May & June access restricted

The University of Pittsburgh Law Building is currently undergoing major renovations. Access to the building and law library is restricted until July. Please email plas@pitt.edu or call (412) 648-1490 if you need assistance.

Virtual Presentations: Best Practices

3 Traits of Great Virtual Presentations: Conversational, Colorful and Cheerful 

Key Mistakes to AVOID:

  • Treating online presentations the same as live presentations
  • Not engaging the audience during a live presentation
  • Not making any physical adjustments: Remember physical considerations such as your background, what you are wearing (ex: solid colors tend to work better on video); where you are seated or standing, etc.
  • Too much text on too few slides (if you are using a Powerpoint to accompany your video--each slide should be engaging and have limited text 
  • Not providing helpful information or practical takeaways
  • Dating your information with references that make its application limited (ex: advice that specifically references the pandemic)

Consider Your Environment 

  • How you look to your virtual audience – your appearance (smile – show friendliness and approachability), your attire (business professional/casual, space, etc.)  
  • Practice good virtual presentation posture: straight back (about a fist-length away from the chair), leaning forward slightly, computer camera is at eye level
  • Look directly at the camera in order to maintain the same “eye contact” you would use in person. There is no need to look away, direct eye contact is not odd in a virtual presentation
  • Whatever is closest to the camera will appear larger (e.g., consider what is around you on camera)
  • Hands free is critical – you should not be typing or using your phone while virtually presenting
  • Proper lighting makes all the difference. Position a lamp behind and to right of your monitor/lap top. If you are backlit by a window, you may not be visible to the viewer
  • Record your video in a quiet area and have an organized, professional background : declutter, avoid distractions and curate background
  • Amplify your voice (low, loud, slow and & clear voice) and make your voice more resonant. Speak as if your audience is in the room with you
  • Manage audience attention with “pattern interrupts” (Q&A mid-presentation, engage with interrogatives and imperatives)
  • Avoid “junk/filler words” like “ah,” “oh,” “um,” and “like” – use a silent pause instead to transition

Keys to Good Slides 

  • Less is more: 4x4 Principle: Four bullets per slide and four words per bullet
  • Highlight what is important
  • More slides mean shorter exposure
  • Think visually – pictures are BETTER than words alone
  • Strive for visual variety (slide variety: bullets, charts, pictures)
  • Use headlines, not headings. Clearly spell out recommendations, results, and takeaways

Make Sure Your Message is Clear 

  • Rehearse your presentation so you do not need to look at your notes often and instead can make constant eye contact with the camera (and to ensure you are comfortable with the technology platform)
  • If necessary, you can position a large box behind your computer with a horizontal outline of your notes taped to the box so that if you need to glance at them you are maintaining eye contact with the camera and not looking down at the desk
  • What one thing do you want your audience to do, think, or feel?
  • Why? What’s in it for them? Why should they care?