Presentations need no introduction—we’ve all seen many of them and probably run a few on our own. Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled to keep your eyes open when sitting in the audience while looking at changing slides. The global move from working in the office to online spaces brought presentations to a new dimension—they’re now on your computer instead of a screen in a meeting room somewhere, and the presenter’s video takes up a small space in the corner of the monitor. But the struggle to stay focused is not over; even if you can attend it from the comfort of your couch, you’re still observing and listening to someone talk.
While online presentations bring many benefits, they remain static, linear, and often don’t keep the audience engaged. So how can we change the way we run presentations online? Let us walk you through some online presentation tips and examples.
Embrace being “online.”
It’s easy to understand why presentations were done in this passive way when we had to enter a restricted, physical space with a slide projector and a clicker. This is rarely the case now as we grow our distributed teams that choose their work location. With people being online and in front of their computers, they no longer have to just watch; let’s use the technology and encourage them to interact.
How to start having more engaging online presentations?
Use software that doesn’t focus on static slides and just an audio/video stream. Online conferencing tools grew in size and power during the pandemic and are now taking a new form. Instead of using your go-to meeting platform, try gathering people on an online whiteboard where the presentation elements can be animated, interacted with in real time, repositioned, and adjusted as the meeting goes on. Everyone present on the board can leave a comment, zoom in or out on any content, navigate an embedded page, or preview a document as you go through your presentation. By interacting with your content, the audience will be more engaged, and you will eliminate interruptions such as “Can you zoom in on the box on the left?” or “Can we go back to the previous slide?”.
How can teams do online presentations right?
We’ve decided to explore two use cases where an online whiteboard engages the audience faster and easier. Using a marketing campaign launch and a Sprint Review as examples, we’ll dive into different features and options that will up your team’s presentation game.
Hit the mark with marketing presentations
Let’s start with launching a new digital campaign. Usually, we would join a conference call while the Marketing team shows the goals, key metrics, the campaign plan and timeline, and an overview of the assets. All these elements are crucial and have to be covered, but moving the meeting to a digital whiteboard changes how the team interacts with the presentation and boosts the feedback quality.
Once the attendees open the board, they can see the presentation content on the canvas. Keep it organized within different frames. They will serve as presentation slides, and people can switch between them in the presented order or navigate them freely. Ask everyone to join the video call on the board and invite them to follow the view of the main presenter. Doing so ensures everyone’s looking at the right thing, but each person can stop following their screen at any point to explore things in detail and then return to the presenter’s view with two clicks. As a presenter, enable presentation mode to move between frames using arrows on your keyboard and hide interface elements and attendees’ cursors.
First should come the goals added to a single frame so that everyone can see them at a glance and leave a comment next to a specific point if something is unclear—no need to interrupt the presentation or wait for the right moment to ask the question. The comments can be answered later or after the call, as the content doesn’t disappear when people disconnect.
When discussing metrics, embed a report page or a dashboard that is automatically updated with the newest data—no more screenshots. The attendees can zoom in independently and navigate the report on the board without missing the presentation. Each person can also come back later to see how the team is progressing toward its goals.
Place the campaign timeline on a blank calendar template and add each step as a Jira issue card that shows the task name, its status, and the person responsible for it. It’s all pulled and updated from Jira automatically, so the Marketing team adds a card, places it on the correct date, and adjusts the size to cover the days when the action will happen—they don’t have to rewrite those details into a slide deck. Everyone knows who’s in charge of what, when it’s happening, and can open a Jira issue to read more about a given point.
At this point, everyone wants to see the assets—the board can hold all the videos, animations, and graphics in the right size and quality. Each person can play the trailer for YouTube ads, explore the Figma mockup, zoom in on the icons for social media, and leave feedback without interrupting other attendees or the presenter. You can also run a voting session on some assets to see which background people prefer or check which headline they like the most.
As the meeting nears the end, leave some time to review the questions left on the board. Apart from comments on specific objects, create a separate frame for feedback where each attendee can add a note at any point of the presentation. Mark things that need a follow-up or more investigation as action points and convert them to Jira tasks so they don’t fall between the cracks of everyday work.
Providing a structure with frames that contain a specific content type and moving smoothly between them is a great way to align the team. Adding the interactivity of the whiteboard allows everyone to adjust the flow and level of detail they need to get the most out of what is presented.
Keep spirits high during Sprint Reviews.
Another excellent example of how presenting on an online whiteboard makes things more interesting is a Sprint Review. This is the moment your team has been working towards for the last week or two, and it’s time to show off the results. Switching between screen-sharing and presenters always takes up valuable time, feedback can get lost as the meeting goes on, and work details have to be accessed through different channels—this is how it usually goes. Let us show you how to simplify this process.
When creating the board for the meeting, start with a frame describing the Sprint goal and whether it’s been achieved. Add the Sprint dates and the name of the team working on it. The person that runs the meeting should place a card with their video stream next to this frame. This way, people can see them as they go through the goals.
Create a separate frame for each of the items delivered during the Sprint. If the presenters are changing, ask each person to add a video stream card next to their frame. Include the Jira ticket corresponding to the delivered project, so attendees can open the requirements, see who worked on it, and review any notes left there. Add any relevant metrics or design files to the frame by embedding the pages or uploading documents to the board.
The crucial part is to showcase the work done and how a given feature works, so each presenter should place a screen-sharing card inside their section. While progressing with the review, people can add notes and comments directly on the board. After each frame is presented, leave a little time to read out and address the feedback or give people a chance to ask questions. Are there some action points coming from the discussion? Add them as sticky notes and transform them into Jira issues later.
When it’s time to move to another delivered item, the next speaker should click their avatar and use the Start presenting feature to have people follow them instead. This ensures no one is lost and helps avoid clunky handoffs between presenters. Everyone’s view will be moved to what this speaker is seeing. If you need to zoom in/out or check something from the previous frame, navigate the board as you would normally and go back to following the presenter once ready.
The last part should be a frame with plans for the next Sprint and its dates. Additionally, you can mark the teams responsible for each goal, add pictures and names of project managers, or embed your product roadmap to show how your Sprints align with it.
Use the same board for your next Sprint Reviews—duplicate all the frames or create a custom template out of them, place them next to your last review, and update the materials before the next meeting. It’s all possible with the infinite canvas of a digital whiteboard, and people can quickly get up to speed or remind themselves what was delivered last time.
The discussions that result as a part of this process are much more valuable because people can easily check things they’re unsure of in attached files or Jira issues. Giving attendees more context about the work and the ability to verify basic information on their own means they have more details to form questions that matter.
Five tips for successful online presentations
1. Always start with a plan.
This applies to both in-person and online presentations, but it can’t be emphasized enough. Think about what you want to say, write down all the points, and use them to create a convincing narrative. It should state the presentation goal, give background to the idea or process, explain the key elements, steps, or results to support the concept, and present conclusions that can include the next steps.
This is similar to your essays in high school—there must be a structure behind the words. Then transfer the narrative into your presentation using frames. Create one frame to discuss one section from your presentation, like goals, background, etc. Check out this quick video on how to use frames on Whiteboards to give your presentation the right flow:
2. Design without limits.
Great ideas don’t always fit strict dimensions. An infinite canvas will hold everything you need to make your point, be it text, images, animations, videos, PDFs, embedded reports or design files, interactive Jira elements, or more. You can also upload files to be downloaded to participants’ devices.
Don’t worry about the size—each object can be resized on the board without losing quality, or you can zoom out on a specific frame to hold more content. And since each attendee can change the zoom level for themselves, everyone can find a view they’re comfortable with.
3. Put a human face on it.
When you connect ideas with an actual person, it’s easier to care for what they have to say. Add a video stream of yourself and other speakers in the frames they’re presenting. Encourage your attendees to enable a video stream next to their cursor when they ask questions. Use photos of the people you’re mentioning. This way, everyone will feel less alienated and develop a deeper understanding because you associate the discussed things with a real person rather than just virtual objects or text.
4. Together Everyone Achieves More, aka. T.E.A.M.
Ask your team members to present the parts they were responsible for. This doesn’t just take part of the pressure off your shoulders but also makes the presentation more dynamic. Having people in charge of the items talk about them adds credibility and provides a fresh perspective. To avoid people losing track of who presents now and what to look at, ask the presenters to invite attendees to follow their view on the whiteboard.
Creating connections and getting to know people from different departments is not as easy in the online world, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. It can also prove beneficial down the line as people will recognize someone’s area of expertise and will be more likely to reach out to them for future collaborations.
5. There’s no growth without feedback.
Don’t let meaningful feedback escape because someone didn’t have the time to ask their question, felt uncomfortable sharing their thoughts publicly, or forgot what they had in mind while waiting for the right moment. Leaving comments or adding sticky notes with questions can be done at any point of the presentation and doesn’t interrupt its flow. Good ideas come from everywhere; sometimes people don’t dare to speak out loud. Give your attendees the space to leave their notes directly on the presented thing whenever they feel like it.
The new reality of online presentations is here. Just use it.
Sometimes all you need to do to have a more engaged audience is to change the software you use, so it provides more autonomy both to the attendees and the presenters.
The combination of a free-form, interactive space with the structure of frames filled with rich media makes it easy to present and engage at the same time. The layout provided by frames keeps the chaos in check but gives enough freedom not to feel restricted. People can dive deeper into the items that interest them thanks to the interactive nature of the board. They also don’t have to wait with their feedback till someone finishes or worry about interrupting them—they can quickly place a sticky note next to the thing discussed, so the context isn’t lost.
Different presenters can smoothly hand off the view without losing time on turning screen sharing off and on. Any action points that come up during the presentation can be easily added to Jira. The board content and all the feedback stays in place when people disconnect, and it’s easier to follow up or check on things.
If all of this sounds convincing, how about running your next presentation on a digital board instead? Start with Whiteboards for free and see how your team likes the new format!