VR has created a substantial array of new opportunities for those in A&D as seeing spaces virtually has become an increasingly key component of creating winning work. But like any story, it may fall flat without the right presentation. VR may lend itself to getting caught up in the technology, but a strong VR presentation is critical to storytelling success. VR may be used by architects to jump into the heart of a new development mid-way through design to view sight lines or by an interior designer to virtually experience how combinations of finishes work together before turning them into the real thing. But, beyond the creatives themselves, what are the best VR presentation tips that will wow your audience? It happens that we’ve done some testing on this. Did I say ‘some’? I mean a LOT. We’ve done a lot of testing - over 1000 hours - and so we’ve got some great tips. Let’s start with the basics of the best VR presentation possible.
Our top VR Presentation Tips:
Back it up
A wise grandparent at some point, somewhere, will have said ‘Take care of the simple and the complicated will take care of itself.’ Backups are simple and making sure VR experiences are properly loaded on a phone should be the first box ticked every time. If WIFI conditions are unknown and/or there’s any potential for weak cell reception, VREs will need to be downloaded beforehand so that everything during a VR presentation can be done offline. Ensure your VR software partner has an offline method to help showcase your work. In our experience, this frequently comes into play at trade shows - convention hall wifi is notoriously spotty, so we always have an offline backup of our showcase when we’re sharing VR experiences. If the presenter is using their own phone, make sure rings, sirens and alerts are all silenced. That way immersed viewers, awestruck by the majesty of a modern-day Sistine Chapel won’t be ripped from their moment by the latest score in the Giant’s game.
When presenting to groups, whether they’re together in a single room or dialing in from remote corners of the globe, it’s important that each one can take part in the experience. This may take some planning ahead. If there aren’t multiple goggles for every person in a room, or those joining remotely don’t have access to them, VREs can be shared easily via a web link so they can be viewed on a desktop or mobile in a 'fishtank' mode. While this doesn’t offer an immersive experience, it will allow each member to follow the presentation and navigate through the VR experience and until goggles are more ubiquitous, having an alternative is one of our top VR presentation tips.
We recommend presenters use a fishtank mode on their laptop or tablet to demonstrate VR designs and if there’s a larger central screen that can be connected to, that’s even better. Even if everyone has access to headsets, they may not necessarily want to use them throughout and having designs on a central screen during larger, in-person, meetings enables the presenter to navigate quickly around environments and for everyone to follow and stay engaged. We've also heard from early adopter clients that their own VR presentation tips to their peers are to make sure they have a way of seeing what their client is seeing, and the monitor accomplishes that as well.
For presentations that aren’t taking place in person or are being sent in advance, embedding recorded audio or video notes inside a VR experience can be the next best thing to sitting side by side. VR is an immersive medium and the impact of that can be very easily disrupted if viewers are needing to flip back and forth between the design and accompanying notes to fully understand particular elements. It is also not a medium that lends itself well to having large blocks of floating explainer text within the experience. This can be really distracting and take away from the visual flow. Audio or video files can be recorded and added strategically to any areas of a VR design that would benefit from the further explanation or description - think elaboration on why particular finishes were chosen or how adjustments have been made based on previous client comments. Triggered by a viewer’s gaze, audio and visual notes allow people to stay immersed in the experience while getting a designer’s direction and insight. For more detail on using audio and video in VR, check our previous blog post on the subject.
While VR does allow viewers to experience environments in their own way, as a presenter it’s also essential to lead the direction and ensure those being presented to are clearly following. Using VR technology, such as ours, that’s been developed with a Presenter Mode means presenters can invite anyone they choose to collaborate via sharing a simple web link. By doing this, the presenter can see exactly where participants are looking, or alternatively request that they shift their gaze to the presenter’s icon. Viewing another person’s motion when using VR can trigger nausea for some, and so, with this in mind, Yulio developed a ‘Spotlight’ feature which allows the presenter to shine a virtual flashlight on a specific item or area. Doing this momentarily darkens everyone else's view and slowly moves their gaze to the presenter’s location. Think of it as the virtual equivalent of parents of sugar-hungry kids carefully easing them from the candy aisle of a grocery store to the fruit aisle (NOTE - in some real-life cases we realize the draw of candy is just too strong and parents can be rendered powerless.)
Hand it Off
One very interesting thing we found during our user testing was the level of discomfort people, especially technophobes, feel if they don't understand how to properly navigate VR, or if they feel they’ll look foolish when in a headset - their hair being put out of place, etc - or if they think they may feel sick. Each of these concerns is only heightened when in a boardroom full of colleagues and therefore, how a presenter is able to hand off to a viewer is important. Presenters should be re-assuring and take away the notion of wanting to blindfold their client by offering for them to pop in and out of the experience - removing headset straps is a good option for this - and instructing them clearly on how to navigate the design. Avoiding peripheral hardware such as handheld controllers or joysticks can ensure minimal instructions are needed and a simple navigation process such as Yulio’s gaze-to-go control, should enable clients to relax and enjoy the experience.
For more of our VR presentation tips, sign up today for our Business Ready VR course - it’s a free 5-day program of videos and other assets to make you an expert in 10 minutes a day. Or, if you’re ready to start presenting your designs in VR, grab a free account.