Speaking to a Virtual Audience

One of the goals of a speaker is to engage their audience.  But what if your audience is behind a screen?  Can you engage a virtual audience?  The answer is a firm YES!

In a live audience, distractions occur, but perhaps different ones than speaking virtually. In our new normal of speaking online to people, many distractions can come into play such as kids running in the background, the coffee maker brewing or the doorbell ringing. As trained speakers, we can either ignore the distraction and hope that no one noticed or make a joke out of it. For example, if you are Roger Caesar and your doorbell rang, you could say, “That was my doorbell ringing, my new shoes must have arrived!” For those that do not know Roger well, you can probably guess that he has a fondness for unique and shiny shoes. We can thank Table Topics for preparing us for impromptu ways of addressing distractions!

Studies show that your words account for only 7% of your message. The remaining 93% is non-verbal. As speakers, when we are on a stage, we use eye contact to connect with our audience. When speaking to a screen, it is imperative to use the same rules as television…look at the camera, not the surroundings. Many of us tend to look at ourselves on the screen. While that seems most natural for the speaker, the audience will not be looking in your eyes directly.

Be also aware of your background and lighting. Be wary if the sun shining right on your face during a presentation as it is a distraction to the viewer. Be sure to test your technology first to ensure any mishaps during your presentation. The audience notices the speaker's attire so looking your best during all sessions is important (not just from the waist up!)

If you deliver your message from the heart, your audience will remember it. Sending positive energy to your audiences helps to connect with the audience.

Jim Rohn says, "Effective communication is 20% of what you know and 80% of how you feel about what you know."  Your confidence will be evident when you can effectively address distractions, focus on your body language, and utilize eye contact effectively. Happy presenting to your virtual audience!

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Photo credits: Unsplash

Blog Author: Gaby Mammone
Gaby is an award-winning business executive recognized as an advocacy leader in the charitable and not-for-profit sectors. She writes blogs for many publications in the topics of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. As the founder of the kindness movement, #BeAwareBeKind Gaby is on a mission to cultivate kindness globally. Gaby is the Past President at City Centre Toastmasters, and current Treasurer of Club 6288.

Gaby can be reached at:

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