This coming May, EVCOM are really excited to be partnering with Sonia Beldom, to offer coaching around virtual presenting skills. The session will be made up of a 2-hour online workshop, followed by a one-to-one 45 minute coaching session, to help attendees build their camera confidence and presentation skills, and develop their personal communication styles. You can book your place on the training course here. Ahead of the session, we spoke to Sonia Beldom, one of the UK’s most in-demand presentation coaches, about the world of virtual presenting and the skills it requires.
Sonia, why are virtual presenting skills so important?
While so many of us are working from home and having virtual meetings, it’s more important than ever to hone your presenting and communication skills so that you can still make an impact and project confidence from the smallest phone screen to the biggest screens in a conference setting.
And whereas before our body language and physical presence could play a part, now we’re usually seen in head and shoulder shots and we’re often pretty static. By using different skills such as voice projection, clever story-telling, body movement, different language patterns and creating a great onscreen environment, presenting skills help to make us stand out to create a great impression when the cameras are on and a lasting impression once they’ve been switched off.
We speak virtually not just to team members, but to clients as well. Do you think clients expect more of a certain skill level/ professionalism in the virtual sphere now?
Yes, most definitely. We can all scrutinise other people in close-up from the comfort of our own environment, so it’s essential that from the moment your camera goes on, we project a professional, friendly and confident personality. Background and setting is also very important as clients still need to feel that they are in a highly professional environment, even when it’s clear that some of us are working from our spare rooms, the local coffee shop or garden studio. First impressions continue to be one of the most important aspects of presenting and if you look as if you care as much about your environment as you do about your clients, they will feel respected and important. Many of my clients say that it’s even easier to switch off when in the virtual world, so you need the skills to build rapport, trust and engagement to portray a professional image and value.
Do you have any examples of times when good or bad virtual presenting skills have been the key to the success of a meeting or pitch?
ZOOM fail story:
A client came to me for coaching in online meetings and interviews. They had six interviews and had never got to the final selection for jobs they were highly qualified to do. Without having met my client I suggested that she and I had our first meeting online and in the same environment that she usually used. From the second her camera went on it was a disaster for these reasons:
- She spent the first 5 or 6 seconds scanning the screen for the “on” button, flapping around with “oh dear, where’s the camera?” etc.
- She was in her bedroom, behind her was a bed piled high with clothes, a couple of old mugs and a half-eaten piece of toast
- When I asked her questions, she held up a piece of paper with all her notes on, obscuring the camera and with obvious nerves as the paper was shaking
- She didn’t look into the camera once and kept darting off to another device
- Her dog was in the room and kept wandering around behind her, thus distracting attention
- Just when I was about to say “Right, let’s start again “ her dog passed wind and she knocked over a glass of water!
This was all in the first 10 seconds of the chat. Nobody would have hired her. We worked together for a couple of 2-hour sessions and she got a promotion in her own company and was subsequently head-hunted for a higher position by a company client.
ZOOM success story:
I work a lot with schools to give pupils the interview skills they will need for university and the workplace. In one school we had 18 pupils, but not one of them had their camera or microphone on. I sat and nodded, smiling gently for at least two minutes in complete silence until one of them switched on her camera. I coached her in presenting skills and told her to do something similar to see who switched on their camera next. Slowly, by playing this game everyone was engaged. The school started using the same technique in all their lectures, with their new-found presenting skills they rolled out the workshops to other schools and now two of the girls are running their own seminars and being paid. Sometimes reverse psychology works just as well.
What do some of your previous clients say about the workshop?
“I had no idea how I was coming across until the workshop showed me how important the smallest tips and tricks are in making a big impact.” – RNIB
“Sonia’s coaching is relaxed, on-message, fun and engaging. I didn’t feel like I was in a learning environment and was very happy to take part, which is unusual for me as I’m more of a sideliner in meetings. Now I play a bigger role and love it. My new skills have also helped me get into a proper loving relationship and I can even communicate better with my mother.” TB – FOXTONS
“Am I ever going to forget the walnuts?!?! My confidence is so much higher now I can relax and enjoy presenting rather than dreading it.” – SOH – Royal Opera House
“Sonia you rock! You’ve helped me go from shy participant to confident line manager.” NC – DandAD delegate
If you could identify three top tips for virtual presenting what would they be?
- Smile before your camera goes on.
- Have your three key messages on post-its at the top of your screen or right by your camera lens.
- Come on the course – you’ll have fun in learning the new skills – I promise.
Book your place on the course here to hone your own virtual presenting skills and learn from Sonia’s expertise.