How to annotate online presentations

Oct 10 2011 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Are you tired of your webinars and web presentations simply pushing PowerPoint at your audience? You can make them more engaging and impactful with a little work. One of the most useful, but most under-utilized tools in the online presenting toolkit are the annotation tools. These are things like pointers, highlighters, circling tools and more.

In my book 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations, I offer some tips for using these very cool features. Yes, it requires a little practice to handle the multi-tasking, but you'll benefit by being more competent, confident and engaging.

Spontaneously highlight words and key information. Sure, you might be able to use PowerPoint to highlight a key word, but it's often more eye-catching to suddenly have a splash of color appear to circle key terms, or stress which point is most memorable. When your audience looks at a static picture too long, they start to tune out. Color and motion reengage your audience visually.

Settle on the color for your annotations before you start. For some reason, most platforms assign the most boring, useless annotation colors to the presenter. The good news is that you can often select a color that works better for your style, personality, and the presentation template you're using. Don't make the audience wait for you to change colors on the fly. Being prepared helps you look more in control and competent.

Use the precision tools for precise work. One of my favorite ways to highlight information is to create a circle or box around key information. If you've ever tried to use the "highlighter" or pencil, though, you know that drawing good circles with a mouse is almost impossible, unless you're some kind of etch-a-sketch savant. Most platforms have tools that allow you to create perfect circles or rectangles. Practice with them until you can do it in one simple motion.

Arrows beat little red dots. Maybe it's just me. What is it with engineers and laser pointers? You know those little bouncy, unsteady, red dots that drive you crazy in regular presentations? Now you can unsteadily bounce around the screen virtually as well. Why would you want to? Use arrows and pointers to draw the eye to key information in a way that won't drive the audience crazy.

Use stamps to check items off one by one. Look, it's not great art, but many of us use PowerPoint slides that are bulleted lists. (Whether you should or not is an open question, but you know it happens). The problem is that you spend a lot of time talking about one point, then move on and sometimes the audience loses track of where you are.

Use stamps like checkmarks to tick off the items as you address them. This helps the audience maintain focus and also adds color to a slide that's been sitting there a long time.

These little tricks and tools are what separates great online presenters from the merely competent, and can make or break your training, sales presentation or meeting.

For more ways to develop your online presentation skills, consider our Web Presentation Basics workshop, available for individual enrollment.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel has been writing about how to communicate effectively in remote and virtual environments for more than 20 years. In 2016, he merged with The Kevin Eikenberry Group, to create The Remote Leadership Institute, and now serves as Master Trainer and Coach to the Kevin Eikenberry Group. Wayne is also is the author of more than 15 books, including The Long-Distance Teammate and The Long-Distance Team.