10 Ways to Create an Interactive Presentation People Won't Forget

/ 12 min read
Aili Olichney

Many of our minds numb at the mention of the word “presentation." You might flashback to an endless Powerpoint presentation you sat through in school, or an old teacher at the front of the room trying to navigate the computer, or maybe a more recent, yet still mind-numbingly dull work event.

Between high school flashbacks and bland work experiences, presentations—whether you're hosting or attending one—don't exactly make most people jump for joy. But we have news for you: presentations don't need to induce sleep.  

The key? Interaction. In this guide, we'll show you how to craft the perfect interactive presentation, so next time it's your turn to present you'll have your audience hanging on your every word.

What is an interactive presentation?

An interactive presentation is any type of presentation that includes opportunities for increased engagement and interaction with the audience.

This often takes the form of a video presentation alongside a slideshow that incorporates original content, charts, real-time surveys and other elements.

Interactive presentations aren't complex. It's not about the craziest transitions, or the most flashy tools—it's about leaving behind static, outdated presentation techniques to create a more personal, engaging experience with your audience.

Presentations occur in two kinds of formats—live presentations (known as webinars when held online) and those that are pre-recorded and uploaded or sent to the audience at a later date. Interactive elements can be used in both cases.

The benefits of an interactive presentation

So why should you take the time to create an interactive presentation when you can just type up a script and recite it into your webcam? Well, because there are range of benefits, including:

1. Increased engagement

You want your audience to make it to the end, right? To actually spark interest and make an impact? With interactive presentations you can keep your audience engaged and keep their attention until the very end.

2. Connect with your audience

By engaging with your audience through Q&As, text chats or pop-up surveys, you can get real-time feedback on what is (or isn't) working. This gives you an idea about what topics you need to cover and whether your audience is learning what you're trying to teach them.

3. Better information retention

When a presenter is just talking at you it's all too easy to get distracted. With an interactive presentation you can capture and hold your audience's attention by using interactive audiovisual aids.

4. Personalised delivery

With better engagement and connection with the folks in attendance comes the feeling that you've put together a unique experience just for them. By asking for feedback through Q&As and live polls you can better align the content of your presentation with that specific audience's needs.

5. A more enjoyable experience

Presentations that involve the audience, capture their attention and use interactive elements to teach subjects in an engaging way are just outright more fun than static, boring alternatives. This is good for your ego as a presenter, but more importantly, it ensures people will remember your presentation.

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The main types of interactive presentation

Before we get into how to make sure you 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, co-workers, or just trying to convince your partner to let you splash out some cash on a new TV?

Type Goal Example
Informative Sharing information in a concise, educational manner. The goal here is to share information without any frills. An internal sales report presentation given to your colleagues.
Instructive This goes beyond stating facts to delve deep on a specific topic. Folks attend this type of presentation to gain a better understanding about a concept, product or idea. A presentation onboarding new employees.
Persuasive This presentation type attemps to either sell something to the audience or persuade them to take action. A startup pitching their idea to investors.
Inspirational Presentations with that aim to inspire action or changed behaviour in the audience. This often involves storytelling and is used to boost morale in the workplace. TEDTalks are the most clear-cut example of this.
Outcome-related This type of presentation is useful when you need to find a solution to a problem, or decide how to achieve a certain outcome. Business and government meetings.

The type of presentation you're running ultimately influences everything from your tone to the kind of language you use with your audience. The presentation type has to align with your goal and what your audience expects.

10 ways to make your interactive presentation stand out

Whether you’re looking to make your first ever interactive presentation or could use some new ideas for added interactivity in your tenth keynote address, here’s a list to get your ideas flowing.

1. Consider a co-presenter

Before you start putting your presentation together, consider whether you would benefit from adding a co-presenter. Not only does this bring another perspective to the topic, it gives you someone else to play off.

A second host or co-presenter turns a static presentation to an active discussion. All of a sudden people aren't just listening to you speak over Zoom or on a stage—they're watching two people converse, which is much more engaging.

Co-presenters and guests are best suited to presentations on a specific topic. Let's say you're giving a webinar on how to do market research—you might invite an expert on to discuss their methods and compare and contrast your strategies.

💡 Tip: Inviting a co-presenter also cuts down on your workload while actually adding valuable information and perspectives to your presentation. Don't have a network? Just search for people in relevant roles on LinkedIn and send them a message.

2. Start with icebreakers to set the tone

The first few seconds of any presentation can be awkward. But you can make things a bit easier for both you and your audience by making an effort to break the ice.  

Giving people a chance to actively engage in the first moments of your presentation is important. It helps build rapport, set the tone for what's to follow, and show that you have created a safe space that encourages audience participation.

If you're working with a small group (say 5-10 people) you can ask audience members to introduce themselves, or break up into groups with a preset discussion prompt. If you're presenting to a larger audience, ask folks to chat in pairs.

Icebreakers can be silly and off-topic or aimed at stimulating a specific idea about the topic you'll be presenting. The strategy you select depends  on your presentation style and tone.

3. Remember every interactive presentation tells a story

Whether you're presenting market research data or giving a motivational speech, all presentations tell a story of some description. However, here we're referring to using an actual story.

A story is a great hook to begin your presentation. Draw people in with an engaging anecdote or story, then you'll have them hanging on every word from the very start.

There's a reason cavemen and women used to gather around the campfire to listen to people tell stories—they're entertaining. Stories elicit empathy. Weaving a narrative is a great way to get audiences to care about what you're trying to teach them.

The key is to find a story with a theme that's entertaining and appropriate to the topic and the audience. This could be a personal anecdote or something you've found elsewhere—as long as it ties in to the subject of the presentation.

4. Let your audience decide the presentation order

Most presenters use a slide deck to support their presentation. It's the most basic strategy to add interactivity to your presentation and display information visually. There are three different navigation modes you can use:

  • 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.
  • Standard navigation: where you can navigate to the next slide when you're ready. This is the usual method when giving a presentation on a video call, or in person.
  • "Microsite mode": This allows you to transition between pages with more freely, linking pages to each other through elements like buttons, images and other visual prompts. This option is great for keeping things dynamic (and keeping your audience on their toes!)

Willing to think outside the box? Take a lesson from choose your own adventure books and build some flexibility into your presentation order. Give viewers multiple branching paths or hold a quick opinion poll to let folks choose which section comes next.

Your audience doesn't need to (and probably shouldn't) decide the order of everything. But adding just one or two opportunities for viewer choice can make a huge difference in engagement levels.

5. Incorporate the element of surprise

When something is too easy, people get bored. Quickly. While sitting in an audience might sound like a passive role, it's far from it—the best interactive presentations are active experiences.

One way you can do this, particularly in digital presentations, is by hiding pieces of information and visual elements within the presentation itself. This offers a welcome break from clicking through slides or scrolling through a PDF, and is a handy tool for online courses.  

Tools like Genially (below) are dedicated to creating interactive and animated content, allow you to insert videos, audio and images that you can hide in expandable windows.

You can do anything from adding YouTube clips and product models to menus, or any other visual aids  you need.

Interactive click through earth quake preparedness website. Office with 4 people working.(Image Source: Genially)

You can tuck supporting information, infographics and visual aids into hidden windows or tool tips that folks have to track down. By making people work for the information, not only do you keep them engaged, you make it more likely they'll actually retain it.

As an added bonus, keeping peripheral information out of plain sight also keeps your slide design looking neat and tidy.

6. Add polls and quizzes for live feedback

Polling audience members show them that their opinion matters. It's also a fantastic way to get a gauge on how the presentation is going, and whether folks attending are engaging with the topic.

Paperform is a great tool you can use to make your presentation more engaging. From fun polls and quizzes, to dynamic feedback forms, to powerful surveys complete with conditional logic, Paperform gives you the tools you need to build all kinds of interactive additional elements for your next presentation.

Plus, all of Paperform's creations are mobile-optimized, and can be viewed using guided mode. Guided mode makes mobile survey taking even easier by displaying questions individually. Once you've made your creations, you can use Paperform's robust built in analytics system to go over the results in real time.

You could make something as advanced and interconnected as you like with their 3,000+ supported app integrations, or something as simple as a quick rating scale:

Not sure how to format your questions? No worries, there are over 650 fully customizable templates waiting for you. You can ask a simple question related to a subject you've covered, capture feedback in real-time, or just break the ice by finding out your audience's favourite pizza toppings.

Don't worry if you're presentation isn't live. You can embed your Paperform creations within your presentation software of choice. Genially and Google Slides both support embeds from Paperform.

7. 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.

With a branded hashtag linked to your event you can help encourage viewers to share news, thoughts and updates about your presentation. 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

Check out a great example from our friends at Zapier below. Their tweet is excellent: it includes a link to a guest speaker, the #ZapConnect and a call-to-action leading folks to the event landing page.

💡 Tip: Make sure to choose a hashtag that's specific enough to your personal brand, company or presentation to not be mixed up with others on social media.

8. Insert music and audio to your interactive presentation slides

When creating an interactive presentation for a digital platform or website (say, for your online course, or YouTube channel), consider adding audio or music. This can be used in two main ways: music to add ambiance and audio as a voiceover or guide.

Audio also helps keep your slides from feeling cluttered, as you can add information that's not displayed in text. You can also use it to add touches of humour (cue sound effects) and to add additional context that may be missing from the visual section of your presentation.

9. Harness the power of props

The term props tends to bring to mind images of local stage plays, or washed up magicians pulling fake rabbits out of hats. But hear us out: props aren't all for thespians. They can go a long way to grabbing your audience's attention.

If you're telling a story as part of your presentation, props make excellent visual aids. They can add mystery and intrigue (what is that and why is it there?) and help get a point across in a unique and exciting way.

This TED Talk by neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is the perfect example of a well implemented prop. Dr. Taylor wanted to explain the difference between hemispheres in the brain. So what did she do? She brought out a real human brain.

Dr. Taylor, because of her bold prop usage, left the audience with a presentation they certainly won't forget any time soon. Still, a prop doesn't have to be as crazy as this. It can be something as simple as a whiteboard.

10. Bring your interactive presentation to life with animations

Is there anything more boring than a person on a stage clicking through a page full of bland, white slides? No matter how good the content is, it's about as entertaining as watching paint dry.

The way to combat this is with movement. Transitions, animations and movement of any sort can perk up your audience and make things feel more dynamic. This is super important when you're presenting webinars or any online presentation.

Use GIFs, animating different elements, creating smooth transitions between slides, or even experimenting with interactive infographics and charts can help breathe some life into your presentation.

Finding the right balance can be tricky, but presentation tools like Prezi, Genially, Envato Elements, and Visme offer templates to give you a guide.

Prezi homepage, a brain with text on white background(Image Source: Prezi)

Measure your success with post-event surveys

You might have your own markers of a successful presentation—whether people laughed, or followed you on Twitter, or sent you an email saying how smart and attractive you are. That's all well and good, however the best way to measure the success of your presentation is with a post-event survey.

You can make a brand specific post-event survey with Paperform. Heck, there's even a template ready made for that exact purpose.

In addition to Paperform's built in analytics, you could integrate your survey with Google Sheets to add your results to a spreadsheet automatically.

Or, you could have them automatically sent to your CRM to be shared with the relevant team members. With Paperform's easy to use interface and advanced capabilities, your survey options are truly limitless.

Over to you

With these 10 tips, you should be ready start your shiny interactive presentation. Keeping your presentations engaging, interactive, and entertaining is a great way to help your audience remember the material you're sharing with them.

From building polls for within your presentation, to post-presentation surveys and more, Paperform is a powerful digital suite of tools there to make the process a little easier. You can give it a go today with the 14 day free trial, no cc required, and start kicking your presentations up a notch.

About the author
Aili Olichney
Aili Olichney is a writer, marketing specialist, and the head of Genially's US Creative Community.

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