do to overcome your nerves.
So, that concludes the third Words of Wisdom (WOW), Blog. I hope you enjoyed it and if you know someone that would glean even a shard of knowledge from it, please forward the same and invite them to subscribe HERE.
Until next time, happy presenting!
- Vinny -
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