Virtual Presentation Tips for Teachers, From a Professional Presentation Coach
At K-12 Clothing, we think it is really important to support our teachers so when we met someone who coached professionals how to present - both live and in Zoom - we took the opportunity to speak to her. Susan E. Finch joined us on The Multipurpose Room to give us her expert opinion on how to translate one’s classroom teaching skills into effective Zoom classroom leadership. This blog post has the highlights!
1. Listen, Listen, Listen
It may come as a surprise, but one of the key characteristics that an effective presenter must embody is the ability to be an effective listener. Naturally, when a teacher begins their class prepared to deliver a presentation, they are working from a prepared agenda. But it is important that this agenda to be malleable and for the teacher to be able to adjust according to class response. And how does the teacher know whether their agenda needs changing? Why, by listening (and watching), of course!
Teachers are able to see a close up of each child’s face via Zoom - use it! They are able to pick up on cues of boredom, tiredness, or distraction. Teachers can address individuals or the class as a whole by reading the level of engagement. While being an effective listener may sound easy, it is not intuitive to everyone, and a great source is to check out this master class in listening at transformationmadeeasy.com. You’ll be a pro in no time!
2. Focus on Interaction
Although being prepared is important for presentations, it is even more important to stay engaged with your class and not look at your notes. In a classroom setting when you hold up a piece of paper, the students can see that and can still engage with your body language. When you are on a screen, it is both harder to see the paper and for your audience to see your body language. As such, if you are using notes then make sure to have them at eye level so that your focus does not divert from the camera.
Of course, focus is a two-way street, and for effective online presentations, it is essential for your students to be engaged. Ask questions and ask your students to give thumbs up or down to keep them engaged. Create a class rule for focus - for example, hands together. If you see a child distracted, you can ask them to do “hands together” to take focus away from the object and back to the classroom. Some teachers even ask students to avoid taking notes as this takes away from the in-class focus. You can then either provide students lecture recordings or a written recap of the class once it has ended.
3. Create a Classroom Setting
Although the ‘setting’ of your class will be restricted through what is visible through your student’s laptop screen, it can make a significant difference. A dull and dreary room with poor lighting is bound to dampen the mood and suck the energy out of your words, whereas a little lighting can go a long way.
While it’s okay to have a couple of personal items scattered in the background – after all, everyone realizes that we’re working from home – the teacher should take care not to have a background that is overly distracting. As long as the instructor themselves stands out from what surrounds them, they are good to go. If they are able to keep other learning tools in their background (e.g., a white board, a calendar, etc.) it can be a nice reminder that students are in a classroom setting.
4. Unmute Everyone...Yes, Everyone
You might think we are crazy with this one but hear us out. Common Zoom practice includes putting everyone on mute while the teacher speaks, and only unmuting yourself if you have a point to make or a question to ask – after virtually raising your hand and being called on, of course. While the intention behind this practice is good – to avoid distractions – it goes against the natural setting that students are used to in brick and mortar classrooms.
In physical classrooms, students can’t be put on ‘mute’, and so if there are disruptions, there are disruptions. But this just makes the conversation and discussion flow more naturally with everyone getting a chance to speak up. Additionally, it helps retain individual focus as when students are aware that they’re being heard they would refrain from engaging in other things while the class is going on. So, a teacher’s simple decision to have the class on unmute can garner significant attention towards and engagement with their presentation material. And student’s unfiltered reactions also act as helpful cues for the presenter.
5. Be Passionate
This one goes for all presentations, whether they happen in-person or virtually. If the teacher has a love for what they’re talking about and an enthusiastic zeal to bring fresh ideas to the table, then their students will be able to grasp that through their presentation and engage in the same way. Standing can also add energy to your voice so it you can, stand during all, or parts, of your teaching.
6. Be Comfortable
Once you start talking over a video call, you’ll soon realize there are a lot of ‘issues’ with the way you talk. And if you’re doing a recorded session, then these will stand out even more. But the key thing to remember is that most of these ‘issues’ aren’t issues at all, they’re just in your head.
It’s important for presenters to not get too conscious about how they sound or how they look on camera and focus their attention on the material instead. Remember, if you’ve got a good grip on what you’re talking about, then you’ll be able to keep the class engaged for sure.
So, there you have it, expert tips from an expert acting and presentation coach, brought to you exclusively by The Multipurpose Room!