Presenting online? These 5 words make you sound nervous

Laptop user nervously biting on a pencilSuppose you’re presenting on­line. You might be using Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, or one of the older tools like Adobe Connect or WebEx.

Whatever the platform, if you want to share your screen, what do you say?

Most presenters I’ve heard – myself included – say something like this:

“I’ll just share my screen…
Can you see it yet?”

But thinking carefully about it, I realised that approach has 3 problems:

  • The word “just” is meant to portray that it’ll only take a moment before people see your screen. But it can easily come across as being timid, as though what you’re about to do isn’t of much value.
  • The pause between saying you’re sharing your screen and asking whether people can see it is awkward. It’s the opposite of deliberate pauses you insert into what you’re saying. Those are proactive, in that you choose their length, so they show your power. But this pause is reactive – you’re waiting for the system, which shows your lack of power!
  • Perhaps worst of all, the 5 words “Can you see it yet?” emphasise that you’re still waiting for the system to cooperate. So they only highlight your lack of power.

Or, you might simply say:

“Can everyone see my screen?”

That’s maybe a little better than the other option, above, but not much. Crucially, it still makes you sound doubtful.

So I was stoked that a far better approach occurred to me today. That is, you can sound and even feel more confident if you say this instead:

“I’ll share my screen now –
Let me know when you can see it”

Why’s that better? Well, in killing off the 3 problems listed above, it also transforms what you say into a pair of assertive statements. There’s no awkward pause between them, and you even share your power with your audience by prompting them to form their own answer (rather than you merely asking them for a “Yes” or “No”).

So next time you present online and you want to share your screen, make that simple wording change to come across as confident – and to feel confident too!


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