The bumper sticker was something like “Spontenaity Happens.” It’s like a life maxim… it’s part of our human experience.
When we present face-to-face, this is true whether we want it to be or not. Presenting virtually, however, means that we don’t see that thing that happens in the audience that we comment on. We don’t see the meek hand that starts to raise but then goes back down. We don’t see that we’re on a winning streak and decide to run with it.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t be spontaneous when presenting virtually, however.
We respond best on-the-fly when we’re comfortable, and a simple fact is that most online presenters are dealing with something new. And they’re focused on the task at hand…getting through their slides.
The solution is simple: plan to be spontaneous.
The experience will come, but in the beginning an easy thing to do is to plan in advance where you’ll ask an “ad hoc” question. It might be a question that helps you set up the next section of your presentation, it might be one that simply gets your audience engaged in some way. For example, if you just concluded a story about your trip to Spain, ask a question like, “Hey, have you been to Spain? Go to the Q&A pane and tell me yes or no, or maybe tell me the name of most interesting place you’ve been.”
All planned. Not critical to the success of the presentation from a content perspective (it doesn’t make a difference if they’ve been to Spain or New Zealand). But it IS critical to connecting your virtual to you as a real person. They participate…and active listeners will hear your message better than passive listeners.
Beat the newbie blahs. Plan your spontenaity.