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This is a photo of a laptop, with a copy of the book Presenting Virtually by Patti Sanchez.

Book Review: Presenting Virtually by Patti Sanchez

We’re living in a virtual world, and Patti Sanchez is here to help.

I received Sanchez’s book, Presenting Virtually: Communicate and Connect with Online Audiences, as a (much wanted!) Christmas gift. I had some down time in January, and what is my office loveseat for if not to curl up with professional development reading?*

If you’re like me and my clients, you spend a good amount of time in virtual meetings. Can Sanchez, in collaboration with her colleagues at Duarte, Inc., help make that time more productive and less mind-numbing? Read on, friends!

What I Liked About This Book:
  • Sanchez concisely covers a number of topics that I haven’t seen in other books or resources:
    • Variations: When I think of “virtual presentations,” I tend to think of a speaker, in a virtual conference room, showing their video feed and slide deck, with (hopefully) a few audience interaction activities. However, there are options for going low-tech (like using hand-drawn visuals) and all-out (with a three-point lighting configuration, DLSR camera, and green screen). Sanchez also advises on the ideal purpose, audience size, and length for various presentation types.
    • Technology: This book recommends the video equipment you should have and discusses how this would vary by type of presentation.
    • Aesthetics: Sanchez covers considerations like what you should have in the background, how you should be positioned on the screen, and what you should (and shouldn’t) wear.
  • Sanchez gets really concrete with her guidance and tools. Most notably, she includes a comprehensive virtual presentation checklist that parallels the guidance in the book. There are also a bunch of helpful tables; my favorites are Figure 7 (Virtual Presentation Formats), Figure 11 (Chunking in a Virtual Presentation), and Figure 28 (Technology Needs for Virtual Presentations).
  • The paperback edition is little, both in page count and physical size. At around 200 pages, you can read it in a few hours, and the size is ideal for throwing into a briefcase or mom purse.
On The Other Hand:
  • About half of the book is devoted to general presentation best practices, like audience analysis, slide design, storytelling, and verbal and non-verbal communication. As someone who already knows a good bit about these topics, I didn’t really need that content. And then, if someone didn’t know much about these topics, I question whether there’s enough content in this book to set them up for success. Someone who’s serious about becoming an awesome virtual presenter could enhance their learning with books like Resonate by Nancy Duarte and Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

Overall, I’m glad Patti and I spent time together on my loveseat! Her book broadened my perspective of what a virtual presentation could be, made me conscious of various technical details I should consider, and spurred Data Soapbox’s presentation equipment wish list.

Want to swap virtual presentation tips? Join us for our next Office Hour!

*Said loveseat is also for Emily in Paris binges and online Canasta dates.

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