Ep #94: Deliver Your Virtual Presentation with Confidence

by | Podcast

Every morning, Jim and I walk our dog, Timber, around our little country neighborhood. It’s something we started doing every single day during this lockdown period.

One recent morning, we were walking along, talking easily like we have hundreds of other times and I realized…right this minute, I am totally unaware that there's this wild virus running rampant in our world.

Unless I think about it, the virus is not in my life at this moment. Now, I’m fully aware that this is because I am not currently sick in bed with the virus. I’m walking in good health. And given that is my current momentary reality, the only way to bring this virus into my world is to think about it.

Stick with me…here’s what I mean:

My experience of this virus and everything that's changed in the world is all happening through thought.

Of course it is, right? Every single thing we experience comes through our thoughts. This is how we translate our experience.

This is where this story turns toward our business topic for today. ?

Every single sensation we feel in our bodies is translated through thought. We MAKE UP the words to explain our experience.

This is probably not news to you. You know about thoughts and how they impact our feelings. But here’s the important part of this—no particular thought is the actual truth. It’s just a sentence running through your mind. When you see that—I mean really see that—then you can take all kinds of action! Even action that feels “scary” or “uncertain.”

Confidence is a word we use to translate feelings in our body. It’s all made up, but it’s all we’ve got.

When you know that sensations in your body don’t mean anything about what you are capable of—what new thing you can try—you can try anything!

Virtual presenting brings up a lot of feelings in our bodies, especially if we are new to the experience. What I can tell you from experience is, you can feel intimately connected with your audience even while presenting virtually—especially when you really see what was supposed in the way of that connection before. (Hint: it’s not real!)

In this episode, I’ll be covering several aspects of virtual presenting—including many functional aspects like how to set up your virtual presentation space and plan your content.

But, you know me, we’ll be going much deeper than that…

The most important thing I want to help you with is rising above those fearful and anxious thoughts so you can deliver a confident virtual presentation with a feeling of complete freedom.

I promise you, you have all the confidence and charisma already in you. It's just living in the center of your heart and soul, ready to share on ALL the virtual speaking opportunities!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Navigating the mental and functional transition from live to virtual presentation
  • Where confidence comes from—and where it doesn’t come from
  • Know what you want to say—your ONE core message
  • The benefits of not having a script
  • How to intimately connect with your ideal audience member
  • Create an intentional virtual presentation space

Listen to the Full “Virtual Presentation” Episode

Featured On The Show:

PREVIOUS EPISODE | Ep #93: Drop Your Invisibility Cloak So You Can Thrive

NEXT EPISODE | Ep #95: Anti-Racism, Being an Ally and Doing Better


Full Episode “Virtual Presentation” Transcript:

As soon as we can see. It's really not that solid. Nothing is that static. There's so much room for the next version of whatever it is you want to try, including a virtual presentation. I'm gonna give you some practical brass tacks ways to set up your area and all of that, but the most important thing that I can help you see is that there is so much room in you and in the opportunity to speak virtually right now for you to feel freedom and connection with your audience.

Welcome to the Brilliance at Work Podcast where we shine a light on where great work, charisma and growing a thriving business you love really comes from, I'm Michelle Barry Franco. I've been a speaking and thought leadership coach for more than a decade from TEDx stages to world famous conferences, and I've helped some of the most beloved business leaders grow their businesses and serve in the biggest way possible through their business and through their thought leadership. I love that. I get to share the best of what I've learned with you here on the Brilliance at Work Podcast.

Hello, hello my brilliant friends. How's it going? I hope you won't be mad at me for this story, but I was thinking about you this morning as I was finishing my walk with Jim. I know that, depending on where you live, it might be really annoying to hear about the situation, but I want you to hear me out because I hope there's something in here for you too. I think there is.

So, this morning Jim and I were walking out, we walk at about seven o'clock each morning. We'd take our dog Timber and as we were finishing up our walk, we walk for about 40 minutes. I said, it's funny, these early morning walks, they feel like life is really normal. I usually don't even remember that we're on lockdown, that there's this wild virus running rampant in our world during these walks each morning.

That's when I realized as I was telling him this for like the zillionth time in my life, probably the zillionth time this week, my experience of this virus and everything that's changed in the world, it's all happening through thought. I mean, of course it is. Every single thing we experience comes through thought, right? Like, primarily sentences in our mind that describe to us what we're experiencing. But even when we translate sensations or fears or, you know, anything we would even call a body sensation. So, just stick with me on this for real.

My friends, we are way more free than we think we are. That was my realization this morning. I was thinking everything was okay as I was walking along and just chatting with Jim and enjoying it, it was a one of those crisp sunny mornings, Timber ambling along with us. Our little old dog is getting old and I was just thinking, Oh, this is so lovely.

We live in California, we live out in a really rural area. So, it's easy for us to get out and that's the part I thought might be kind of annoying, but wherever you are, we are, many of us are starting to go outdoors a little bit more. Right. And I just had this very clear realization that this whole thing that we're experiencing, the fear, the anxiety that I might get at times around it, it's because of what I'm thinking again, of course it is. But the truth is, the news is out there saying what it's saying, whether I'm looking at it or not and when I'm not looking at it, things can feel okay. Like, in my world, in our little life here. And I'm not saying that people aren't sick and there aren't people dying from this and there aren't political, just wild political things going on around this.

But, truly I can be okay, and really I am okay until the thoughts come through that tell me I'm not or we're not, or the world isn't. So, the news is out there or not for us to see and look at the latest numbers in your local area. I know we can look up our numbers all the time, the decisions we need to make about who can see who and is it okay for our teenagers to go on walks with friends and social distance? Where do we draw lines around that? I mean there's just so many conversations, so many things that I can get caught up in and so this is where my, where I'm going to make my clunky transition to this week's podcast topic because I actually do see the connection and it's part of why I thought of you this morning, because I'm super excited to talk with you about this.

We're actually going to talk about how to deliver a confident virtual presentation, which is very top of mind for so many of us, especially if you are in the thought leadership world, because everything is happening online now. Even if we were primarily meeting in small rooms or retreat rooms, workshop rooms, or on very large stages, we're doing this all virtually.

So I'm going to talk with you about how to deliver a confident virtual presentation, but we're going to lead into this by really tapping into where that place of freedom comes from, that place of confidence and ease. I was being interviewed this morning for a podcast and the host was asking me about confidence and about charisma. You know, one of my favorite topics is natural charisma and how we tap our own natural charisma. So, she was asking me questions just about what, you know, how do you get confidence and where does confidence, where do people get it, how come some people have it and some people don't?

Often this line of conversation leads to talking about stages. You know, like when people are getting on big stages, because I do TEDx coaching, what it's like for people who are about to get on a TEDx stage when it's been on their bucket list or, or these really big, you know, world-renowned conferences that some of my clients speak on and what it's like in the green rooms and standing in front of a room full of people, terrified of making a mistake or being too boring.

So, often that's really where the conversation will go when I'm being interviewed. But right now we are hardly thinking about IRL – in real life stages at all. It's like it doesn't even come up. Isn't that fascinating? I mean, every once in a while there's a little nod to it. Like, yeah, wow. It must be really, you know, things really must've changed for some of your speaking clients and we have a quick conversation about, yeah, they really have a lot of them.

You know, their whole schedule has changed, but it's as though life stages like conferences and places where we all used to gather and, speakers would get on those stages. It's like they've fallen off the face of the earth and in just a matter of days and weeks anyway. They haven't, they haven't. Right. They'll be back and we will be gathering again. It probably will look different. We'll have a different process of thinking through the choices, and I don't know when all of that will be, but meantime, our home office is our living rooms, kitchens for some people, makeshift video studios in the garage. There's all these amazing ways that we're making it work. These are our new stages and our audience is coming to us often through our imagination, through a camera lens and depending on how large that audience is and the platform where you're doing that presentation, you may or may not see any other faces at all. For many speakers, they thrive on the audience's energy, and really that's where they get a lot of their best, their best material, their best contribution.

Sometimes show up in the moment when they're there with a live audience, and certainly their dynamic expression feels like it's dependent on that live audience, but that's not true. That too is coming to us through the avenue of thought. Of course, we've created some sentences that run through our brain that say, I need a live audience in order to tap my charisma. I feed off of the audience's energy and this isn't me telling you that your experience is inaccurate. This isn't me saying, well, you shouldn't be feeling any different when you're doing a virtual presentation, not at all. Whatever you're experiencing is what you're experiencing. There's nothing to process about that or resist about it. I don't need you to go rework your thoughts or any of that. It's just seeing that sometimes we just, we try, we have an experience and then we habitually translate that experience into something that seems more solid, right?

We suddenly define it. We conceptualize it like, Oh, I'm a person who needs to be in a live room, and it's not true. Maybe there. Yes, so you have a different experience when you're in front of a live audience than you have, at least recently, when you've been doing a virtual presentation; but I can tell you for myself that that has evolved tremendously. Even as I sit here in my home office recording this podcast for you, I can tell you, I feel you there. I am feeding off of the energy of my audience and that did not use to happen. And certainly once upon a time I would have said, I don't know what to say. It all feels so sort of robotic or I feel like it doesn't flow the same when I don't have real people there and that's just not true anymore.

And that's not true for me about video either. And yes, some of that is practice, some of that is just the experience of offering up these ways of serving and hearing back from people that was really helpful. But do you see how all of that is still a translation? It's still made up, and I know between last week's episode about the invisibility cloak and then what I'm saying now, you're really hearing me say that most things are made up and it's because it's true. It's because we have so much meaning and static meaning we're like – this is how it is. And as soon as we can see that, it's really not that solid. It's – nothing is that static. There's so much room for the next version of whatever it is you want to try, including virtual presentations. So this is my, we are going to talk, I'm going to give you some practical brass tacks ways to set up your area and all of that.

But, the most important thing that I can help you see is that there is so much room in you and in the opportunity to speak virtually right now for you to feel freedom and connection with your audience. So, we're talking today about where confidence is when you are presenting, when you're doing virtual presentations, where confidence and that natural charisma comes from. Big hint. I've already been talking about that mostly, but we'll talk a tiny bit more about that, where the confidence and charisma comes from. For this kind of presenting, we're going to talk about intimate connection with your audience because that is where the magic is. And then, of course, I'm going to talk with you about how to prepare. What are some things you can do to actually get ready before you're going to present significantly, before you're going to present, so that you feel really good about what you're going to say.

By the way, these are all best practices also for live presentations, but there are also some nuances that you want to consider for virtual presentations. And then the last thing I'm going to touch on is intentionality about the space you're in. So, we'll talk a little bit about backgrounds and lighting and that kind of thing. Okay, so that's your high level overview. Now we've already talked some, a lot really, about where confidence comes from. And the final thing I think I want to say about that is the whole world is continually pointing to lack of confidence to imposter syndrome, to the barriers to you expressing yourself with freedom. They're all pointing there and saying, here's what you need to do. You need to work this, you need to let go of this. You need to examine your beliefs and you can spend a whole lot of time digging around in the garage.

When you've got a beautiful, you've got this beautiful, this is exactly what I was talking about today in the podcast. Put this beautiful living room right through the next door with sunshine streaming in and spaciousness and a whole lot of people ready to hear what you have to say. Just get out of the garage. You don't have to clean the garage in order to be in the living room. Sharing the light with all of your beautiful audience. I hope that analogy is translating. The garage is where all those thoughts are and yeah, maybe eventually you're going to do some stuff in the garage. I'm not saying you never want to work through beliefs or whatever. This is more about looking in that place of freedom and spaciousness because it is always there. That's where your charisma lives. That's where your confidence lives.

Keep looking there. Look to that call within you that knows you're meant to serve. Now, the beautiful thing in that living room is that you've got this room full of people who are just waiting. They're waiting to hear what you have to say. They have gathered to listen to you in this virtual living room because you've made a promise to them. In the title and description of your virtual presentation, you have said, I'm going to share this thing that you really want with you and here's how it's going to look and feel. You know, if you've done your description well, that's what it does. It says, I see you, I get you. I know what you want. I'm going to help in this virtual presentation and they're there waiting. So the second thing I want you to really focus in on is that intimate connection with the people you're serving.

The reason that it feels so good to me to do these podcasts, to do these podcast episodes and to create the videos and all the course curriculum, I create online webinars is because I can feel you there. And I have done, I've, I've had the gift of talking with so many people who are called to serve with their message and their stories and their lessons learned. And because I have that and I regularly swirl my heart and my mind in those struggles and the things that you're really grappling with, then I feel like when I'm here presenting with you, whether it's just audio or I've got presentation slides and I've done a whole backdrop and all of that, I feel like I'm serving. And then whether I do it perfectly, whether everything about my environment is perfect, whether there's a typo on one of my slides, it just doesn't matter as much.

It just doesn't matter as much because my heart is connected to your heart and that's what you want. Be so intimately connected with your ideal audience member, with the people you know you're meant to serve, that your heart feels connected to theirs and in some ways the camera, whatever's translating the microphone, whatever's translating your presentation just becomes a gift. It's a gift of an avenue for connection and so much worry falls away. So many of those thinky thoughts fall away when you stay connected in that way. So, those are the two baseline, really powerful things. Know where your confidence comes from. It's living there right now, intimate connection with your ideal audience member. And then the third thing is know what you want to say. So I have had so many, I have so many brilliant, brilliant people that I get to work with and one of the reasons that they work with me is not because they aren't, they aren't good communicators, they're usually great communicators, but they want to know what they're capable of and they're used to winging it and having winging it be good enough, right?

Pretty good. But they know that if they just had some support, a partner in thinking, someone who knows how to sort of hone their message and refine their speaking alongside them, that they can have an even bigger impact and really enjoy the experience so much more. And so I want that for you too. I bet you could say a bunch of stuff that would be really useful and helpful, but even better, even more impactful. And also really centering for you is knowing the one message, the one core message at the center of this presentation, your big idea, what I call your juicy core message and this is even if you're going to do a five minute YouTube video or three minute YouTube video, what is that message at the center? And one of the ways that I recommend at least as a starting place with clients, we always start with this kind of formula and again, we rework the wording on this, but these are the elements.

If you want, then you must, and this is you taking a stand at the center of this piece of communication at the center of this presentation. So, it might be if you want to feel vibrant and focus throughout your day, then you must get a better night's sleep. That could be at the center. Know the one thing that you're saying and don't say a bunch of other tangential things. The hard thing, when you're brilliant and you have expertise and a lot of stories, it should be like, Oh wait, let me tell you one more thing. Oh. Then there's this other thing about nutrition and then also, by the way, you should definitely have celery juice in the morning. All of that's really brilliant. And do another presentation about that or broaden the one main thing that's at the center of your, you know, it depends on how much time you have.

If you have enough time to cover a larger amount, you might say if you want vibrant energy and focus throughout your day, then you've got to set yourself up right starting the night before. And that could include the way you put yourself to bed, the amount of sleep you get and preparing your celery and other things for your special juice concoction. So I'm not saying you can't cover more than just one tiny thing. It depends on how long, how much time you have for this presentation, no matter how big it is. You want one central idea, one juicy core message if you want, venue must, and then you can play with the words. And really what's at the heart of this is if you want, and this is the what they're wanting. What is their desired outcome? What's the reward for what you are going to tell them they should do?

And then what is the stand you’re taking? What's your stand about how they get there, right? This is you proposing your point of view. If you want, then you must, okay, so one central idea and then jot down at least two or three things. Again, depending on how long they are, main points that you're going to cover. Now, sometimes when I'm doing a quick video, all I do is jot down that core message, the juicy core message. I jot down like three words, slugs, phrases that represent my main points and then I use those to speak from – you always want a story. So, you definitely want a story in there. You know the magic mix of content and we have a podcast about that. So we'll put that in the show notes. You want a good mix of content, especially if you've got a longer presentation, but story is so compelling, so make sure there's at least one story in there so you have that.

You know what you're going to say and you're able to expand on it. With these main points. They all refer back to that one juicy core message. Don't try to write a script. When you write a script and then you either read it or you memorize it, which is basically reading it from your brain. It doesn't flow. Now there is an exception to this cause you might be thinking this, when I work with a TEDx speaker, it is common, but not always, that they will memorize and then practice their script until that lives in them, like lives in them. So the hard part is most presentations, the vast majority, we're not going to practice enough for you to go pass that. There's this peak of practicing where it's like you know it but you're still grasping for it in your brain. If you practice enough, you'll come over to the other side where it lives in you and flows out.

But that takes some talking. Lots and lots of practice. That's not what you're going to do for most things. So don't script it. Map out what you're going to say. If you need to talk it through three, four times. I often do that. I'll go for a walk and talk through what I think I want to say. I might jot down a couple other notes on that sticky note or that one sheet of paper. And then use that as your guide because you're an expert. You know this. Those are your lessons learned. This is your expertise. These are your stories. So just those little slugs will remind you. Okay? So that's the third thing is know what you're going to say without scripting it. And then the fourth thing that will help you feel a lot more confident in your presentations is if you create a space that feels really good to you.

And it also looks good on video. So what I'm thinking about this is I'm thinking definitely about what a visual presentation, not just an audio presentation, but the reason I say this will make you feel more confident. First of all, we talked about where confidence really comes from, right? So there's no external thing that actually makes you more confident, but a lot of the thinking falls away when you've set yourself up, right? It just naturally does. You're not like, why didn't I fix the background? Now I'm looking at this video. I just spent all this time recording it and I didn't notice that I have a stack of laundry behind me. Right? So, you want to think about these things ahead of time so you're excited to share this video, to have everybody seeing it. You're excited to be in that space while you're presenting.

So that a few things to be thinking about your backdrop, what's behind you. I've seen so many people presenting on zoom calls and doing webinars and I've been surprised at times at what's in the background and it's clear they just haven't realized it. They just hadn't kind of taken a look. So take a look in your video to see what's behind you and angle, do whatever you need. Do angle your computer or your cameras such that all the messy stuff isn't showing or clear all the messy stuff out of the way. You don't have to go clean the entire house, just the area that's showing, or your entire office. So what's behind you? What's to the sides of you so that you can be gesturing. How can you stand? So definitely standing because you will, you will speak more, you'll bring more groundedness and sort of a fullness to your speaking when you stand and you'll also gesture in a way that's more engaging if you stand, but you don't want to be banging things off shelves that are right next to you.

So just some things to think about if you don't have an adjustable standing desk or a standing desk period, which I didn't have for years and years. I'm telling you I have rigged standing desks and I can't tell you how many hotel rooms as I've done different presentations while I've been on the road. But a trash can on top of your desk often works. I've done that in a lot of hotel rooms, the trashcan and then a book or something that just kind of makes it flat and put your computer on there. And of course you can bring a tripod and that'll be helpful if you use a web cam, a separate web cam or you use your phone for recording. So, something so that, but I have stacked 12 books on a shelf, on a side table, just stack the books, stack the boxes, whatever.

Make sure it's not going to fall in the middle of your presentation so it's nice and solid. But if you can stand, you will gesture in a way that's more engaging and your voice will be even more powerful. You'll have that presence about you. The other two things to think about are audio and lighting. So lighting, again, a ring light, they're so easy to get. Now, many, many people have them. You probably have one, but if you don't, you can get one for very inexpensive and you can get even a small one that clamps right behind your computer so you can get one of those clamping lights. I have one that's on a stand that works beautifully and it's adjustable so I can make it warmer and cooler and brighter and not so bright. And so I said lighting. Oh, but before I had that or if you don't have that and you want to do a video today cause you're so inspired, do what I did for the first, I don't know how many years, I just took all the lamps I could find and I circled my desk behind my computer camera with, with those lamps and I still often will bring lamps to the side and still use my ring light if I want to balance out the lighting.

So, so just think about those things ahead of time. It's not difficult. You do not need fancy equipment. And, the last thing I'll say is audio. Audio brings you closer to your people and again, it's that heart connection that you're looking for. So, if you have, I often will just use my Apple airpods, ear buds, whatever. So I'll use my wireless ones. If you don't have that, use the one that plugs into your computer, but just know you're going to be a little bit tethered to the computer. That way you know you can't move back too far. So, you can also get headphones with a longer cord. If you want to stick with the plugin kind or any of the wireless ones. Of course you can get a microphone that plugs into your computer and use that like I'm using now.

So just think about the audio. If you have to use the microphone that's inside your computer, it's not ideal, but it'll work. I did it for years. Just make sure you're talking loud enough. When you talk louder, it will pick it up better. And again, it's all about creating that sense of connection with your audience. And when you love what you've created in this presentation, you're more inclined to be excited to share it. Okay, so you can do this. I promise you, you have all the confidence and charisma already in you. It's just living there right there in that sunlit living room of the center of your heart and soul ready to share. Yes, you have a garage or an attic or however you like to think about your thinking, thought place. Just that's not where you need to look. Look at the call that you feel to serve because that's why you're here.

I know that's why you're here, so you have the confidence, you have the charisma all living in you. Now you just want to create that intimate connection with your virtual presentation audience and you can do that really with these practical things we've talked about, knowing what you want to say so you're speaking straight to what they care about and then creating intentional space so you feel good in it and it looks great when you have this visual, this video version of your presentation, and then share it far and wide, my beautiful friend because that is what you’re meant to do. You can still do this now. Actually, it's more accessible than ever to be out there sharing your message and your voice and that is where you belong, because my friend, you were made for this and I know that because you know that I already cannot wait to be with you here next week. Take good care.

Thank you so much for being here with me on the Brilliance at Work Podcast. If you want to know how to tap your own most natural charisma as a business owner, leader, and speaker, you can download a free copy of my book, Beyond Applause, make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking. This includes a free short course that helps you get crystal clear on the message at the heart of your work. You can get a free copy of this book and that short course at brillianceatwork.com/freebook. I hope you'll love it.

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