8 ways to engage your audience when presenting in a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting

By now most business professionals have become familiar with the basics of presenting in Microsoft Teams or Zoom. We know how to turn the camera on or off, mute and unmute ourselves (although we all forget to unmute before speaking sometimes), and share our PowerPoint slides. The bar has been raised from the first meetings we attended where many fumbled with the technology.

Now it is time to improve the way you engage the people who are watching and listening to your presentation in Teams or Zoom. Here are eight ways you can improve over the standard approach of static slides in the large portion of the window and your small video panel in the corner.

Use builds on your slides

Instead of displaying all of the slide content at once, use the animation feature in PowerPoint to build the content on your slides one piece at a time. Display each text point as you begin to speak about it, display each data series in a graph as you explain what it shows, or display each step in a process diagram as you discuss why it is important. By building the content of your slides you regularly provide a new visual for the participants.

Show a short video clip

A short (30 seconds or less) video clip is a good way to switch the voice the participants are hearing and change the visual. There are many YouTube videos that you can use to demonstrate or reinforce a point you are making. Use the advice in these articles and videos to show a short clip from a YouTube video (Teams article or video; Zoom article or video).

Show a website

You can switch from sharing your slides to sharing your browser to show a web page that you want the participants to see. This can be, for example a product comparison page, resource for them to explore later, or regulatory information. Displaying a web page engages the participants because it changes the look of the content that is being shared.

Capture follow up ideas

In an in-person meeting you might use a flip chart to capture ideas or tasks for follow up. In a Teams or Zoom meeting, switch from sharing your slides to sharing a Word document so everyone sees what is being captured and can agree on the next steps. Open a blank document before the meeting starts so you are ready to do this. After the meeting, email the document to everyone or post it in the collaboration tool the team uses.

Poll the participants

One way to engage the participants is to have them provide some input. In advance, create a poll that will gather their opinion on a topic (this article explains how you can use Microsoft Forms to do this in Teams or Zoom). When you get to that point in your presentation, ask the participants to complete the poll. Show the results and then tie it to your next topic.

Use the chat feature

If you are strategic about use of the chat feature in Teams or Zoom, it can be a great way to keep participants engaged. Give the group some ground rules at the start on how you want them to use the chat. One good approach is to ask them to enter their questions or reactions in the chat as you are presenting. Then stop regularly to read the chat comments and respond. This makes sure that the participants know you are interested in their thoughts and comments and they will get their questions answered without having to remember them until the end.

Show the impact of changes

If you are presenting financial or operational information that involves calculations, be open to answering questions by showing the impact. Switch from sharing your slides to sharing a spreadsheet that shows the impact of changing different inputs or assumptions. If participants ask how a change would impact the results, you can show the impact live in the meeting by changing the spreadsheet and watching it calculate the new results.

Stop sharing your slides

If you want to engage the participants in a story or example, turn off the sharing of your slides so they see your video large in the meeting window. Now they can focus on your facial expressions and not be distracted by the slides. When you are done the story, share your slides again.

*** I added four more ways to engage your audience in this article ***

When you are presenting PowerPoint slides in a Teams or Zoom meeting, don’t stick to the default of static slides and a small video panel. Improve your presentation by using one or more of these eight ways to engage your audience in the meeting.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.