Presenting in a Remote World – How to Use Your Voice and Body (Webinar Preview)

Presentation expert Nolan Haims talks about how to use your voice and body in remote presentations in order to create more engagement and energy during Zoom meetings and online presentations.

Register for the full webinar here – Presenting in a Remote World


Let’s talk a little bit about physicality, as I stretch a little. I’ve been sitting for a while. Let’s talk about our bodies. I know that sounded weird. Let’s talk about our voice. We need to enunciate and modulate and replace those nonverbal cues. We no longer have the head nod, the eyebrow raise. It doesn’t work anymore. And so, we have to be like a radio talk show host, in a sense. We have to really explore our voice and get as expressive with it as we can. We have to play with tone and loudness and softness. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be using our hands, but we’ve got to be doing a lot more with our voice. Think back to high school drama and everything we said about that.

We need to be really careful of pauses. Like I mentioned before, we can’t just take a pause and… If we were in a room that would be fine, to make a dramatic point, but we got to be really careful. So if you’re going to take a drink of water, say, “I’m going to take a drink of water,” so people don’t think their sound just went out.

All right, this might be a little controversial, but it is something we’re seeing a lot, “upspeak”. I’m sure a lot of you know what that is. That’s where at the end of sentences you tend to go up at the end. And always, whenever you’re saying, whatever you’re talking about, if you go up at the end it sounds like you’re asking a question rather than making a statement. I know there have been various studies about younger people in office environments tend to talk up, even some genders tend to talk up at the end, and it comes off as not confident. You don’t want to say, “And I think this is the strategy we should pursue in Q3.” Yeah, no.

So just be careful, because we are seeing more of it online now because we don’t have that feedback loop. So people are like, “And this is what I think we should do. Is anybody out there? Are you listening to me? I don’t know. I assume you’re all still there. Marcus hasn’t told me our feed has been cut.” So just be aware of it. And you just want to drive through to the end of your sentences and just really put a mark, a real foot on the end of every sentence.

Okay. What is our body doing? Sit forward if you can, to prevent that lethargy and that vocal compression that tends to happen as we’re in our chair all day long. And I’m guilty of this too. As you slump down, which is just natural to do, it compresses our main instrument, our vocal instrument. And it leads to a guttural and it’s bad for your voice and your throat, and it’s annoying to listen to and it’s real low energy. Stay up. Try to keep up, and remind yourself every once in a while, “Sit forward.”

If you want to stand, if you’re a standing person, fantastic. Go for it, if you’re presenting and you’ve got a standing desk. I’ve never been a standing desk kind of guy, but if it works for you, great. Just be careful. I was on a webinar the other day and the guy had a standing desk. It was great, he spoke a lot. But if you’re up on a stage standing, you tend to walk around. You can’t really do that. And so this guy, he was swaying back and forth, just feeling the need to like… And I was getting nauseous. So just be careful.

We want to use our voice as much as possible, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use our hands, even if the audience can’t see them. Depending where your camera is, you’ll see my hands occasionally sort of dip into the camera. So just use them. Even if people can’t see it, it’s kind of like that old thing of, what is it, like “People can’t see you smile on a phone call, but they can hear you,” or something like that. They always tell salespeople, “Pick up the phone with a smile.” It’s the same thing. Even if you can’t see my hands, use them, because we want to be engaged that way.

We’re hearing obviously a lot about Zoom fatigue. And I always get the question, “How do I avoid Zoom fatigue?” All right, so there are a few things. Basically, fewer and shorter. You know who I’m talking to now, right? Fewer meetings and shorter meetings. A friend of mine did a very big study a couple of months ago out of The Goodman Center in California on this, on remote communication. I think it was actually the title of the study; I think it was called “Fewer and Shorter”. That was the takeaway, fewer meetings, shorter meetings. You can’t have six hour-long Zoom calls a day. It doesn’t work.

Set that agenda, we talked about it, so people know, “Okay, I’m halfway through.” “All right, we’re only going to cover three topics,” just so they’re not like…it’s like endless, it just never, never ends. You know now I’m in my third of four topics here, and we’ll be on our fourth one pretty quickly. And remember that awesome thing we used to like called the telephone? Or hate. Now we like it because we never use it anymore. You don’t have to always have a Zoom call. Pick up the phone. Every once in a while, a client these days will send me a good old-fashioned conference call invite instead of a Zoom or a Google Meet thing, and I am so thankful. I’m like, “Oh, great.” I can put on my headset and walk around, or I just don’t have to worry that I’m still in my pajamas or whatever. So yeah, sometimes just going back to the old phone just helps break things up. If your team is always like, Zoom meeting, Zoom, Teams meeting, Teams, just do a phone call. Mix it up.

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