If you’ve been asked to give a presentation via Zoom (or another web conferencing platform), you may be wondering how that compares to what you would have done in class. This tip sheet can give you some ideas of what carries over from face-to-face presentations and what might need to be thought of differently.

What’s the same?

Many of the principles of good presentations will carry over to the online format. For example, excellent presentations should still:

  • Provide relevant information
  • Be well organized
  • Keep your audience engaged
  • Use visual aids that rely more on images than text
  • Use visual aids that are a supplement, not a replacement for the verbal presentation. 

Even with a mediated presentation, the way you present information is important along with the content you are presenting. Your verbal and nonverbal delivery matter.

What is Different?

Audiences can engage with speakers differently

You can use chat windows and discussion spaces to get more instantaneous feedback from audiences. You can also more easily provide supplemental resources by giving links.

Organization becomes even more important

Because the audience is not physically present and they clearly have an electronic device in front of them, it’s easier than ever for them to get lost. Be extra deliberate in providing a roadmap for your organization and then referring back to that road map can help keep people on track.

Your environment is more adjustable

You have more control over the environment than you would in a classroom. Be sure your background is as professional and simple as possible to avoid distractions. Use adequate lighting. While the ideal is to have lighting from three sides (one above, two that are more to the front and side), being sure you can be seen and that there is not a light source (window or lamp) directly behind you will be sufficient. Light sources directly behind you tend to put you in shadows. 

You also have more flexibility about how you are seen. Ideally, you will position your camera and yourself so that you are visible from approximately the waist up and take up the majority of the screen. If possible, stand up for the presentation as you would in class. If you cannot stand up for some reason, be sure you are in a stable chair that doesn’t roll or spin to reduce the chances you will make distracting movements.

Technology is vital

Even more so than a presentation that requires you to use PowerPoint, presenting via Zoom has the potential to expose problems with technology. Be sure to test all of your equipment before your presentation begins. (Here is more information on support and technology tips from LITS.) 


Office / Department Name

Oral Communication Center

Contact Name

Amy Gaffney

Oral Communication Center Director

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