The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sudden shift to remote work for a significant portion of the workforce, with some employees continuing to work from home in the post-pandemic world. In fact, recent data from April 2023 notes that 12% of U.S. employees work fully remotely, and 28% have hybrid work situations, according to The New York Times.
Even with this shift to online work, communication skills remain essential. If anything, professionals must understand how to communicate through several channels — in person and online. Professionals use communication skills in leadership and upward messaging, presentations, meetings, customer and client relations, informal interactions, and more.
Even if people speak and present virtually, public speaking can still cause anxiety. Learning to adjust and speak from the comfort of your home office or living room can make your virtual meetings productive and successful.
Modifying your speaking style, background, and lighting can keep a presentation or meeting professional. Combining practical, real-world experiences and theoretical knowledge while earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication online from the College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV) can help you prepare vital communication skills for a broad range of professional roles. In particular, the Public Speaking course in CMSV’s online program provides students with the expertise to present with ease to a variety of audiences.
Tips to Make a First-Rate Presentation
Content, speaking style, preparation, background, lighting, attire, and interaction are all factors of a top-notch presentation. Here are some tips to improve your public speaking during a virtual event:
- Prepare your presentation in advance to keep on track and ensure the entire experience runs smoothly. Practice your speech multiple times in front of trusted friends or family members, if possible. When you put in deliberate practice and preparation, viewers will notice. Imagine possible questions that can arise from the topic you’re presenting and prepare answers. Avoid being caught off guard.
- Remember that less is more. Don’t rely on wordy PowerPoint slides to deliver your message for you. Great presenters keep their slides light on content. Reduce visual clutter and focus on a few slides that include images with text. Audiences are more likely to remember information associated with an image than a bullet point alone.
- Practice vocal delivery. Speakers with monotone voices tend to bore their audience. When you vary the pitch, speed, and dynamic level of your voice, you can be a more effective speaker and come off as knowledgeable and confident.
- Focus on the details. Seemingly minor details, such as your video background and lighting, can positively impact the virtual meeting. Settings with natural light, rather than overhead artificial sources, are ideal. A ring light can warm up your features and make your presentation inviting.
If you choose to use a background in your home office or living room, be sure to organize the area. If you’d rather not show the audience your home, opt for a virtual background that fits your presentation. The outward-facing nature of roles like business development and sales often calls for using branded or pre-approved backgrounds.
- Dress for success. As cheesy as it sounds, ditching the pajamas and bathrobe for appropriate work attire can change your attitude and help you feel more confident and motivated while you present.
- Engage your audience. Beginning a presentation with a surprising statistic, a joke, a quote, or a question can captivate the audience from the start. You can choose interesting visual aids, tell a story, or even use a prop to attract and engage the audience.
Consider encouraging your audience to ask questions through the chat option. Let them know you’ll be answering all questions when you’re finished speaking, if it helps you stay focused or if you have a strict time limit. If you’re comfortable taking questions on the fly, let the audience know. Stating your preference at the start is a way to set the tone for what follows.
Earn Skills and Job Opportunities With a BA in Communication
Clear and effective presentations can help you appeal to potential investors, boost your standing in the workplace, or take advantage of career advancement opportunities. In fact, graduates of CMSV’s program can pursue a number of roles related to communication, public relations, marketing, advertising, and more. These roles include social media specialist, public relations manager, brand strategist, editor, event planner, sales representative, and fundraising consultant.
A degree in communication can equip you with crucial skills to develop and deliver messages clearly and effectively to various audiences.
Learn more about CMSV’s online BA in Communication program.