Speaking with Zoom

The History of Public Speaking

Throughout the history of human civilization, people have been expressing their confidence and strength, not only by force, but also by the noble art of public speaking.

The orators of ancient Greece were highly respected and valued in the community. Likewise, today’s world leaders are admired and esteemed when they have the power to address the public with poise and conviction.

Such a high regard for public speaking makes the average person cringe at the idea of talking in front of an audience no matter how big or small the size.

Whether giving a toast at a wedding or delivering a speech to a large assembly, most people make a big deal about public speaking and try to avoid it as much as possible. But public speaking should not cause such a big fuss. Challenging as it may be, public speaking can be done with a few simple guidelines.

Speaking With Zoom as your stage

Speaking in the Zoom environment creates a number of challenges as well as opportunities for public speakers.  2020 has changed how we used to conduct business. From remote work to zoom calls, distant and virtual conversations are the new norms of the business world. Conference calls and virtual meetings are the way that most of us are communicating in business at the moment, and chances are they are going to remain the way we keep in touch for some while. Many of us are becoming “zoomed out”, so it is important that the speaker remembers that as they try to keep the attention of the audience.  Ask some rhetorical questions, maybe post some questions in the chat for people to answer or ask people to post an answer in the chat and read out a few.

“People are still leading meetings, hosting presentations, and joining panel discussions. So though it may be a bedroom instead of a boardroom, we’ve got new stages to share our messages—and we need new ways to effectively communicate them, too.”  https://www.vogue.com/article/virtual-presentation-public-speaking-in-private-tips

Presenting over video generally means speaking at your computer, anxiously wondering how your speech is going down while worrying if people are just seeing the top of your head, or up your nose from the camera angle you’ve chosen. ”  Ensuring that you present the best of yourself, via that little camera at the top of your screen, is really important.

Also, as Sarah Gershman says:  “empathy is especially important over Zoom. Keep in mind that it is difficult and draining to listen to a virtual presentation.”  “By empathizing with your virtual audience, you shift the focus away from yourself (and what others think of you), which relieves speaking anxiety. Empathizing also helps you design a presentation that best helps your audience and serves their needs.”  https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/communication-public-speaking-zoom-presentation-tips.html

“Living rooms are inherently less stuffy than convention centers, and your presentation should reflect that. Depending on the subject matter, this is likely not a time for black-tie formality. Instead, use this opportunity to be a human. Crack a joke, let people into your home, and acknowledge that though you’re not technically in the same place, you’re all in it together.” https://www.vogue.com/article/virtual-presentation-public-speaking-in-private-tips  

It is still important to prepare just as you would for a speech on stage.  Dazzling spontaneous speeches rarely happen in real life. Most good speeches have been written well before their delivery. Check all your tech – your sound and video, record yourself ahead of time so that you see how you will look to your audience.  Raise your computer, prepare your speech, check your background – if you have a green screen you can choose something appropriate.  If you don’t, be careful that you don’t get lost in your background as you give your presentation.  “It is important for you to have a clear mind, an organized speech that you can summarize to your audience before presenting and then referring back to that summary when delivering to keep people on track.” https://community.localmasters.com/presentation-skills-for-video-conferencing-zoom-meetings/

Presentation Tips

Click here for 7 presentation tips for speaking online:  https://gigirosenberg.com/blog/7-presentation-tips-for-speaking-online-in-a-virtual-world-1

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next speaking event.  If you need more help or to practice, check out a local Toastmasters club.  You will find that most of them are currently online and you can join in to a club anywhere in the world.  Most are quite happy to have guests and to help provide you with effective feedback on your speaking skills.  Check www.toastmasters.org for a club in your area.

Happy speaking

Fran Watson

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By Fran Watson

Involved in public speaking since 2000. Joined Toastmasters in 2002 and have served in all Executive roles including serving one year as the District Public Relations Officer. Achieved my DTM in 2014. Develop and facilitate workshops in the area of employment and career development.

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