Presenting at an Online Conference Part 2: Preparing for your Oral Presentation

Yesterday, we started our series by Scott Pilkington on presenting at an online conference. You can find Part 1 (about choosing a presentation format) here.

Regardless of whether your oral presentation is pre-recorded or presented live, you need to take note of the specifications of the conference organisers, especially for visual aids. There may be limits on the use of logos, the number of slides, aspect ratio to be used, length, bit rate, resolution, file format, and file size. Check through the specifications listed and design your presentation with these in mind. Some conference organisers may ask for your materials in advance, and could send them back, and/or ask you to update your submission.

When presenting, don’t be afraid to use your mouse or pointing tool to focus attention on things you’re talking about. You can’t walk over to your presentation or use a laser pointer, but you can use your mouse to add effect. When you present online, the audience misses out on a lot of information. They get less of your body language and gestures particularly, so will struggle to maintain attention the same way as they would in person. Using animations in PowerPoint can be a great way to reveal points as you are ready to discuss them, but like when you present in person, use them sparingly – you don’t want the audience sitting there bored while your animations run amok on the screen, nor for them to end up with motion sickness!

Decide whether the video of you speaking should appear alongside your video or be embedded in it. You can appear inside a box (default for Zoom, Teams, and most other platforms), or inside your presentation by sharing your slides as a virtual background (in testing in Zoom).

Just don’t be a talking head with no visuals for long periods of time. Also check when you create your slides whether the video of your face will obscure part of them. If you are covering up part of the slide, you’ll need to allow for that in your design. If you’re presenting with dual monitors, make sure that your notes, slides, or the audience (whatever you’re going to face when presenting) is on that monitor, focused near the camera. That way you’ll be facing your audience.

Check out my video with some tips on how to prepare for your online conference presentation.

Come back tomorrow for advice on how to avoid technical difficulties in your presentation!

About Scott Pilkington

Scott is a Postgraduate Coordinator and Health, Safety & Wellbeing rep at the Graduate Research School. His hobbies include museums, campanology, history, anthropology, cats, dance, fibre crafts, science communication, and gin. He’s a graduate of University of Auckland, University of Otago, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and of course AUT. His current research projects include how we use museums to communicate science, and the form and function of doctoral academic dress at New Zealand universities. Past research includes the Albert Park tunnels, taphonomy of burnt human skeletal remains, and the sex-politics-law dynamics of 13th C England. He is weirdly passionate about palaeoecology and urban spaces. He uses the pronouns he/him. You can often see him at GRS events being our resident photographer.

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