18 Ways to Make Your Presentation More Interactive
As a presenter, staring out at a sea of mind-numbingly boring faces will only make you more nervous, talk faster and try and get the presentation over with asap. Certainly not the best way to get an effective and meaningful message across.
Not only can interacting with your audience help them to better understand what you are saying, but they are also more likely to retain the information and pay attention.
Engaging the crowd, no matter if it is big or small, is the best way to keep them focused, interested, and attentive to what it is you're saying. So to help you, we have compiled a definitive list of ways to make your presentation interactive. Obviously, Mentimeter can go a long way to help you make an interactive presentation , I mean, that is what it was designed for. If you want a more comprehensive deep dive into presenting to an audience, you can check out our free public speaking course !
- Use an icebreaker
- Keep it simple
- Ask the audience
- Try out a quiz
- Make eye contact
- Don’t forget body language
- Make use of effective language
- Add in some visual and audio effects
- Benefit from a video
- Let the audience answer anonymously
- Get your audience moving
- Turn to social media
- Turn control over to the audience
- Make things personal
- Get a group photo
- Share the presenter spotlight
- Use some props
1. Break the Ice
The perfect starting point is to ask a straightforward question that will warm up the audience. This is a simple way to turn your audience from listeners to active participants from the get-go. Moreover, it will help you to relax before you get into the main body of the presentation and deliver your most important points.
Now the beauty of icebreakers is that there is one for every occasion. There are fun icebreakers, silly icebreakers, as well as thought-provoking icebreakers. So decide which type would best suit your presentation and feel free to check out some of our icebreaker templates designed to help inspire you.
2. Use a straightforward presentation
Plan out your presentation to be clean, simple to follow, and not too complex. Keep in all essential details and allow the audience to ask about specifics during a Q&A session.
Remember you don’t have to say absolutely everything, just what is needed. Otherwise, it could end up being distracting and overwhelming for the audience, and they may switch off and ignore what you’re saying.
3. Ask the audience questions
Yes, ask them questions, but don’t pick out particular audience members. By using an online tool such as Mentimeter you allow them to interact, making them feel part of the presentation and the value creation process.
This is also valuable for the presenter as you can gain helpful insights and data about the audience, their experience of the presentation, and any takeaways from it such as ways to improve.
We have a few question types that are perfect for any and every presentation.
If you want to get your audience thinking and debating, then a poll question can spark some lively back and forth. Talk through answers to see what the consensus is or where we differ on opinions.
Word Clouds are a great way to get short succinct answers to any type of question. Word Clouds are a useful way to introduce some brevity to a presentation or to ask something pertinent that requires some thought and reflection.
A quiz competition is an amazing way to have some fun with your audience. The quiz can be used both for educational purposes such as a test, but also just to have a game of trivia. Testing your audience’s knowledge in this way will mean they are more relaxed and also reinforce what they have just heard and learned. If you want some quiz inspiration, check out our quiz competition templates .
5. Use humor
Showing your personality and sense of humor can lighten the mood and build a good rapport with the crowd. The audience is more likely to remember you if you make them laugh and in turn remember your ideas and key points.
6. Eye contact
The power of good eye contact can never be underestimated. It gives you a strong stage presence and can help to effectively deliver your point. Bear in mind that you should try to connect with each section of the audience. You don’t want to just stare at one person making it feel awkward and you look nervous. Establishing and maintaining eye contact gives it a much more personal and intimate feel as if you are talking directly to that person.
7. Body language
Your gestures and body posture are particularly significant to the air you give off and the influence you have. Making sure you are visible and not hiding behind a stand is obvious but something that many nervous presenters do. You need to create a connection with them and standing strong will make you seem more confident and in control, automatically engaging the audience. Gestures that reach out to the audience and techniques such as moving around on stage command the audience’s attention.
8. Effective language
Using inspiring language and adjusting your tone of voice to your advantage can affect how you impact and influence the audience. The language you use also needs to match the tone and style of the presentation. So whether it is formal or informal, what the demographic of your audience is, it is important to make sure you don’t use too technical or not technical enough terms.
9. Add visuals and audio effects
Simply put, they help to make your talk not so boring. Using music or sound effects will naturally perk the audience up. Music is a great way to bond with the audience as it evokes emotion and can help them to recall presentation ideas.
Images, videos, and even GIFs can add a visual element that will help draw attention back to your slides and give people something else to focus on.
10. Use videos
Videos halfway through a presentation are an awesome tactic to refocus the audience. If you see your audience starting to get restless or fidgety, a video can instantly revive and get them interested again. Videos can be a great way to start up a discussion, and reinforce your message, and more often than not, people are more moved and affected when they see a video. Sometimes a video can say much more than words ever could.
11. Allow the audience to ask anonymous questions
Allowing the audience to ask questions whenever they may have one, enables them to have their say and feel as if their opinion is valued. Traditionally, people would not want to raise their hands in front of many people and give their opinion or ask a question. Mentimeter allows and encourages people to contribute by permitting them to share anonymously which in turn increases learning.
12. Raise your hand questions
It may seem strange but using traditional methods, instead of digital platforms to revive a bored crowd is easy and effective. Using too many digital question tools could be a bit too excessive, so a simple show of hands is an alternative to get everyone involved.
13. Use social media
Twitter can be a great tool to use in a presentation to show outside opinions and to get the audience to connect. Introducing a hashtag can encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas during a presentation and continue the discussion after the presentation is finished.
14. Give the audience more control
Giving the audience the control by putting the presentation slides in their hands and enabling them to go back to previous slides will be advantageous for them to understand better. Presentation slides are the perfect tool to effectively communicate your message.
By using Mentimeter, the audience can look at the slides on their smartphones, so if there was something they missed or wanted to go back over they can easily do it. This also allows them to participate while you speak and ‘like’ the slide or send a ‘heart’ for example, which is great for you to know which slides the audience likes best.
15. Make it personal
Telling stories and letting your personality shine through, can make you more relatable to the audience. Storytelling and sharing your personal experiences is the best way to capture and maintain the audience’s attention whilst keeping them entertained. People want to hear what happens next and it will make your presentation more memorable.
16. Take a crowd photo
A fun way to wake the audience up and get everyone to smile! Smiling is a great pick-me-up and releases endorphins which will put everyone in a better mood! Win-win!
17. Share the presenting role
Inviting people and guest speakers on stage is a great way to change the topic, get a new perspective and switch up the presenting style helping to re-engage your audience. Note: plan, you don’t want to spring this on someone last minute or mid-way through the presentation!
18. Use props
This might seem a bit old-fashioned but it can catch the audience’s attention and make it amusing. Using props to your advantage either to demonstrate or reinforce your point will make the presentation more interesting. It is a different approach to the standard ‘lecturing’ presentation style where the audience is read with bullet points on the screen. It also allows them to visualize what you are talking about.
Greater interaction means greater attention levels
To interact successfully with your audience, the presentation slides should be used in combination with some of the other tips mentioned in this article. This will help your audience to stay focused, enable them to recall your main points, and in turn allow you to deliver an effective, engaging presentation.
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How to Make a Presentation Interesting (And NOT Boring!)
Whether presenting to colleagues at work or giving the keynote at a major conference, Microsoft PowerPoint and other slide presentations have become an absolutely essential way to share information.
It’s easy to use, offers a great way to combine images, video, and text, and requires almost no training.
So, why are so many presentations so BORING?
All the elements are there for creating effective, eye-catching, and engaging presentations, but so often we’re forced to sit through slide after slide of overcrowded, hard-to-read text and fuzzy (or non-existent) images.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t need to be an expert at public speaking or worry about giving a Ted Talk level presentation.
You can make your presentations dazzle with just a few easy tips.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The crucial mistake that makes most presentations boring.
- How you can use video (YES, VIDEO!) to enhance your presentation .
- Why animated GIFs can give life to your slides .
- How using custom screenshots is better than stock images .
- A better way to share your slides .
Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!
Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.
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Why are so many PowerPoint presentations boring?
There are a lot of reasons that presentations can be so boring, but here are a two key issues:
1. Too much text
Many people believe they need to put everything they want to share on their slides when they create PowerPoint presentations (or presentations with any slide deck software, such as Google Slides or Apple Keynote). So, they fill their slides with huge bulleted lists or long paragraphs that you have to squint to read, even if you’re in the front row.
I get it. There’s a lot to share and we want to get it out in as few slides as possible. Besides, what if someone wants to download my slides? They’ll need to be able to see everything I talked about to understand, right?
Trying to cram all your information into your slides is a crucial mistake that leads to cluttered, overcrowded slides, and almost guarantees that your presentation will be boring and difficult to comprehend.
Here’s the truth: Your message will be more powerful with less clutter on your slides.
2. Not enough visuals
A recent study found that poorly constructed PowerPoint decks can lead to “distraction, boredom, and impeded learning,” while a well-crafted one enhances audience engagement and information retention .
Plus, let’s not forget that PowerPoint is a visual medium. People didn’t come to your presentation to read text off a slide. They came to listen to you present important information. And, the best way to present information is with visuals.
In fact, our research on the Value of Visuals shows that people actually absorb information faster and remember it better and for longer when it’s presented visually vs. text.
And a visual presentation doesn’t just help your audience, it will help you too!
Another recent study found that 91% of people feel that a well-designed slide deck would make them feel more confident when giving a presentation.
So, not only will your audience enjoy your presentation and get more out of it, you’ll feel like a better presenter!
It’s a win-win!
How to make a boring presentation interesting
Like any good content, a great presentation starts with great planning. You can’t just throw something together and expect it to work. Here are some essential ways you can ensure your presentation will be effective, informative, and captivating.
1. Structure your presentation
The best presentations should tell a story. And you can’t tell an effective story if you don’t know for sure how it starts, builds, and ends.
Of course, not every story will be an epic tale. Sometimes you just need to share sales or financial data, but you should still have a point to it all. What are you sharing? Why is it important? What can your audience do with that information once they have it?
To properly structure your prsentation, first you need to know its purpose. There are four common presentation puproses, though many presentations can be a combination of two.
- To persuade.
- To inspire.
- To entertain.
For example, you may want your presentation to entertain and inspire. Or, you may want it to persuade and inform. Choose your presentation type (or types) and stick to a structure that allows you to accomplish your goal.
What ever your presentation’s purpose, it should have a beginning that introduces your topic, a middle that expands your audience’s understanding of what you’re presenting, and an end that pulls together everything you presented and offers a call to action.
To help structure your presentation, I highly recommend you use an outline. You’ll be able to layout exactly what you want to say in the order you want to say it. Plus, you’ll help ensure you don’t miss anything or go off on any weird tangents.
2. Break up complex information over multiple slides
Let’s face it. Most people put too much information on their PowerPoint slides. There’s a huge title, and then everything the presenter is going to say, verbatim. In that situation, it’s almost like you don’t need a presenter at all.
Your slides should highlight or add context to what you’re saying. If you have a lot of information to share, don’t be afraid to spread it out over multiple slides. Your slides should have white space that allows your audience to focus on what’s important.
Sometimes that might be a few words or an image or two.
Don’t fill your slides with walls of text. That almost guarantees a boring presentation.
3. Give your presentation some life with videos
Videos in a PowerPoint presentation? Yep!
One of the most common questions I see is “how to make a PowerPoint presentation interesting?”. And video is an easy way to make a dry presentation come to life.
Videos help capture your audience’s attention and can help you pace your presentation.
Strategically, videos can help you emphasize points or provide a needed break from the monotony of listening to one presenter for an hour or more.
You can use a variety of types of videos:
- Before-and-after footage to demonstrate project progress.
- Screencasts showing data results.
- Quick, informal tutorials on how to perform a task.
Adding a video is easy and there are several ways to include one. You can either upload it from your computer or embed a link to an online site. Be wary of using an online video, though. It’s a good idea to have a backup on your computer ready to go in case the venue’s wifi is spotty.
Screencasts: Your presentation video superpower
One of the best ways to use video in a presentation is a screencast. A screencast is a recording of your screen while you walk through a process, demonstrate a user interface or similar function.
hey’re like screenshots in that you can capture what’s happening on your screen (including audio), but as a video recording, not just a static image.
Need to report on project results? A screencast is a perfect solution. You can show the data and add commentary via your microphone .
Start by using your screen recording feature, set to video recording capture. Then edit the footage as needed (like cutting for time) and insert into PowerPoint.
To upload a video from your computer:
- Stop on the slide where you want the clip
- Click on the Insert tab at the top of the screen
- Go down to Video and then click on Movie from File…
4. Harness the power of animated GIFs
Animated GIFs are not just for social media anymore.
There are many practical uses for animated GIFs today. If you need a simple way to demonstrate a step-by-step process for a coworker or client, a looping GIF is a perfect tool — especially if it’s a short clip that doesn’t need audio.
They’re also great for demonstrating a process, showing cause and effect, or depicting a before-and-after comparison. And, unlike a video, there’s no need to press play with a GIF, so using one won’t slow down your presentation.
Another good use for animated GIFs in PowerPoint is for humor. Try to include an animated GIF as a bit of comic relief after a string of text-heavy slides. Everybody loves funny dogs, reactions, and movie clips.
A word of caution: Be aware of your GIF’s size. If it will be longer than 30 seconds, it’s probably better to use a video.
Adding an animated GIF into your PowerPoint is as simple as:
- Save the GIF you want to use to your desktop and navigate to your desired slide.
- Choose pictures in the Insert tab of PowerPoint and select your file.
- Click Insert or Open and then run the Slideshow to get a preview of your GIF.
With Snagit , you can create a GIF from any video and share it directly to PowerPoint.
5. Use screenshots to emphasize your point
Screenshots are valuable tools that can be used to illustrate your point as you talk about it. This allows the audience to follow along with you and connect what they hear to what they see.
A screenshot is a picture of your computer screen. This captures whatever you have up on your screen and saves it as an image file. You can then edit and insert your screenshot into your presentation.
Taking a high-quality screenshot is simplified and enhanced with Snagit . You can easily edit screenshots , like adding arrows and removing your cursor from the final image.
Start by opening Snagit, then drag the box to your parameters and lock it in.
You may want to include a screenshot if you’re referring to data, like results of a survey or analytics. You can further enhance those screenshot by adding in arrows and customized callouts. Adding in elements that highlight interesting insights adds more weight to an important point.
6. Use customized screenshots instead of stock images
As a general rule, the more unique you can make your visual elements, the better your presentation will be. Even though stock images may be appealing because of convenience, they limit your presentation’s impact.
A recent study showed that imagery can affect a person’s mood without the person even being aware. This means that inserting more vivid pictures in a presentation will have a greater impact on the viewer.
Take matters into your own hands with Snagit, which allows you to customize screen captures and images to enhance your presentation.
For instance, you can use the blur tool to focus the audience’s attention on what you want them to see. Remove distraction from the equation by blurring personally identifiable information . You can also remove image backgrounds that might clash with your presentation.
What if I need to share the slides with people who won’t attend the presentation?
Sometimes you need to share your slides with people who won’t be able to attend your presentation. Or, maybe you want to share them with people who attended so they can review them later.
If you don’t include all kinds of text and context on your slides, how will they know what you were talking about?
There are a couple of ways to deal with this.
1. Use the notes feature
PowerPoint allows you to put notes on each slide that people can read as they view your slides. The notes can also print with your deck if they decide to print it out for later viewing. You can put in whatever context is necessary so they can get everything they need out of your presentation.
2. Make a video
This is my favorite option. Rather than just following up with the slides, why not take a little extra time and record your presentation? It’s a great way to ensure your audience can understand everything they need to — whether they attended or not!
Plus, it is WAY easier than you might think.
Snagit makes it simple to record your screen and microphone as you go through your presentation. You can even add your webcam for an extra bit of personality.
Your audience will appreciate the extra effort and — as a bonus — you’ll be ready to send it out the next time you present, as well!
How to make interesting slides? Ditch your boring presentation with images and video!
We’ve all had to sit through boring PowerPoint presentations. The topic may be great, but endless slides of text are enough to make even the most exciting presentation seem like a real snoozer.
But you can do better. By embracing images and video, you can create memorable presentations that captivate your audience and leave them wanting more.
While not every presentation can be riveting, boring presentations usually boil down to two things: 1) Too much text on the slides and, 2) not enough visuals and videos. You can add a lot of interest to your presentation by using more images and videos.
Yes! It’s quite easy to add a video to PowerPoint slides. 1. Select the slide where you want to add a video. 2. Click Insert > Video > Movie from File
Try breaking up information over multiple slides to avoid too much text at once. More importantly, use more images.
Global Content Strategy Manager at TechSmith. I play a lot of golf and watch a lot of football.
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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
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Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable
Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.
You have to work hard to develop the right skills
If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.
1. Make your presentation short and sweet
With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.
JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase . You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.
2. Open up with a good ice breaker
At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:
- Tugging on their heart strings
- Dropping a bombastic statement
- Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
- Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons
You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.
3. Keep things simple and to the point
Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.
4. Use a healthy dose of humor
Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor . No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.
It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.
5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting
Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.
6. Practice your delivery
Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI , overcame speech impediments through hard work.
7. Move around and use your hands
Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.
8. Engage the audience by making them relate
Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.
9. Use funny images in your slides
Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.
10. End on a more serious note
When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.
Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com
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How to Make Boring Presentations More Interesting & Fun (10 Expert Tips)
When you take the stage for a presentation, the last thing you want to be is forgotten. If your presentation is boring, your content simply won't reach the audience.
If you want to make a presentation more interesting, our network of experts is here to help.
We've surveyed leading presentation pros to get their perspectives. Here are ten tips that any presenter can use while learning how to make a boring presentation interesting.
We'll also share some ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional presentation templates that'll make it easier to create your next presentation. So, stay tuned to learn how to make a presentation fun and interesting.
1. Less Slide Content, More Speaking Points
If there's one trap that I see rookie presenters fall into, it's this: they load their presentation slides with far too much content. To learn how to make a presentation interesting, it might be about removing slide content.
Presentation expert Miriam Plotinsky ( @MirPloMCPS on Twitter) has a great perspective on how presenters balance slides with their speaking points:
When the presenter has practiced and is confident, an overwhelming amount of information does not need to go on the slides; instead, the best content is elevated for the presentation itself.
Not sure if you've got too much content on your slides? Here's a good test that Plotinsky offers to reduce slide content:
All slides should really be speaking points... My overall thought is that people pack slides with too much text (and then proceed to read directly from the slide, which disengages their audience) because they are not prepared to present.
You're the presentation. The slides exist to support you. Don't open your presentation tool of choice as the first step!
Instead, focus your front-end work on writing the presentation, focusing on the content. Then, build slides that reiterate those points.
2. Use Animation for Effect
One of the most controversial topics when it comes to presentations is animation. Some presenters suggest that animations are too distracting, while others think it's a powerful effect.
Animation creates motion on your presentation slide. Maybe you use it to reveal a box of text as a punchline to your joke. Or, you might use animation to show a chart in motion with a critical piece of data revealed.
So, should you use animation? Suzannah Baum is a presentation expert with more than 12 years of coaching presenters and presenting herself. Here's what she's got to say about using animation effectively:
"As a presenter, you want to add a brief moment of visual interest, but then get the audience’s attention back to YOU and your message."
It's clear that Baum urges presenters to use animations as a complement to the speaker, not the focal point itself. But, it's also important to balance that usage without overwhelming the presenter, as Baum goes on to advise:
"Too many moving, spinning, pulsating or bouncing objects flying in and out of your presentation is overkill. If you overuse them, you run the very real risk of distracting your audience from your message, and simply turning them off as well.
If you're wondering how to make a presentation interesting, a bit of animation might do the trick. But be careful not to overdo it.
On Envato Tuts+, we've got tips that help you strike the right balance of using animations without distracting in PowerPoint. Check out our tutorial below:
3. Make the Most of Your Screen Real Estate
You're sitting in an auditorium with a stunning presentation screen. The presenter takes the stage and turns on their presentation. And there's an embarrassing glitch: t he presentation shows on screen but doesn't fill the entire display.
Display screens are made in a variety of sizes and aspect ratios, the proportion of width to height. When a presentation doesn't fill the screen, it's due to a mismatch between the presentation file and screen. It's sure to annoy the detail-oriented in your audience.
If you've worked at how to make a presentation interesting, don't miss out on making the most of your screen! When you set your presentation settings correctly, your finished PPTX will fill the screen. Learn how to set the proper screen dimensions with the help of our tutorial below.
4. Invest The Majority Of Your Time in Writing Great Content
Preparing a presentation is a process. It consists of many steps. How you divide your time among those steps is critical. Here are the basic steps that I divide the presentation process into:
- Research & ideation . This is where you start formulating the plan for your presentation. What are the basic ideas you want to share with an audience? What are the key points to remember?
- Writing . After you plan the ideas, write the more detailed specifics. They're the individual speaking points that support your presentation perspective.
- Presentation design . Make sure to wait until you've got your presentation's content prepared before you open your app of choice. It's easier if you already have your crucial speaking points designed before you begin to put them into slide format.
- Rehearsal and practice . After you finish your slide deck, you'll need time to rehearse and practice your delivery.
Time is limited. According to expert speechwriter Anthony Trendl , you should devote a disproportionate amount of time to the writing part of the process:
Often, speakers get lazy with the writing. "I know this stuff. I'll just speak from the heart." This can lead to shapeless rambling. Do this and you'll miss an opportunity to control your presentation strategically... You are the distinction. Your presentation should work without the slide deck.
Learn how to become an expert presentation writer with the help of these two tutorials. While some tips are specific to PowerPoint, they also contain general guidelines that can help you become an expert writer:
The advice is clear: nailing the writing stage is how to make a presentation interesting . It all starts with the content.
5. Energize the Audience
Energy is hard to measure, but easy to recognize. It's an essential part of holding an audience's attention. Learning how to make a presentation more interesting is easier when you're energetic.
Upbeat speakers build confidence in their content. If you've seen a high energy speaker like Robert Kennedy III , you know that energy is contagious. He recommends bringing energy to your presentation by arriving at your speaking engagement early.
Greet some of the participants and give them a subtle preview of who you are. This way, when you come on stage, you already have some "allies" in the audience. They will "know" you because this isn't the first time they are seeing you. Demand the audience come up to the level of energy you bring instead of you feeding off their energy.
I love this idea that Robert shares. It means that those allies that you meet early will already be in your corner and match your energy when your presentation begins.
6. Leave Presentation Design to the Professionals
Time is always in short supply. When you're asked to speak, is it the best use of your time to focus on learning slide design?
An alternative is to use designs built for you . Instead of opening PowerPoint to a blank slate staring at you, you can use ready-to-use slide designs.
But you might be wondering if this design option will break the bank. Hiring a professional must cost an arm and leg, right? Well, here's a "best of both worlds" option: use ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional presentation templates from Envato Elements . Use professionally designed templates without commissioning a design of your won.
On Envato Elements, your options are practically limitless. For a single flat rate, you unlock tens of thousands of presentation templates. That includes Keynote templates, Google Slides templates and PowerPoint templates.
See some of our favorite templates in action for a variety of leading presentation app. Each of them helps you see how to make a presentation more interesting:
The fastest way to make a PowerPoint presentation interesting is to hand off the design to others. Envato Elements is an impressive value that's sure to improve your presentation's outcome.
7. Collaborate With Others
Too often, we think of our projects as solo efforts. We feel we've got to go it alone and create all the content on our own. That doesn't have to be the case.
I'm reminded of this quote from Steve Jobs:
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."
Even if you're going to be the only presenter, you can still lean on others to help improve it. Ask for opinions, ideas, and feedback from your network before you take the stage. Here are tutorials that help you work with others via collaboration:
Specifically, you can ask a collaborator about how to make a presentation more interesting. Ask if there were any sections that felt like it lulled or lost the audience's attention.
8. Match Your Design to the Topic
We covered the power of professional PowerPoint templates but remember one point: not every design is a fit for every occasion . A marketing template simply has a different design than a template for education, for example.
Luckily, there are templates for practically every purpose. We've featured many "special purpose" templates on Envato Tuts+ that include the best ways to make your presentation stand out:
To learn how to make your presentation stand out, don't forget about the incredible variety of designs that exist. Sample the ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">best templates from Envato Elements or ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">GraphicRiver to bring a professional design to your presentation.
9. Share Follow-up Information After the Presentation
Your presentation can be the start of a conversation with your audience. You can use it to launch a sales opportunity, get to know your attendees, or grow your network.
To do that, it helps to share your contact information and give your audience follow-up information. But, don't leave your audience scrambling to take notes as you wrap up your presentation in a hurry.
Here's another great tip from Miriam Plotinsky to help you share follow-up information without shifting the burden to them to remember or write all the info:
A best practice with reducing slide content is to not just practice the presentation and only include brief bullets on the slides, but also to take all of the information being shared and make sure the audience has access to it in a packet, an e-mail, or similar.
One tip to help you learn how to make a presentation more interesting: finish it with an ask and include your audience . Here's a tutorial with even more ideas for ending your presentation with a bang:
10. Be Authentic, Be You
Rounding out our expert tips, there's one tip that takes time to master. It's the art of authenticity, bringing a personal touch to your presentation.
Learning how to make a boring presentation interesting is all about interjecting what makes you unique. It doesn't mean that you've got to make every presentation about you. The truth is that authenticity is presenting your content in a way that feels true to yourself.
So, how do you start to incorporate authenticity? Here's a great tip from Sandra Zimmer , whose presentation coaching focuses on authenticity and encourages speakers to include personal touches:
Tell stories from your personal life or professional career that help listeners understand what you are talking about. Use your stories to help make your points so they get a gut level experience.
Great presenters find ways to inject just enough of themselves so that the presentation feels like a unique experience. Blend in elements that are specific to you to add authenticity.
You Just Learned How to Make a Boring Presentation Interesting
Presentations aren't everyone's cup of tea. But you need to build skills as a presenter to excel in business or your career. It's okay if you're never passionate about public speaking; the goal is to level up your skills.
Thanks to the experts in this tutorial, you've learned techniques that show you how to make a boring presentation interesting. Once you've learned how to make a presentation exciting, put these into action, and present confidently.
If you're ready to create a presentation, why not save time by ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">downloading a template today.
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17 Ways to Create an Interactive Presentation That Stands Out
Written by: Chloe West
When you’re putting together a presentation, you want it to be engaging. Whether you’re presenting it live or embedding it on your website, you want to keep your audience entertained.
The best way to do that is by creating an interactive presentation that holds audience attention and even allows them to participate.
Sitting in a boring presentation where the speaker simply talks at their audience can make eyes glaze over and cause the speaker to lose their listener.
Adding interactivity into your presentation is the best way to spice up your speech, engage your audience and stand out from other presenters. The best part is, it doesn't have to be more work!
With these 17 ways to create an interactive presentation, you’ll be sure to grab your audience’s attention and keep them entertained throughout the entire presentation.
Here’s a short selection of 10 easy-to-edit job presentation templates you can edit, share and download with Visme. View more templates below:
Before we jump right in, let’s explain what an interactive presentation is
What is an Interactive Presentation
An interactive presentation is a dynamic type of presentation that supports increased engagement and interactions with the audience. It involves using interactive elements to create a more personal and engaging experience with your audience.
Whether you’re doing a live or pre-recorded presentation, there are various interactive tools for presentations and interactive ways to present information. It could be as simple as embedding audio and video in your presentation. Or, it could take the form of using charts, surveys, navigation, transitions, hyperlinks, hotspots and other elements in your presentation.
1 Start your interactive presentation with an icebreaker.
The first step is creating a rapport with your audience. You can do this by helping them to get to know you a little better and get to know each other as well.
The way you go about this will depend on the size of your audience. If you’re presenting in a small group setting or workshop, you can easily go around the room and have everyone share a bit about themselves.
However, if you’re speaking with a crowd or at a conference with a larger audience, it would make more sense to simply have your audience introduce themselves to a neighbor or two before you dive in.
You could ask the audience to answer a question out loud or to their neighbor, ask them to prepare a few questions about your topic or a list of things they'd like to learn, or put together a fun icebreaker game.
Here are just a few icebreaker games you can choose from for your next interactive presentation.
2 Use video clips in a slide or two.
You don’t have to be the only one talking during your presentation. Videos are one of the most effective interactive tools for presentations.
Embed a video into one of your slides to switch up your audience’s focus. With Visme, you can easily embed a YouTube or Vimeo video into your slide for your audience to view on their own or for you to feature during your presentation. Here's how you can do that.
Simply go to the Media tab in the left sidebar of your Visme editor and click on Insert Video.
Sharing video clips can be a great way to further emphasize your argument by bringing in other opinions or even to just add a break for your audience during longer presentations. You can also share a video of yourself demonstrating how to do something.
If you’re embedding the slideshow on your website, adding a video to a slide or two allows your audience to take a break from reading and jump into a different way of consuming your content.
There are so many other types of content you can embed into your presentation with Visme as well, like quizzes, surveys and more!
3 Make your interactive presentation non-linear.
Not every slideshow you create needs to simply flow from slide to slide. Get creative with it and see if it makes sense to add in a non-linear flow. So, what exactly is a non-linear presentation?
When you create links between slides so you can click around different areas of your presentation, you’re putting together a non-linear presentation.
You’re not going from slide one to slide two to slide three, and so on. Instead, you’re creating an interactive way for you and your audience to jump around your presentation.
You can create a table of contents page and link it to the slides that start each section. If your presentation is embedded, this allows your audience to navigate in their own preferred order.
It also gives your presentation a different edge from the regular flow, and can keep readers intrigued about what’s coming next.
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4 Have a Q&A session.
Want to get the audience involved? Ask them questions! This is a must-have interactive tool for presentations.
While many presenters always plan to host a Q&A at the end of their presentation for the audience to ask questions , it can go both ways.
You can easily put together a few slides where you’re asking your audience questions throughout your presentation. Before you move onto the next section, ask your listeners what they think first.
Don’t make it intimidating, like a pop quiz. A simple “What do you think about..?” can work wonders.
You can also take several breaks throughout your presentation to give the audience a chance to ask you questions. If you had them write down a few things they want to make sure they learn from you at the beginning of the presentation, this is a great time to ask.
5 Create an interactive quiz.
Take it a step further and actually create a quiz in your interactive presentation. This works well for both live and embedded presentations.
In Visme, you can link elements in your slide together so that one element appears when another element is clicked. So ask your audience a question, gather their answers and then click to expose the correct answer.
If you’re embedding the presentation, make sure you include a button that says something like “Click to see if you’re right!” so that your viewer knows they’re able to interact with the slide.
While you don’t necessarily want to use this as a way to sneakily check if your audience has been paying attention, it can be a fun way to gauge expertise in your audience and understand how much information you should cover.
6 Bring props along to your interactive presentation.
Want to really grab your audience’s attention? Want to really grab your audience’s attention? Props are also useful interactive tools for presentations.
Bringing props along with you to help you demonstrate and visually tell your story can be a great way to keep people watching and listening.
The first thing to keep in mind when deciding which props to help convey your story is that they need to be relevant. Don’t bring random props that are interesting but are a huge stretch to fit in with your content.
Instead, bring props that intrigue your audience but still make sense with the information you’re sharing.
Here’s a great example of a prop that definitely secured the audience’s full attention. Bill Gates released a swarm of live mosquitos into the audience during his TED Talk on Mosquitos, Malaria and Education.
Sanitary? Maybe not. Attention getting? You bet.
7 Tell your audience a story.
One of the most interactive ways to present information is storytelling. It’s an undeniable strategy for drawing your audience into your presentation. Even if your topic covers a lot of data, facts and statistics, your speech doesn’t have to be dry.
There are many different ways to incorporate stories into your presentation effectively.
A good story helps to create an immersive effect , bringing your audience in and making them feel like they’re a part of your presentation. It taps into their emotions, causing them to hang onto your words, making your presentation much more memorable in the long run.
Here's a great example of a presentation filled with data that still hooks the audience in with great storytelling.
8 Add an audio narrative.
You don’t have to speak the entire time. Much like videos, audio and sounds are helpful interactive tools for presentations.
In fact, sometimes, it can be nice to give yourself a break and pre-record some of your slides. This is also a great strategy to include for embedded presentations.
With Visme’s presentation maker , you are able to upload audio files that play in your slideshow. You can also record your own audio directly inside the Visme editor.
Some Visme users even create pre-recorded webinars using the software.
Adding audio into an embedded slideshow can be a great way to create an interactive presentation experience. You can add music or sound effects to slides to make them stand out. Or you can add an audio narrative that talks about your slide content in even more depth than your slide design allows.
9 Poll your audience.
Looking for other interactive ways to present information or get your audience engaged? Get your audience involved in your presentation by polling them. Give them multiple choice options to see which one is the most popular. Ask them to raise hands.
You can even use a polling software and have your audience input their answers via their smartphone and watch the results come in live on your screen.
Have fun with it. Ask your audience their favorite football team, which ice cream flavor they’d choose between vanilla and chocolate and more. This is a great way to do icebreakers, as well as break up your presentation with some mindless fun.
Of course, you can also have polls relevant to your presentation topic. Consider all of the ways you can use a poll in your next interactive presentation.
10 Include discussion questions.
If you’re still searching how to make a powerpoint presentation interactive , consider adding discussion questions in. You can break your audience up into small groups to talk about your questions or simply have them discuss it briefly with their neighbor.
Seminar presentations are the perfect setting for discussion questions, and this can also work well if you’re putting on a presentation to a group of people that are sitting at tables.
All you need to do is put a discussion question up on the board and ask your audience to go around their table with their answers. This creates an interactive environment with very little effort on your part.
11 Encourage movement in your audience.
Another way to create an interactive environment is by encouraging movement within your audience.
This can be as simple as taking an intermission during a longer presentation or giving your audience a few minutes to get up and stretch their legs.
Other methods include asking your audience yes or no questions and having them answer by raising their hands or standing up, having your audience move to different seats and introduce themselves to new neighbors, or calling people up on stage to participate.
12 Get your audience asking questions.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, having your audience take time at the beginning of your presentation to list out their questions on your topic is a great idea.
It’s a proven technique to make your PowerPoint presentation interactive.
Several times throughout your presentation, take a pause to ask for audience questions. Allow your listeners to ask questions about the slides you’ve already covered and the ones that may be coming up.
Getting your audience to ask questions, and letting them know that there will be several opportunities to do so, is a great way to ensure they continue to pay attention, take notes and write down potential questions throughout. Make sure you set some time aside at the end of your presentation for the rest of their questions.
Worried that people won’t speak up? Have a few allies in your audience that start the question asking.
No, this is not sneaky or shady. Sometimes people need a bit of encouragement, and asking a friend that you know will be attending to start off the questions can help.
13 Let your audience decide the direction.
Again, your presentation doesn’t have to be linear. You can have a slide setup with your four (or however many you have) main points and ask your audience which one they want to hear first, second and so on.
This makes it fun for the audience because they actually get to participate in the order of your presentation.
While this means you need to be extra prepared for whatever route your presentation may take, it creates a fun, interactive setting that your audience will remember for years to come.
Try a unique presentation structure like this, or one of these seven that your audience is sure to love.
14 Share a hashtag for social interaction.
If you’re speaking at an event that already has a branded hashtag, encourage your audience to tweet about your presentation using that hashtag. If you’re hosting a standalone presentation, come up with your own hashtag for your audience to use.
Your viewers can then share tidbits from your presentation as well as use the hashtag to ask questions for you to monitor and answer throughout.
Not only does this help to get your audience engaged, but it even helps to get their audiences engaged, learning about who you are, and interested in your content and presentation.
15 Add music to your interactive presentation slides.
Create a different ambiance by adding background music to your slides. Or get your audience pumped for new and exciting information with a pop song transition.
With Visme, you can easily upload audio files, including music clips, so that you can create an interactive experience for your audience. Your entire presentation doesn’t have to be centered around the sound of your voice. Adding in a music clip is a great way to refocus your audience on your content.
Plus, it can be a nice added touch in an embedded presentation.
16 Play with transitions and animations.
There are so many different ways to animate your slides , each more exciting than the next. You can animate different elements in your slides, like in the animated slideshow below.
You can also create seamless transitions between your slides by having each one of your elements slide in on its own, like in the presentation example below.
You can even add animated graphs and charts to your presentation slides. Animation should be fun, and toying with different ideas can make for great interactivity.
This is actually a big mistake that most people make while creating a presentation. If you're using a software like PowerPoint, you might go overboard with all the different options you have. Use a tool like Visme so you can access handpicked, proven animation and transition styles, like in the examples shown above.
Just remember to be consistent with your animations and transitions. Keep the same look and feel throughout your entire presentation rather than a million different animation types.
17 Use data visualization in your interactive presentation.
Last, but certainly not least, use data visualization to showcase your information in an engaging and easy-to-understand format.
Whether you’re a data expert, business leader, or trainer, data visualization is a staple. It’s one of the most interactive ways to present information, especially when detailing with figures and statistics.
Data visualization can be anything from a chart or graph that visually represent actual statistics and numbers to an icon or graphic that represents words.
Visualizing your points can be a great way to argue your point, and creating charts, graphs and other figures helps your audience digest your content that much quicker and more easily.
Plus, Visme offers tons of ways to visualize data within your presentation slides.
Choose from one of our many data visualization tools, such as animated charts, graphs and data widgets, to start visualizing your facts and figures in a more interactive format.
Get started with your own interactive presentation.
Before now, you were probably thinking of which option you will use for your presentation to your audience. We shared a few interactive tools for presentations and other interactive ways to present information.
So now you see? Your next presentation doesn’t have to be boring and predictable. By incorporating these interactive presentation ideas, your audience will be engaged and their phones will be put away.
Visme offers tons of interactivity features right within our presentation software . Sign up and create a free account today to start trying them out.
Did you find this article helpful? Which interactive presentation feature is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
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About the Author
Chloe West is the content marketing manager at Visme. Her experience in digital marketing includes everything from social media, blogging, email marketing to graphic design, strategy creation and implementation, and more. During her spare time, she enjoys exploring her home city of Charleston with her son.
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9 Ways To Turn a Boring Topic Into An Engaging Presentation
Hey! Wake up!
Do you have to present on a boring topic?
Let’s do something about that!
The first thing you need to know is that your topic is fine!
Initially, almost all my client’s say that their subjects are boring, and other people have more interesting topics. Whether they are presenting about Marketing, Economics, Biotechnology, Big Data, Quality Assurance, Deep Learning Algorithms, or Sales, they always point outside to other fields and departments and say that others have more interesting topics.
If I buy into their premises, then there will be no interesting topics on this whole earth.
That’s why I share the belief of the English philosopher, G.K. Chesterton, that there are not any dull topics out there; there are only disinterested audiences.
That’s closer to the truth. So, instead of blaming your subject for being boring, you can start to look for ways to stir your audience’s interest (and awaken their minds.)
If your topic is not perceived as hot and sexy enough, then you need to speak about it with more confidence, authority, and conviction and soon people will be interested. Think about it like this: if Tobacco Companies sold smoking cigarettes as sexy, I am very sure you can sell your topic too.
Here are some ways to help you get your audience interested in your topic:
1- Start with why
How you start your presentation will determine if people listen to you or not. Two of the big questions your audience members have when they are in the room with you is “Why am I here?” “Why is this is important to me?”
If you don’t quickly tell them why they should care about the topic; then the audience will focus on other items they deem more important.
Simon Sink started a whole movement based on the idea that companies that explain the why of their product end up on top of the food chain. He stated in his famous Ted talk that the fundamental difference between the “Apples” of the world and everyone else is that Apple always starts with “why.”
Sinek based his idea on the fact that people are starving for meaning and relevance. I add that we live in a busy and noisy world, and your audience is careful with their time and attention. If you don’t show them the reason they should listen, then they will tune you out.
Now, starting with why does not mean that you forget about the why throughout the presentation. You have to keep connecting your topic to your audience’s interests throughout the talk.
Remember, your audience is always listening to one radio station: WIFM . What’s In it For Me. And to keep them interested in the topic, you have to keep tying your topic back to their interests.
2- Be interested in your topic
If you think your topic is boring, then how can you expect anyone else to like it when you present.
People will detect your lack of passion, disinterest, and insecurities about the topic. Your disinterest is like a virus that spreads and infects everyone around you.
Besides, even if you hint that your topic is boring, you will be missing out on an enormous influence phenomena: It’s called Social Curiosity Driver.
The Social Curiosity Driver tells us that if other people show interest in something in front of you, then we will get curious too.
Example, you are walking down the street, and you see ten people staring and pointing at the sky with amazed looks on their faces.
Would you be interested in finding out what they are looking at?
Of course, it’s human nature.
Now imagine leveraging that same phenomenon in your presentations.
Next time you present get interested in your topic and don’t fake it; just tap into real interest , and you will see how this will peak the curiosity of your audience. They will be sitting there, saying to themselves, “I don’t know what she sees in the topic, but there must be something interesting here.”
Social Curiosity Driver is a biologically hardwired phenomena. Don’t miss out on it.
Remember, if you can’t get yourself interested in what you are talking about, there is no way you will get your audience to be interested.
3- Let your personality shine through
Even, if you topic is boring – which is not.
Don’t be a boring person yourself.
Nearly every day, people ask you what you do for a living, you engage in conversation about your work, and maybe tell work-related anecdotes.
Sometimes our preconceived notions about how to put together and give a presentation can interfere with the important and simple goal of being interesting.
Don’t be constricted by a particular telling of the story on the slides. Be yourself. Interject anecdotes that support your talk. Add context with interesting “did you know” facts.Look your topic up on Wikipedia, and you might find out something you never knew before.
For example, if you’re talking about cash vs. accrual accounting, did you know that U.S. tax authorities started accepting accrual methods in 1916? That means 2016 is the 100th anniversary of accrual! Pretty exciting stuff! I am not in accounting, and I find that fascinating as an entrepreneur.
Your topic is not boring, and you are not boring.
Somehow, when I was an engineer, I bought into the misleading cultural premise that engineers are not exciting; that they are boring people. Honestly, I bought into it because it allowed me to be lazy and not have to try too hard to make my topic interesting to my audience.
Please don’t make the same mistake. Whatever you do for a living can be fascinating. You just have to put some effort into it.
Nowadays, I work with so many professionals, directors, and C-level executives from many industries, and when I see them put just a little bit of effort, they turn into superstar presenters and the go to people in their organization to represent the whole company.
4- There is no such thing as a boring topic, only boring angles
When you talk to reporters, they always use the word “angle.” The angle is how you approach and present about a subject. Reporters know the power of the angle, and that’s how they get you interested in reading their stories.
So instead of complaining about your boring topic, think, what angle should I use to get people interested in this topic.
A computer science client of mine was presenting in front of neuroscientists. Instead of jumping into his algorithms right away, he started talking about some problems neuroscientists are facing and then presented his work as a possible interesting solution to those problems. The audience was riveted instead of bored to death with algorithms. That’s an example of a good angle.
Let’s say for example your topic is doodling. Or what happens when you encounter a broken web page and get a “404” error message. Hard to imagine less interesting subjects isn’t it? Somehow “Doodlers Unite” and “404, The Story of a Page Not Found” are among a list of the 22 best TED Talks ever !
That’s an example of how Renny Gleeson found a great angle to present on the topic of 404 error messages.
TED Talks can be great examples of making any subject interesting.
Sure, many TED speakers speak on what we might think of as interesting topics like business, information technology, and public policy.
But there are hundreds and hundreds of speakers who give interesting talks on how to be a better grocery shopper, how painting a house led to a better community, and the physics of pizza.
Notice that all good Ted talks have good angles.
5- Break up the flow of the presentation
Maybe your presentation topic requires information dense, flat and “uninteresting” (or difficult to absorb) slides. One way to make this type of presentation more interesting is to break up the flow.
At appropriate points in the story, you could stop, insert an audience poll, a video, a graphic of a recent news item, or a quote relevant to the topic.
Some free or inexpensive audience polling tools work well with PowerPoint, such as Poll Everywhere , and ParticiPoll . The Tech Republic has some suggestions on others.
If a poll is not appropriate, you can utilize a variety of interactive games to make your presentation more interesting. Use interactive techniques that work with your personality.
6- Include something entirely irrelevant in your presentation
Can you guess what the image above means?
It means nothing 🙂 Just wanted to add a break to demonstrate the point below:
If your audience has a sense of humor and the occasion is appropriate, some speakers like to break up a presentation by inserting something entirely irrelevant to re-engage the audience.
For example, if the time of year/timing is right you could pick one of your favorite holiday photos and put it on the slide and speak to it. Some people add a photo of their family or a picture of their car. You could even acknowledge, “Hey I know this material is a little demanding so I thought we’d take a break and talk about Thanksgiving dinner. Ir will be a quick break to help you digest the material better.”
In the Science of Influence, this is called, “breaking state.” If people get in a bored state, the best way to get them out of it is to break that state. One of the best ways to do so is to do something completely off topic.
While this does briefly interrupt your story, it can be an effective way to rekindle the participation of audience members who may have started checking email or are otherwise losing their focus on your presentation.
It’s a great technique especially late in the afternoon when people are sleepy from lunch.
Always give a reason for the break, or when you talk about irrelevant things, otherwise, some of your audience will think you are wasting their time.
Here are some examples of reasons you can use for introducing something irrelevant to the topic:
1- “Just to give you a little break from the material, I wanted to ….”
2- “To help you compartmentalize the previous information and separate it from the rest of the talk, I would like to introduce a quick visual break….”
3- “Just to break this dense material up a little bit, I wanted to give a quick break…”
7- Take a different approach to slide design
You can make a “seemingly” flat topic more lively by taking an innovative approach to slide design.
Who doesn’t have a hard time looking at spreadsheets and bullet points for 45 minutes or an hour? What if instead, you use a historical theme for your presentation, supporting it with memorable images from the past that help supports your speaking point?
If you want to consider using images from the past, the National History Education Clearinghouse offers some great resources for finding memorable images online. And of course, there’s ever faithful Google Image Search. But with all of these, you’ll want to consider copyright implications if you give your presentation publicly or publish it.
You can even change up the color palette of your theme. The popularity of various colors has changed over the years. Here’s a blog post on historical color themes you can use to give your presentation a retro look that might fit the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t settle for the generic templates all the people in your department use. Think outside the box and use more interesting templates.
It’s a general rule of presentation design that form follows function. In other words, the data you are presenting and the concepts that you’re trying to get across are more important than the graphics. But you can use an unusual graphical concept if it does not interfere with getting your message across, and it can help give your presentation some variety and make it more interesting to your audience.
8- Offer people an Easter egg
Easter eggs are something children hunt for on Easter. But it’s also a term from the world of movies. An Easter egg is a little something the director or producer has hidden in the scene with perhaps secret or additional meaning. You could put one or more Easter eggs in your presentation.
Let me explain how you would do that. Let’s continue with the accounting example. You could start your presentation by telling people that there are three references to famous economists hidden throughout your presentation, and at the end of your talk, you’ll ask your audience if anyone found all three.
If you’re an author, you can even offer a free copy of your book to the first person to correctly identify all three references. You’d be surprised at how closely people pay attention when they are challenged to be competitive.
9- Create the illusion of a conversation to hook your audience
Your audience doesn’t want you to “speak at” them. They want you to engage them in a conversation. Since the presentation format is restrictive, you sometimes have to create the illusion of a conversation.
The best way to do that is to use rhetorical questions. These are questions that you ask and then answer on stage. Rhetorical questions create the illusion of dialog when presenting and instinctively interest your audience.
Here is a formula to use when applying rhetorical questions:
1- Make a point
2- Ask a question about the point
3 – Answer
Here is an example that I use:
1- Make a point: Public Speaking is hard.
2- Ask a question about the point: So why is public speaking hard?
3 – Answer: The answer is not because we are stupid. It’s because we are conditioned all our lives to think that it’s hard. Since childhood, we have been conditioned not to speak up in class, not to challenge authority and not to make eye contact with strangers.
And after all, that, as adults we are expected to drop years of conditioning, stand up, make eye contact, and speak up to give presentations in front of groups of strangers.
Using rhetorical questions along with open ended and closed ended questions will turn your topic into an engaging presentation. When your audience feels that they are active participants in your presentation they will get a sense of ownership in the topic and that alone will keep them interested.
How to Make a “Boring Topic” Interesting? Leverage available tools and practices to interest people in your topic. After all, there are no boring subjects only disinterested minds. Figure out how to re-interest those minds and you can become a fascinating person in your peer group at work.
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Hugh culver, 10 easy ways to make any powerpoint presentation awesome.
This post was updated in 2023.
It was 20 minutes before lunch, my client was frantically looking at the clock, and the audience was squirming. We had suffered through endless forgettable PowerPoint slides and were all hoping for a merciful end. That’s when the presenter announced, “I see I’m running out of time, so I’ll just hurry through my last 30 slides.”
We’ve all suffered through slide shows with long lists of unreadable bullets, unnecessary YouTube clips, and overuse of graphics. Instead of holding our attention and making their point even stronger, each slide distracts the audience with more content they don’t need. Bad slides are agnostic. You can use PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, Google Slides, or hold up a piece of paper – it’s all a distraction if you don’t do it well.
Done well, a thoughtfully prepared slide deck can be the perfect slide dish for your full meal presentation. Done poorly and your audience will feel like they made one too many trips to the buffet table. This post will help you do it well.
For the first years of my speaking career, I presented with 35mm slides. You know, the photographs framed by cardboard that got jammed in the projector? That was me – hauling out the projector, clicking in the carousel, and praying that tonight it would all work. I soon learned that the more slides I showed the less the audience listened to me. So I cut back on the slides. I also noticed that when I switched to a black screen (see #9) the audience turned all their attention to me. So I practiced fading to black whenever I told a story or had an important point to make.
How I started
When I switched to PowerPoint I suddenly had a candy shop full of treats to sweeten my presentations with. And I started making all the same mistakes again: too many slides, too much content on each slide, and too distracting. After every presentation I always do a quick debrief – what worked, what needs to change? And slowly I developed a checklist for slide presentations.
I have shared with checklist with hundreds of speakers to help put the spotlight on them. Some were designing a new speech, some were preparing for a webinar and others needed slides to back up a video presentation. In every case, this checklist made their presentation better. They sold more products, got more referrals, and, in most cases, spent a lot less time working on their slide deck.
If you’ve ever struggled to create interesting slides or worry your slides are too wordy or you have too many of them, this will help.
Here are my 10 easy ways to make any PowerPoint presentation awesome.
1. Build your slides last
This might be the most important rule on the list. Don’t build your slide deck until you build your presentation.
You could be tempted to start monkeying with slides early in your speech writing process – after all, it’s a fun way to procrastinate from all that hard thinking – don’t. Building your slide deck before you build your presentation is like building a road before you know where it’s going.
Your slides are there to ADD to a well-designed speech, not to replace it.
2. Don’t try to replace you
People come to hear you. If you are launching your service on a webinar, they want to know how this solution has helped you and whether is it right for them. If you are delivering a keynote speech or workshop, they want a glimpse into your solutions that can help move them forward in their work or in life.
Fancy transitions, superfluous video clips, and endless bullet points will get your audience’s attention, but take their attention off of you. Every time you hit the clicker the audience leaves you and goes to the screen.
Your goal for every presentation is to deliver the goods, not the slides.
3. Use a consistent theme
We are easily distracted and confused. That’s why brands always anchor advertising on their unique colors, fonts, slogan, or a jingle. They know that consistency in their brand theme builds recognition and puts more attention on the message. You should do that with your slides.
Start with a simple, white background and san serif fonts.
A consistent, simple theme helps your audience focus on the content of each slide. Watch TED talks that have gone viral to see how simple a slide theme can be, like the ones by Dan Pink The puzzle of motivation (30M views), and Shawn Achor The happy secret to better work (25M views).
4. More images, less text
Want to quickly reenergize a tired slide deck? Make your images larger ( in this post I share where to get free images ) and reduce the text size. Remember, the theme in this post is that you are the presentation, not your slides.
Your brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text. When you use images (and less text) you allow your audience to process the image without distracting them away from your powerful story, or making a critical point. Like subtle mood music in the background of a dramatic movie scene, images can augment and enhance what you are saying without stealing the show.
5. One story per slide
When I started using PowerPoint I would have 60 to 80 slides for a 60-minute speech. It was a lot of work to prepare each deck and when I was deep into the speech I would sometimes forget where I was and have to jump forward a couple of slides.
Then it became 30-35 slides and I could breathe easier, knowing that fewer clicks meant less to worry about. As my confidence grew it became 10-12 slides and each slide became a key part of storytelling or point-making—they had to earn their place.
I might use a slide as a backdrop to a story or for a short list that supports a lesson I’m delivering. Either way, it’s always on ‘story’ per slide. If I don’t need a slide, I fade to black (#9).
But, I always stick to one story per slide.
6. Reveal one bullet at a time
This is an easy one – reveal one bullet at a time. The function of bullets is to reinforce (not replace) what you are delivering. That’s why they need to be short (see the 2/4/8 rule, below). A good bullet point is complete on it’s own, but much better when combined with a live presentation of it. Here’s an example from a list of (very wordy) time management strategies:
- Infrequent visits to your Inbox give you more time for deep work
- time blocking allows you to protect time for important work
- the Pomodoro technique can help you focus with fewer distractions
A better list – like one you might use on a PowerPoint slide – would be:
- visit your Inbox less often
- block time for important work
- the Pomodoro technique helps you focus
To reveal one bullet at a time in PowerPoint, right-click on your text box, select Custom Animation > Add Entrance Effect and then choose the effect you want. In Keynote, click Animate > Build in and choose the effect you want.
7. Leave the fireworks to Disney
It’s great that you know how to turn text into flames and make images spin with the click of your mouse – but leave those fireworks to Disney. Your job is to make your content the star of the show. Every time you haul the audience’s attention away to some animation you lose a truckload of opportunity to help them.
Your slides can still be amazing and helpful, but that should always be secondary to your primary purpose of helping people. Simple transitions, clean, san serif fonts, and large, attractive graphics trump PowerPoint tricks, every time.
8. The 2/4/8 rule
When I am advising other speakers I often don’t know their topic—certainly not as well as they do. So I rely on certain rules I have developed over many years. For slide decks, I use my 2/4/8 rule. Here’s how it goes…
- about every 2 minutes I have a new slide (that’s 30 slides for a 60-minute speech),
- no more than 4 bullets per slide, and
- no more than 8 words per bullet.
Just like any recipe, you can mess with the ingredient a bit. If your content is more technical, you might need more slides. Sometimes I need 5 or 6 bullets. I use the 2/4/8 rule to remind me that slides are there to support what I have to say, not replace me.
9. Fade to black
The last time I was shopping for a car, I noticed the salesperson had a clever technique. While he asked how I liked the car and if I had any questions, he kept his sales offer face-down on the table. Because there were no other distractions, he had my full attention. And when it was time to reveal his offer, it was much more dramatic (so was the price!) Use the same technique with your slides.
When you fade to black you regain your audience’s attention. For example, after I present a solution, I’ll fade to black while I expound on how to apply that solution in my audience’s work/life. When I’m finished, I turn black off and go to the next point. Or if I’m halfway through a story I’ll fade to back before the punchline so I know I have everyone’s attention.
It’s no different than a close-up scene in a movie—the director wants you to focus only on the speaker. Note that if you are shopping for a slide remote, be sure that yours has the black screen feature.
10. When in doubt, delete
This might be the most advice I can leave you with. When in doubt, delete it.
There is a weird attraction to more. Authors add more pages thinking it makes the book more valuable. Sales people who talk too much miss the opportunity to ask for the sale. And presenters add more slides thinking it will make them look better. Wrong.
When you are doing the final edits on your slide deck, the ultimate question you should be asking about each slide is, “Will it make my speech better?” If not, dump it.
Remember, nobody will miss what isn’t there. Also fewer slides allows you more time for side stories, spontaneous thoughts or even time for Q&A.
I’ve said it numerous times in this post, but it’s worth repeating. You are the show, not your slides. More slides means more time your audience is not paying attention to you. Fewer (and better) slides means you have more time to build rapport, share memorable stories, explain your solutions and motivate your audience to action. You are there for a reason. Now go and deliver.
One last thing. Spend the $80 and pack a remote (with spare batteries.) Nothing’s worse than watching a speaker repeatedly lean over, hunt for the right key, and then peck away to advance the slides.
If you enjoyed this article, here is more about presentation skills:
How the experts create world-class PowerPoint Slides (and you can too) PowerPoint Primer – the only 3 slides you’ll ever need How to add video to PowerPoint and Keynote like a pro
Slide by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash
About Hugh Culver
I’m a recovering over-achiever who researches, writes, and speaks on how to think better, plan smarter, and act on what really matters.
How to create an interactive presentation and keep viewers engaged
For most people, the word “presentation” is synonymous with boredom. Pair it with “business” or “educational” and you make it even worse. Before they even sit down to watch, your audience has flashbacks to that endless chemistry PowerPoint in the 10th grade. Yikes. But here’s the thing: online presentations don’t have to be mind-numbing. Like most trends that started in 1990, they just need a makeover.
According to the experts , the best way to make your presentation more interesting, engaging, and effective is to make it interactive . It’s not even that hard to do. With the right tools, you can make your presentation interactive in just a few minutes.
What is an interactive presentation?
Unlike a static presentation, an interactive presentation includes opportunities for your audience to get involved in real-time. This can mean including video clips for discussion, live polls or quizzes, in-person activities, or incorporating stories to create a more engaging experience.
In a standard presentation, audience members watch something. In an interactive presentation, they do something. And when we learn by doing , we retain material significantly better .
There are tonnes of benefits to making your presentation interactive.
- Boost engagement: interactive elements make your presentation more engaging. When your audience knows they’re going to be a part of the experience, they’re more likely to stay present and focused throughout.
- Connect with your audience: the lecture format is one-sided. The presenter becomes the talking head, and everyone else is free to doze off. Making your presentation interactive transforms the lecture into a conversation, allowing you to connect with the other people in the room.
- Share the workload: interactive presentations make presenting easier. When you toss questions or activities to the crowd, you share the burden of transmitting the information. More work from the audience can mean less work for you.
- Personalised delivery: because they’re informed by participants, each interactive presentation is unique. That means you can tailor your presentation to the people you’re speaking to, personalising the experience to make it that much more meaningful.
The main types of interactive presentation
Before we get into how to build the perfect interactive presentation, you've first got to decide what type of presentation you want to run.
Is it formal? Entertaining? A live webinar or a delayed video uploaded to YouTube?Are you speaking to investors for your non-profit , prospective clients, or just trying to convince your partner to let you splash out some cash on a new TV?
The type of presentation you're running influences everything from your tone to the kind of online tools you might use to build it.
Your interactive elements should be relevant to the type of presentation you’re giving. You might include a Kahoot poll if you teach third-grade history, but you’ll need something a little more professional for a sales pitch.
8 ways to make your presentation interactive with Paperform
Paperform is a form builder first and foremost, but you can also use our tools as an interactive presentation software. Just treat each page of your form as a slide to create a custom presentation your audience will love.
It’s not a replacement for Powerpoint or Prezi, but it’s a great way to bridge some gaps and add interactive elements to your presentation. One of our own, Josh, uses Paperform to help his son Jesse create presentations for school.
Most recently, Jesse and his dad made an incredible presentation on the Amazon, complete with wild jungle GIFs, interactive animal quiz questions, and plenty of surprising jungle facts. We made this quick replica to show you how to use Paperform as an interactive presentation software.
When you host your slides on Paperform, you get access to all the sweet features that make our digital suite of tools so unique, like conditional logic , advanced calculations , heaps of design options, and built-in robust data analytics.
Making an effective presentation shouldn’t be a chore. Let’s walk through eight interactive presentation ideas you can try out today, and how you can implement them with Paperform.
1. Make use of visual elements
There’s nothing worse for your presentation design than endless blocks of text. Nobody wants to be lulled to sleep with a bedtime story about this quarter's financial goals.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re going to say it, you don’t need to write it. The text should be used to remind you of your key points and topics, not to explain them in detail. That’s what you’re there to do. Try to use graphs, charts, or visualisations of data whenever possible.
Paperform it: If you’ve collected your data via a Paperform poll or survey , we’ll make the visuals for you. Just head to our built-in analytics dashboard and download custom graphs created from your form results. And if you create your interactive presentation slides with Paperform, you can also make use of our native integration with Unsplash and Giphy. Just think: all the royalty-free images and GIFs you might want, all without leaving the editor. You can even edit the images with our built-in editor.
Our integration with Adobe creative cloud allows you to import your branding and colour palette automatically, so creating personalised presentations is easy. And once you make one you like, you can share it as a template with the rest of your team so everyone can start from the same square one.
If you’re not using Paperform to host your presentation, you can always find your visuals separately and incorporate them into your slides on Prezi or Powerpoint. Wherever you host your slideshow, aim to have at least one visual for every two slides.
2. Start with icebreakers to set the tone
Icebreakers aren’t just for summer camp and blind dates. You can use them to build rapport, set the tone for what's to follow, and show that you have created a safe space that encourages audience participation. They can even be—dare we say?—fun.
When picking your icebreakers, try to be creative and topical. It’s a great opportunity to introduce audience interaction and gain some information that might be relevant to your presentation.
Let’s say you’re giving a presentation to your colleagues about the success of a recent advertising campaign. You could ask everyone what their favourite commercial is and why. Down the line, you can return to these answers for a brainstorming session about your next ad campaign.
If you're working with a small group (say 5-10 people) you can chat with your audience directly. If you’re working with a larger audience, you can ask folks to chat in pairs or send small groups off in virtual breakout rooms.
Paperform it: With Paperform, you can send out your icebreaker as a quick, interactive poll. Include it within the presentation itself, or make a separate one and add the link to your slideshow software of choice.
However you choose to share it, your respondents can answer your Paperform in a few clicks, and you can view the results in real-time. It’s a constructive way to connect efficiently with your audience when presenting remotely.
3. Find your narrative
A story can be a great hook. Draw people in with an engaging personal anecdote, and return to it throughout the presentation. It’ll keep them engaged from the beginning, and recenter them along the way if they drift off.
Take our ad campaign presentation. You might start off with a short story about how much you loved Frosted Flakes commercials as a kid, and how you went as Tony the Tiger for Halloween one year. You can return to elements of this story throughout (maybe even a photo of the infamous costume).
Why use stories in a business presentation? For the same reason we tell fables to children. Stories to help us learn. When there’s a narrative behind your presentation, your audience will be inherently more connected to it, and more likely to remember what you say.
Paperform it: Incorporating a story can be done in just about any presentation software. But if you want to get really creative with it, you could use Paperform to build your narrative into an escape room .
Just pick your story, create a few puzzles that relate to it, and use our advanced conditional logic to create a lock and key or branching-style escape room. You can present the escape room alongside your presentation, or hide the clues within the presentation itself to keep your participants hanging on every slide.
4. Let your audience decide the presentation order
Most presenters use a slide deck to support their presentations. Whether you use Powerpoint, Prezi, Google Slides, or heaps of cardstock like Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually , slide decks are a great way to keep yourself on track. There are three main ways to progress through a slide deck.
- Standard navigation: this is the presentation you’re probably familiar with. A presenter clicks through their slides in real time, but the order is predetermined.
- A video presentation: a linear presentation where slides automatically play one after the other. This is great for presentations that will be inserted into a website or landing page , and not necessarily accompanied by a live person.
- Flexible navigation: this kind of presentation is influenced by the audience and the presenter. The presenter clicks through slides but can skip around freely and use interactive elements like buttons, clickable images, and direct download links .
Paperform it: Paperform can help with all three. For standard navigation, simply add each “slide” as a new page in your Paperform, and progress through the pages as needed. Your respondents can do this, too.
Just send the link and allow latecomers or no-shows to progress through the presentation on their own time.
You can do the same thing with video presentations. Just add your recordings on individual pages, and include a short quiz after each video. With a little conditional logic, you can block viewers from progressing until they answer the comprehension questions correctly.
And then there’s the funky one: flexible navigation. It’s a great way to keep viewers engaged and on their toes. By using conditional logic, you can allow your audience members to alter the course of the presentation in real-time based on their feedback.
Take the ad campaign presentation, for example. You could ask folks what they would rather go over first: Instagram or YouTube stats. If they go with Instagram, you would click that option and your presentation would navigate you to the appropriate page.
Your audience doesn't need to (and probably shouldn't) decide the order of your entire presentation. But adding just one or two opportunities for viewer choice can make a huge difference in engagement levels.
5. Add polls and quizzes for gathering feedback
Polling audience members shows them that their opinion matters. It's also a fantastic way to get a sense of how the presentation is going, and whether attendees are understanding the topic.
Consider adding a true or false question with a surprising answer, or a quick pop quiz at the end of each section. If you’re presenting in person, you can answer the questions yourself based on feedback from the audience, like voting by applause or raised hands.
If your presentation is virtual, you can have respondents answer the poll on their own devices, either in the presentation itself or via a separate link.
Paperform it: Paperform makes creating polls and quizzes easy. We have over 25 field types to choose from, so you can gather the right type of data every time. You can send out a lightning-fast yes or no poll, or ask your officemates to rank all the Harry Potter movies. We’ve got ranking and rating fields for that express purpose.
All Paperforms are mobile-optimised, so you can be sure your presentation polls and quizzes will look great on any device. And if you’re making a longer quiz but don’t want to overwhelm respondents , you can toggle on guided mode to display one question at a time.
Form a better life now.
6. share a hashtag to promote social interaction.
We live in the era of the second-screen experience. The chances are that while you're speaking, folks are simultaneously tweeting, emailing, or operating their entire small business on their phones.
Sure, that means your audience might be distracted. But fighting the current by asking them to turn their phones off is a losing battle. If you can’t beat them, join them.
Try making a branded hashtag to encourage participants to engage with your presentation on social media. It's a combination of word-of-mouth marketing, event promotion and social interaction all rolled into one.
When done well, social hashtags can:
- Encourage people to promote your event on social media
- Give attendees a way to share further discussions online
- Allow you to look at tagged responses to analyse customer opinions
- Draw attention to your presentation
- Keep attendees engaged with the material
Paperform it: Paperform integrates with all your favourite social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. With this connection in place, you can automatically post a tweet when someone submits your form.
You could use this integration to give folks a shout-out when they complete your digital presentation at home. Just include a short Paperform at the end of your presentation, ask for their handle and permission to shout them out online, and have a congratulatory post shared on your platform automatically.
It’s a great way to celebrate your audience members and boost awareness about your online presentation or webinar at the same time.
7. Include multiple Q&A opportunities
Sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones. If you want to know how your audience is going, just ask them. Q&A sessions give you the chance to do just that.
The trouble with traditional Q&A sessions is that they come too late into the presentation, and are too short to be meaningful. How often have you sat through an hour-long presentation, only to be asked if you have any questions at the very end?
One-time, end-of-presentation Q&As are not ideal. It’s easy for participants to forget their questions, and it puts pressure on them to make their time count.
There’s a better way: incorporate several, shorter Q&A sessions throughout your presentation. At the end of each section, take some time to answer audience questions and listen to audience input.
When your participants know they’ll be able to ask questions regularly, they’re more likely to stay present with each section. It also takes some of the pressure off and gives more shy participants several chances to consider raising a hand.
Paperform it: If you host your presentation on Paperform, you can create a customised Q&A slide that you can use at the end of each section of your presentation.
Worried about time? Embed the video of a favourite song, and allow participants to ask questions while it plays. You get yourself a built-in timer, and you break up your presentation with some music clips. Win-win.
8. Improve based on participant feedback
You might have your own markers of a successful presentation—whether people laughed, followed you on Twitter, or sent you an email saying how much they loved it. That's all well and good, but it doesn’t give you a lot of tangible data . The best way to measure the success of your presentation is with a post-event survey .
Leave your audience with one final moment of interaction by sending out a feedback form after your presentation. They get to share their thoughts, and you gain actionable insights on how you can improve for your next presentation.
Paperform it: Paperform has over 45 feedback form templates for you to choose from, each made by one of our in-house experts. Of course, you can make your own from scratch, or pick one of our other 650+ ready-made templates just because you like the style.
Whether you’re looking for a quick CSAT rating or lengthy open-text responses, Paperform can help you do it. Our no-code platform is designed to be easy to use, without skimping on all the advanced features you want.
Level up your presentation today
By connecting with your audience through interactive experiences, original content, and thoughtful slide design, you can put an end to boring presentations. Whether you’re working on your next pitch for the sales team or creating an interactive webinar for your website, Paperform can help you do it.
Our software is designed to be versatile, intuitive, and genuinely helpful. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to automate more of the mundane through our 3,000 direct and Zapier integrations, as well as our built-in shortcuts like automatic emails.
Want to give it a go for yourself? Try Paperform today with our 14-day free trial , and discover what you can create.
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