15 Tips for Engaging, Stress-Free Zoom Presentations + Checklist

Your next Zoom presentation is just around the corner — a week away to be exact!

Preparing and planning for the presentation can be a daunting task.

What presentation software to use?

What if the other attendees can hear your neighbor’s loud music in the background?

What if they’ll find your presentation boring?

Don’t even mention the pre-presentation jitters as the day of your presentation draws near.

Relax and take a deep breath.

You don’t have to figure out the answers to these questions by yourself.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about planning and delivering engaging Zoom presentations without the stress and anxiety!

After reading this article, you’ll be brimming with confidence and competence on your next Zoom presentation.

Let’s dive in!

Table of contents:

The science behind your Zoom presentation anxiety

meme about zoom presentations

First off, you’re not alone. Anxiety over Zoom presentations is more common than you think

For example, a 2021 paper on why students have difficulties learning during synchronous presentations over Zoom found that 80 percent of the students polled experienced anxiety and trouble focusing during their virtual classes.

The first step in dealing with your Zoom presentation anxiety is to understand why you’re experiencing the jitters in the first place.

The team at the Department of Communications at Stanford University also wanted to find out. In a peer-reviewed article, Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, highlighted the results of their research and cited four primary reasons behind Zoom fatigue, stress, and anxiety: 

  1. Your brain interprets excessive amounts of close-up eye contact during video chats as an “intense situation”.
  2. Like looking at the mirror, you become more critical of yourself as you see yourself on camera.
  3. Limited movements while you’re chained in your chair and table.
  4. Video chats require a higher cognitive load than face-to-face presentations. 

“You’ve got to make sure that your head is framed within the center of the video. If you want to show someone that you agree with them, you have to do an exaggerated nod or put your thumbs up. That adds cognitive load as you’re using mental calories in order to communicate,” shares Bailenson.

Finally, you have to consider tech troubles and presentation software fiascos as well.

15 Zoom presentation tips and tricks to help you own the room like a pro

Now that you understand why you’re likely to feel nervous before and during a Zoom presentation, here are 15 actionable steps that you can do to calm your online presentation nerves and keep your participants engaged at the same time.

You can also watch the YouTube link below if you’re in the mood for video learning.

Before we start, get your Zoom presentation checklist

Whether you’re presenting a report to your coworkers or pitching to a group of investors online, presentation anxiety stems from fear of the uncertain and unknowns.

The good news is you can address this with a checklist!

The Zoom presentation checklist below is divided into two parts:

  • Planning and preparing for your presentation
  • During the presentation
a downloadable infographic showing 15 tips to engaging, stress-free Zoom presentations

Part 1: Tips on how to plan and prepare for your Zoom presentation

The success of your Zoom presentation is the result of thoughtful planning and preparation.

Get ready for your online class, product webinar, or job interview on Zoom with the following pre-presentation tips:

1. Decide on the scope of your Zoom presentation

Before presenting on Zoom, ask yourself — what one particular idea or insight would you want your audience to learn from you?

“Defining the scope is the most critical step. What are the boundaries, what are the deliverables, what is the topic that you are covering?”, recommends Linda Parry Murphy, CEO of Product Launchers, Inc.

Talking about a lot of subjects and trying to cover everything will only make you too nervous.

Remember the Stanford study earlier about too much cognitive load as one of the reasons behind Zoom presentation anxiety?

Limiting the scope of your presentation can significantly reduce your cognitive load.

2. Plan for the structure of your presentation

It’s important to master the structure and the sequence of your presentation as part of your preparation.

When you plan for your presentation with a structure, it’s easier to go back to what you’re planning to say because you already have a framework as your guide.

As a result, you will feel less anxious because you know you can glance at your outline if you lose your train of thought while speaking in Zoom.

Matt Abrahams, a lecturer in Organizational Behavior and author of Speaking Up Without Freaking Out, recommends the following examples of presentation structures that you can use:

  • Past-Present-Future – review a process or share a timeline
  • Comparison-Contrast – show the benefits of a certain idea, insight, product, or service
  • Cause-Effect – explain the rationale behind a decision
  • Problem-Solution-Benefit – motivate or convince your audience
  • What?-So What?-Now What? – convince people to do a specific action after your presentation

Another simple presentation structure you can work on is to start with an introduction, the meat of your presentation where you can highlight 3 points, and wrap up with the summary and call-to-action.

3. Prepare your presentation visuals

There is plenty of research and evidence to support the idea that using visuals in communication is more effective in getting your message across than written text or oral communications alone.

For instance, an image is three times more effective in conveying information than words alone. Moreover, people gain 75 percent of what they know visually, in contrast to only 13 percent through hearing and only 12 percent through smell.

If your goal is to convince your audience during your Zoom presentation, you’ll also be delighted to know that using visuals can help you become more persuasive.

A Wharton School of Business research found out that around a third of the audiences they polled felt that presenters who used visuals with their presentations were more persuasive.

When making visuals for your presentation, use these questions as your guide:

  • Is there an icon, illustration, or image that could represent your point in a more meaningful way?
  • Will a timeline, flowchart, arrows, graphs, or diagrams help get your point across to your audience?
  • Who are my target audiences? When choosing visuals for my presentation, are there certain cultural taboos or inappropriate humor that I should be aware of?

Present with ease (and minus the stress!) with Piktochart.

You don’t have to worry about how your Zoom presentation will look like. Piktochart’s easy-to-edit templates will take care of the visual aspect for you.

Try Piktochart for free

4. Eliminate clutter in your surroundings

meme about eliminating clutter

As mentioned earlier, staying in the same spot and restricting physical movements during a Zoom presentation is one of the reasons behind presentation anxiety.

For this reason, make an effort to eliminate clutter in your desk and the space behind you. Get rid of extra keyboards, unused notebooks, pens, food boxes, and books. In short, KonMari your way to a stress-free presentation!

Eliminating clutter gives your brain the impression that there’s more room for you to move around during your Zoom event.

5. Do a tech prep

Presenting in Zoom while you’re at home or traveling is a technological wonder in itself. But technology can be frustrating at times too.

Days before your presentation, double-check (or triple check!) the following:

  • Make sure that your laptop, computer, lighting, headset, webcam, microphone, and internet connection are working. Have backup equipment if possible.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Zoom app and other relevant software you’re going to use during the presentation.
  • Close unnecessary browsers, applications, or software before the presentation. Turn off your laptop or desktop notifications.
  • Prepare a PDF version of your presentation and have an extra copy of your presenter notes in case of technical mishaps with your slides. It also makes sense to have a short link to your presentation that you can share with the audience.
  • Do a quick soundcheck and video check.

6. Rehearse your presentation

After taking care of your surroundings and equipment, the next step is to prepare yourself.

Practicing your Zoom presentation in advance can help boost your confidence. Here are some tips to help you rehearse well for your presentation:

  • Screen record yourself. Afterward, check your recorded video for technical issues, your body language, and whether or not your voice is audible or not.
  • Practice with a family member or friend who can give feedback.
  • Rehearse in the same room where you’ll be presenting. Use the same lighting, computer setup, and everything.
  • Practice speaking to the camera, not your computer screen.

Part 2: Tips during your Zoom presentation

It’s the day of your presentation! You already know the ins and outs of your presentation, and you’ve practiced a couple of times.

Take note of the following tips and hacks to make your Zoom presentation engaging and anxiety-free during your webinar or talk:

7. Dress the part

Wear clothes that are appropriate for your presentation and audience. It also helps to be more mindful of your accessories and hairstyle. The outfits and accessories you wear during your Zoom meeting will speak volumes about you as a person.

For example, if you’re presenting to your coworkers, wear work clothes. If you’re pitching to a group of angel investors, wearing a tie can help convey that you’re serious and trustworthy. However, this may not be a good idea if you’re presenting to a group that is more open to change and tends to be more relaxed when it comes to conventional standards.

Another benefit of dressing the part is what you wear actually impacts how you think. Wearing formal clothes can improve abstract thinking and give you a broader sense of perspective, which is influential in helping you make better decisions.

8. Ditch the chair

Standing up when presenting in Zoom rather than sitting down helps you become more confident because you’re not hunched down on your chair.

Standing straight with your shoulders back also enables you to breathe easily, making your voice sound more powerful and confident. Finally, it allows you to move more and make explanatory gestures which is a charisma boost.

The more confident you appear in your presentation, the more confident you’re likely to feel.

“When your mind starts to feel more confident and powerful — it starts to see those challenging situations not as threats but as opportunities,” shares Harvard psychologist professor Amy Cuddy.

If you can’t stand up during your presentation, make an effort to sit straight in your chair and back up your camera a little to show your body and not just your face.

9. Have a memorable introduction

an image showing the ISSAAQQ method in opening a presentation

National best-selling author and founder at Science of People Vanessa Van Edwards specifically recommends opening your presentation with IISSAAQQ to make it more memorable.

IISSAAQQ stands for: 

  • Icebreaker
  • Illustration
  • Short story
  • Statistic or surprising fact
  • Aphorism
  • Analogy or metaphor
  • Question
  • Quote

10. Look your audience in the eye (or rather your webcam)

Looking your audience in the eye is easier during face-to presentations than Zoom presentations. It can be a little tricky during online meetings because we tend to look at people’s faces on the computer screen. Maintain eye contact by looking into your webcam.

“A good idea is to lower the monitor camera a little so that you don’t have to tilt your head back to gaze up at it. If you can’t help looking at someone’s face on the screen instead of their camera, it helps to move the Zoom window to the part of the screen nearest to the camera so at least you’re looking at approximately the right place when you’re looking at their face,” shares Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., executive coach and international keynote speaker.

11. Think happy thoughts

Find ways to boost your mood before your presentation. Aside from helping you feel good (which in turn can boost your confidence), you’re also likely to smile often with happy thoughts. 

When you smile at your audience, they will also likely “mirror” your action and think happy thoughts. 

“Mirroring is relevant to our tendency to be empathetic. When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, and I get your state of mind right away. I feel it as you feel it. We need that mirroring in order to create a full empathic response to other people,” describes Marco Iacoboni, author of Mirroring People and UCLA professor. 

12. Delegate the chatbox

Have someone else take care of chat or Zoom waiting room to keep you from being distracted. This person could be the meeting host, a colleague, or someone you trust who has your back during your presentation.

13. Engage with your audience

Make your presentation a two-way street. Here are some ways to encourage interaction and participation amongst your audience:

  • Ask questions. For example, if you’re presenting a team productivity software in Zoom, ask your audience about their top productivity problems at work. You can also use this time as an opportunity to transition to your next presentation slide.
  • If you have a small audience, remember each person’s name and address them using their first names.
  • Use visuals like illustrations, infographics, or a short video clip in your slide show. Tool recommendation: Use Piktochart Video to transform a long video into short clips.

14. Talk like a human and avoid too much jargon

Alright, what does being a human mean in Zoom presentations?

For a start, avoid talking too much jargon and corporate speak. It makes you more relatable, and it also helps you stand out from other presenters.

Next, improve your visual storytelling skills. Your presentation will be more memorable if you briefly share a story and pair it with visuals.

Sign up for our free visual storytelling course. Check out the teaser video below.

15. Slow down

When you’re anxious and not too confident about your Zoom presentation, you’ll tend to speak fast, which in turn will make you more nervous. It’s a vicious cycle.

When presenting in Zoom, be mindful of your pace. Slowing down will not only take the edge off your nerves but also make you appear more confident.

How to share your Piktochart slide deck on Zoom 

Step 1: On the Piktochart editor, click Share to get the link of your presentation. 

By default, your presentation is not publicly visible.

Step 2: Copy the link and paste it into the browser bar. From here, click the Show Presentation button. This will launch fullscreen presentation mode and now you’re ready to shine!. 

Step 3: Click Share Screen on your Zoom account and choose the browser with the Piktochart link.

Watch the short tutorial below for detailed instructions.

Ready to deliver your presentation and own the Zoom? 

You have a brilliant idea or insight to present, and you need to share them with your audience on your next Zoom presentation. It’s high time you nail it and own the Zoom with the virtual presentation tips we outlined in this guide. 

Take Piktochart for a test drive today and create your next presentation slide minus the stress.


Kai Tomboc

Kyjean Tomboc is an experienced content marketer for healthcare, design, and SaaS brands. She also manages content (like a digital librarian of sorts). She lives for mountain trips, lap swimming, books, and cats.

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