Updated: Jan 23
A great practical guide by Adi Barill, a marketing & communications consultant, and a video meeting expert.
The dilemma of sharing slides or not on online presentations is one faced by anyone who regularly uses Zoom, Teams, Google Meets, Skype, etc.
Some think that an impressive ‘show’ made by the presenter is enough and that screen sharing with slides from a Powerpoint presentation (or other apps) would distract the attention from the speaker and their messages. Others feel it is a ‘must’ and that it can provide added value, a ‘wow’ effect that allows the story to be told better through visualization and data.
As in most cases, there’s no right answer. The decision of using a PowerPoint (PPT.) presentation or a similar application, will depend on the type of message and content, the audience, and the presenter. However, it is safe to say that if you feel it’s a good idea to use a presentation in a face-to-face meeting, the same will apply to an online one.
Yet, if you decide to present with slides, you’ll need to make some adjustments to fit the small screen and the remote audience.
What are the changes recommended when presenting online?
1. Use thicker fonts and adjust them to larger sizes
When you share your screen during an online presentation, the resolution drops. In addition, the screen we display is smaller than screens in conference rooms or on stage. Sometimes, invitees are watching on their phones. The fonts and the presentation elements, in general, need to be large so that everyone can figure them out. Presentations with tiny and slim fonts will not look clear or readable.
2. Place short texts and divide the message into several slides
Viewers lose interest quickly when sitting in front of the screen for a long time, so it is worth using many slides. The rapid transition between them will help keep the participants interested.
Adi Barill, slides as a virtual background
3. Make your point clear in a headline
When displaying figures, avoid charts with tiny numbers. A common mistake is to place very detailed charts and diagrams with very small letters and numbers that are hard to read. So, enlarge the font size. Also, present the bottom line of the data in words. For example, “85% of customers think that …”. Don’t leave it to the participants to understand the statistics and draw their own conclusions.
4. Use images and illustrations
The human brain processes information in many ways. Visualization makes the story and message more memorable.
5. Ensure the slides are not cluttered
By keeping texts short and to the point. Avoid using bright colors that glare on the screen.
More insights for sharing presentations online
SlidesPro. Combining Powerpoint and the speaker on the same page in 3 minutes 6. You can also share your presentation as a virtual background behind the speaker. On Zoom, it will be on ‘advanced video settings’, then ‘Share slides as a virtual background’. The drawback is that videos, animations, and embedded audio won’t work. The reason is that the app turns the slides into background images.
7. Another impressive option from the ’embedded presentations’ genre would be integrating the presentation as part of a virtual background that looks as if the presenter is standing in an office with a screen showing the slides. The easiest way to do this is through SlidesPro.
How do we do it? Upload your presentation to SlidesPro and choose your preferred background. The presentation will be added automatically and all you have to do is to upload it to Zoom.
8. Sometimes all you need is four to five slides. If that’s the case, then use the slides economically – present them only when speaking about their content and then go back to full-screen mode.
9. While in many cases, the slides appear on a full screen and the speaker is in a small square corner, there is a variety of options worth considering, where the speaker appears next to the slides.
One way of doing this is by clicking on ‘view options’ and selecting ‘side by side’ (read ‘how to‘ by Zoom). You can then move the boundary between them so that both sides are proportionally enlarged or reduced. (this is on Zoom, but applies in other apps in various ways)
10. If you don’t feel confident with the technology or are afraid that the presentation’s operational aspects will distract you, ask someone to stand in as ‘co-host’ to handle the technical aspects.