How to Make a Presentation Interactive
If you’re giving a speech or presentation, you want your ideas to make an impact on your audience.
But it’s pretty hard to figure out if you are actually making that impact. Audiences usually don’t give us much live feedback.
What happens if you don’t make a presentation interactive? You run the risk of boring your audience, and wasting their time, which can lead to some hilarious results:
It’s up to us as communicators to create a situation where our audiences can participate.
Bear in mind, truly making your presentation interactive will often require changing the structure of the presentation itself.
If you’re delivering a traditional “lecture” style presentation, then it will be extremely challenging to get interaction from your audience.
Not all of these tactics will be possible in your presentation context or office culture.
Some may be advanced tips, but creating a genuinely different kind of presentation will make all the difference.
Here are 7 Key Tactics to Make Your Presentation More Interactive.
1. Hand out Worksheets, Documents or Other Tangibles
One of the simplest tricks when learning how to make a presentation interactive is to use the power of tangibles.
When you provide physical items that the audience can touch and hold, they get more engaged. Any kind of physical movement is good.
Tangible items make your presentation go beyond the visual and auditory senses, and reach their tactile sense.
Consider giving them items like reports, print-outs of your slide deck, diagrams, maps, 3D representations, mockups, product samples, or models.
2. Incorporate Live Survey/ Q&A Tools
Tools like Mentimeter and Slido are great for creating engagement with audiences in person or remotely.
They are best-suited for large audiences.
You provide a code that the audience can access through their phone, and from there they can answer a poll or provide comments.
As the organizer, you can see all of the responses on your device, or display them at the front of the room in real time.
3. Mention or Call on Individual Audience Members by Name
If you know the people in the audience, or have access to their names, feel free to call on them directly.
When I coach clients and students on how to make a presentation interactive, this is a key strategy I emphasize because it’s so simple but effective.
If it’s a more fluid meeting where you can actually have side conversations or receive input from audience members, then this works perfectly.
However, even in a formal presentation where you are giving a one-way lecture, you can still utilize this tactic–just mention a few people’s names in the audience as you speak:
“Now let me get to the next phase of our product rollout, and Rob, I know this was an area you were especially interested in learning about…”
“Vanessa shared with me some of the updates her team has been working on, so I’d like to highlight those now…”
4. Turn Your Presentation into a Guided Discussion
This is a fairly advanced tactic and will require you to be totally comfortable on stage and capable of managing a room.
For this tactic, instead of making a series of statements, you take on a “teaching” role and pose relevant questions to the audience, and then wait for their answers.
As they respond, you comment and pivot from attendee to attendee, adding your own context and insight along the way.
Over time, the audience learns more and more, and they will remain 100% engaged throughout
The key is to introduce new questions from a place of calm confidence, without looking weak or unprepared, and without coming across as condescending.
You will still give all the substantive information you would otherwise provide in a traditional lecture.
It’s just delivered in a more engaging experience.
When done right, this is an extremely powerful way to make your presentation interactive.
5. Include “Quiz” Questions in Your Slides
You can hide key data or facts behind animations in PowerPoint.
Instead of providing that key info immediately, cover it and ask the audience what they think the number is:
“Who can guess what our revenue was last month?”
“Pop quiz. What do you think is our current CPA?”
After they discuss or give their answers, click to animate and reveal the right answer on the slide. And then move to the next quiz question.
You can have a series of questions, one after the other. Or you can pose one quiz question at the beginning of each section of your speech.
This is a great way to keep people engaged as you go through your presentation.
You can also make the presentation interactive by providing small gifts or prizes to those that get a right answer.
6. (For Virtual Presentations) Encourage Them to Submit Questions or Comments in the Live Chat
Audience members don’t often think of submitting questions or comments unless they are specifically asked to.
Many people don’t want to impose on the presenter, and assume that if questions have not been invited, they are not welcome.
Others are just shy and need coaxing.
Very few audience members will boldly stand up, raise their hand, or insert a question without being asked.
So take it upon yourself as the presenter to encourage them to comment in the live chat.
And don’t just tell them once; tell them multiple times throughout your presentation.
This is especially relevant in webinars or livestreams.
Once one or two people have commented, others will often follow.
7. Create an Immersive Experience
This is the most challenging tactic of all.
But if you or your organization are able to make a presentation interactive by creating an immersive experience, it’s probably the most impactful and most memorable.
Consider walk-in exhibits, or live performances. Sound or music can potentially play a role.
Create a skit or live demonstration with a member of your team. Or bring audience members up to the front of the room and demo with them.
Think about how you can include video or audio clips, gifs, or slide animations into the experience.
There might be many ways to creatively communicate your ideas.
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