How to present in a video conference

A guide to graduate students but also to everyone:

NOTE: Preparing and presenting in front of a camera is different from presenting in the classroom or a seminar room with a living audience. A few rehearsals and some tips will help make you an excellent presenter.

The era of covid-19 impacted the lifestyle of many – if not all – of us. We have realized that sitting and listening to presentations is not fun anymore – maybe it was never fun anyway -. Experts are confirming that attending video conference meetings and seminars using different tools such as MS Team, Zoom, Hangout, is a challenge to our attention span. While in regular seminar and class rooms, we would look at the audience and evaluate their interests and fatigues, it is difficult to do the same while using online tools as you might simply turn the video off and start doing something different.

In the following I will present some hints and tips on how to deliver a video conference presentation that will keep the audience engaged.

First things first: Know your audience:

  • To whom will you be presenting?
  • Why are they attending?
  • What is the message you want to give them?

Prepare your Audio:

  • Get a good microphone. USB-based microphones are easy to plug in via USB and require little installation and fiddling.
  • Get a clip-on mic if you plan to speak while standing and moving while presenting. Here it is important to keep your voice up-close and consistent as you move.
  • Minimize echo from the room. 
  • Minimize background noise
  • Turn off your mobile phone and any types of notifications

Prepare your Video:

  • Maintain eye contact with the camera: Make sure the camera lens is at your eye level. Please do not have your camera to the side, or below your chin.
  • Give your audience the feelings you are engaging with them: Make sure your eyes are well lit in order for your audience to pick up and see your emotion.
  • Step back from the camera, but do not move much
  • Place your script of the reading material if any adjacent to the camera lens.
  • Prepare your slides with minimal words and use figures, graphs and other visuals. Do not flood them with text.

Location and background:

  • Give audience one thing to focus on: No Hard Lines or complicated patterns
  • Clean backgrounds without clutter are best; solid color is ideal
  • A bookshelf, a logo, or and interesting not clutters background is good


  • Soft white light
  • Light from the front, ensure the lighting is facing you, not shining behind you 
  • Your entire frame should be clear and full of light.
  • Your Face/shoulder view should take at least ⅓ of the screen (the middle third)


  • Wear simple designs and lighter colors
  • Do not wear white, green, or busy patterns: “Busy” outfits blur when on camera
  • Colors and patterns can make a difference in how you come across on screen: Simpler patterns aid the video compression

Rehearsal: Practice and then practice:

  • Prepare a script to speak. Record your rehearsal
  • Speak clearly: use the tonnage as if you are talking to people in from of you
  • Manage your fear: look at the camera so that your audience can look at you in your eyes. 

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