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  • How to improve your Zoom online speeches

  • Massimo “Marco” Peroncelli

    April 28, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Like everybody else, our Toastmaster club had to move to an online-only format for the time being, and this created problems, challenges but, as usual, also opportunities.

    In this particular case, I had the chance to study Zoom and to (ab)use some of its functionalities in order to improve my speeches.

    First of all, I tried to simply share the screen, for example here:

    How to publish a book

    But sharing the screen for a long period of time made it somewhat boring and the public could not see me, except in the corner in a small thumbnail.

    So, my personal evaluator suggested me to do several “in/out” with the screen sharing, to make it more “lively” and interesting, and this is an example:

    The power of exponential growth

    Still, there is a problem: sometimes, you are not allowed to share the screen. I then tried to use my (rather big) TV to project the slides, so that I could simply comment on them, and not being relegated in a small corner.

    Resolving conflicts

    As you can see, there were technical problems: even though I spent hours to check lightings and so on, still when the background was too bright, my face and body were too dark. Without a proper studio, this solution is very hard to implement.

    When I finally got my green screen, I started experimenting with Zoom virtual backgrounds and I found I neat trick that I didn’t see anybody else using before: changing the virtual backgrounds AS IF they were slides, and preparing them so that I knew where they were, to mimick a sort of interaction with them.

    Not to scale

    By the way, this was a recycled speech adapted for online usage, and I was the target speaker for D95 Division E contests.

    The only problem, now, was that if I mirrored the screen, I could not read it well, but if I did not, I could read it but I had to remember that moving my hand to the right, it would move the corresponding hand on the screen to the left! At the end, I decided to leave the screen mirrored because I knew the text on the slides.

    How did I technically do it?
    In a very simple way:

    1) I erased ALL the default virtual backgrounds in Zoom
    2) I prepared my slides with a 1920×1080 resolution, eventually positioning the objects in the right spot according to my body position (that I had to plan in advance of course)
    3) I added my slides in the CORRECT order, so that I could simply go to the next one
    4) During the speech, I kept the “change virtual backgrounds” window open, and I kept it as close as possible to the webcam, so that I could simulate looking directly into the public eyes and at the same time see the video (and having the slides very close to be changed quickly)

    Now, this is still not perfect:

    1) Every time you make a speech, you have to manually remove the old backgrounds and replace them with the new ones. I still don’t know if the default virtual backgrounds get REALLY deleted from the computer or not, but I do not really care. There are dozens of them available on the Toastmasters website, plus literally thousands all over the internet.
    2) I still have to move the mouse to click on the correct background. What I do, when I click on the new one, I immediately position the mouse pointer on the NEXT slide, so I only need a click to activate it
    3) I opened a ticket on Zoom forums to request a feature so that there could be a keyboard shortcut (there is none at the moment) to go the next and previous virtual background, so that we could use a remote/presenter in the same way we use PowerPoint slides, but as of today (Apr 28th, 2020) I didn’t get back from Zoom

    All in all, I am happy that with some ingenuity I was able to improve my online speeches and I hope somebody else will use this tecnique to improve his/her speeches as well.

    This is the last speech I made using the tecnique:

    How I improve my public speeches in 60 seconds

    Happy talking!

  • Claudio Sennhauser

    April 28, 2020 at 7:13 am

    WOW! Thank you so much for sharing your tips.

    Your progress from ‘How to Publish a Book’ to your latest presentation is amazing. Impressive…

  • Nathan Gold

    April 30, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Marco, the Not to Scale video is a real keeper meaning, it has tremendous potential to become a very popular video. Why? Well, two main reasons, IMHO. Firstly, YOU can become the one person who quickly and easily reframes people’s understanding of something they think they already understand and help them perhaps be more able to solve more problems in life by thinking more clearly about such things as Scale. The second reason is you are the first person I have seen that is using a green screen effectively with virtual backgrounds with a creative twist.

    The backgrounds I see people using usually have many problems with hands, hair, and faces disappearing especially when moving them too fast for some cameras. The green screen you are obviously using is working great AND it allows you to be in control of where people are looking by pointing to the “virtual background” as your slide content.

    I especially like how you did this as it shows a very creative use of virtual backgrounds. Super well done. In fact, so well done that I have taken the liberty of including your YouTube video on My Favorites page on my site here: https://www.democoach.com/video-favs Laughing

  • Massimo “Marco” Peroncelli

    May 6, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Wow, not only honored and humbled by your evaluation, but also by the fact that you added my video to some of your favorites 🙂 thank you again!

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