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The accountant’s secret to delivering effective virtual presentations

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The surge in remote work has quickly created demand for a new set of skills for accountants. Not only are accountants racing against an anonymous clock to be future-ready, but there’s also a push to check the box on communication agility.

As accountants are thrust into the virtual spotlight due to the “new normal” fostered by the pandemic, managers and clients are watching closely to see how individuals and teams adapt to different models of communication.

This is the perfect opportunity to stand out and get recognized for your performance. Those soft skills and technical competencies that may have been pushed aside previously have to take the front seat in order to thrive in this new environment.

Learning effective communication strategies online is no longer an option; it’s a necessity that will shape the career of many accountants. According to a report released by the Global Market Insights research firm, the size of the video-conferencing market exceeded $14 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026. The coronavirus pandemic has expedited the demand for virtual presentations. There’s no doubt that work interactions for accountants will be a part of that growth.

The best addition any accountant can make to their performance goals is to learn how to deliver effective virtual presentations.

Remember this acronym and you’ll be on your way to virtual presentation success: CREATE.

C – Content
R – Resources
E – Energy
A –Audience
T – Time
E – Empowerment

You have to know how to create a presentation experience that solidifies your expertise and engages your audience in new ways.

Here’s how you can CREATE a better presentation experience:

Content

In the digital world, the ability to present complex accounting concepts, updates, or recommendations in a way that your audience understands will determine how well your presentation will be received.

No matter how long your presentation is, you will have a limited amount of time to capture the attention of your audience before an array of distractions begins to take over.

Take advantage of images, slides, video and screen sharing to ensure your content appeals to various learning preferences. Use keywords, catchy analogies, repetition and foundational phrases to help attendees retain the information you are sharing.

Remember, your content should represent a clear and concise presentation and not a dissertation. Keep your content simple and don’t overwhelm participants with large volumes of data that they’ll forget a few minutes after you speak.

Resources

No matter how powerful your accounting presentation is, every attendee will not be able to regurgitate every key point. Memorizing accounting standards and IRS guidance shouldn’t be an expectation of your audience. A great presenter ensures that resources are available to help the audience further their understanding of a topic.

You can add a variety of resources to your presentation, including links, worksheets, upcoming courses and videos. Before you deliver your presentation, review each slide to determine what questions others may have and how you can share resources that enhance understanding or serve as a reference.

Energy

Everything around you will play a role in the type of energy that is present during the presentation. From your background scene to your computer screen, you have to be intentional about the way everything around you impacts how the audience receives the information.

Do a test recording before your presentation to check the lighting, your apparel and what appears in your background. If you have qualms about inviting people into your personal space, take advantage of virtual backgrounds. Zoom allows you to customize your virtual background to meet the visual needs of your presentation.

Set up your environment to maximize the amount of good energy you exude during the presentation and then focus on your vocal variety, speed, colors, sounds and word choices to create a good presentation experience.

Audience

The more you focus on your audience, the more effective your virtual presentation will be. Make sure your content meets the needs of the audience and addresses questions they may have in order to activate engagement from attendees.

Set the tone for your presentation before you start sharing details. You can acknowledge participants when they enter, encourage people to participate throughout the session, and use the word “we” and “you” often to allow people to feel more connected to the presentation.

Virtual presentations provide a great opportunity to engage attendees by allowing everyone to provide feedback in a chat session, participate in polls and surveys, and ask questions. As many accountants may have characteristics of being introverts, the ability to communicate in written format though a chat box may help increase engagement. Remember to pause during various sections of your presentation so that you can address questions and ensure your audience is following along.

Time

Starting and ending your presentation on time will earn you virtual applause. As the number of virtual meetings have increased during the pandemic, it’s important to be mindful of other people’s time and to maximize the minutes you have as a presenter.

As a virtual presenter, you’re not only an accountant, you’re a tech support specialist. In order to live up to the duties of this new role, you want to test the capabilities of your technology in advance.

Grab a co-worker and have them join the presentation with you in advance to make sure everything works as planned for you and the attendees. On the day of the presentation, log-in early, test your screen-sharing capabilities and audio, and make sure you have everything you need to deliver your presentation in the allotted time frame.

Empowerment

Technostress is the reality for many accountants and professionals around the world. It’s been around for some time, but the impacts are more visible in a remote environment. Technostress is simply an overwhelming feeling in the workplace induced by the frequent use and adaptation of digital technologies.

Although you may not be a clinical psychologist, your presentation has to be mindful of the feelings everyone is taking on. Learning how to empower your audience will be an essential skill that you will have to master as you deliver virtual presentations.

As you craft your presentation, ask yourself these questions to ensure that you empower your audience:

  • How do I want the audience to feel after my presentation?
  • What do I want the audience to take away?
  • How will this presentation add value to the attendee?

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to create content that achieves your desired outcomes. Then you can develop the right resources, exude a specific type of energy, respond to the needs of the audience, and focus on how you’ll make the most of your time.

Next time you deliver a virtual presentation, test out the CREATE technique to ensure that your next presentation is your best one yet!

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