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Ms Teams, Zoom And Other Platforms Have Evolved In Recent Months – Have Your Online Presentation Skills Kept Pace?

April 14, 2021

If you’re a regular presenter, you would have probably spent the past year of COVID-19 cursing the limitations of video conferencing programmes when it comes to elegantly delivering presentations to a remote audience.


The good news is that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Over the past few months, there have been some significant additions and improvements to programmes such as Microsoft (MS) Teams and Zoom, which should make life easier for you as a “power” presenter, and a lot more interesting and engaging for your audience.


Here are three new MS Teams and Zoom features that the Aprio Credence team has stress-tested in our online media training and remotely delivered crisis leadership sessions, and which we believe should feature in every power presenter’s arsenal:


1. You now have the option of PowerPoint presenter view in MS Teams which means you can see your notes, the next slides, and any participant chat in real time as you are presenting. This latter feature is a major plus. One of our biggest frustrations with MS Teams is that as soon as you share a PowerPoint presentation, you lose the ability to see the conversation/chat/feedback from participants (unless you use a second device or monitor).


This new feature also allows the presenter to temporarily hand control of the PowerPoint deck over to a colleague, for example, so that she/he can advance the slides that they are speaking to without having to ask you to “move to the next slide, please”.


There are a couple of significant cautionaries. The feature only works when opening a PowerPoint deck directly from the share tray rather than the desktop or windows apps, and you are essentially working with a PowerPoint “lite” version – so you can’t show video embedded in your presentation, it takes ages to load up a big file, and your audience can review all the slides in your deck before you’ve gotten past the first slide, if you forget to disable this feature. But if you are presenting a relatively small slide deck without any embedded multimedia or complex transitions/animations, we would strongly recommend you try out this new feature.


2. Zoom and MS Teams now offer participant polling to enhance audience feedback and participation

You can now set up polling questions before or during your presentation in both Zoom and MS Teams, to get real-time feedback from the attendees on a series of multiple-choice type questions that can be launched at any point in the session. You have the option of making the feedback anonymous; you can also choose not to share feedback with participants.


3. Zoom and MS Teams now offer ‘breakout’ rooms for small team sessions within a larger team meeting or presentation

In MS Teams, you can have up to 50 breakout rooms, allocate people to the rooms either automatically or manually, and reallocate breakout rooms if people arrive late to the session or you want to mix up the groups in the breakout rooms. As the organiser, you can also visit different breakout rooms to engage with the participants and call everyone back to the main meeting when you feel it is time to reconvene.


It’s important to remember though, that the organiser of meeting is the only person who can control the breakout sessions and has to be present for the duration of the session to manage the breakout room feature.


“You’re on mute!”


In closing, remember those ‘old faithful’ keyboard shortcuts – you can press and hold your ‘spacebar’ to temporarily unmute yourself and avoid the “Bruce, you’re on mute!” calls of your colleagues as you scramble for the unmute button that always seems to move on your screen. And you can hit F5 in PowerPoint to go directly and quickly into full-screen slide show mode.


Aprio Credence delivers client master class programmes for effective video-conferencing sessions and PowerPoint presentations in MS Teams and Zoom. We have delivered more than 100 on-line media training and crisis leadership multimedia sessions since lockdown, using five different video-conferencing programmes, depending on our client’s requirements. Whether it is the best lighting and background solutions or optimising the presentation of multimedia content, we’ve learnt some valuable lessons in remote presenting over the past 12 months. We would love to share these with you to make your remote presentations more effective.

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