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How to Make an Interactive Presentation | #powerpointdesigners

When I ask speakers what makes them nervous about presenting, their answers usually fall into one of two categories. Either they are worried about not performing well, or they are worried about boring their audience. Interactive presentations offer a solution for both of those worries.

First, they give the presenter short breaks by involving others. They also make the presentation feel more like a conversation than a performance which takes the pressure off the speaker. Second, interactive presentations allow for greater audience engagement which, in turn, boosts audience interest.

So today we are giving you 4 ways to make your presentations more interactive (and more fun, and more engaging, and more interesting, and more conversational–you get the point).

1. Encourage breakout discussion

Research shows that you can expect your audience to have optimal attention spans somewhere around 18-20 minutes. That’s why TED talks normally fall in this range. In my classes I use a technique I call “brain breaks.” My goal is never to speak for more than 20 minutes without offering my students some kind of break. Normally, it’s a chance to talk and engage with those around them.

This same technique can work well if you are giving a longer presentation. Around the 20-minute mark, plan to let your audience engage in breakout discussion with those around them. Think carefully about the purpose of the break. Do you want the audience to dig deeper into a concept you’ve been discussing? Do you want them to chat about something completely unrelated to the presentation, so they connect on another level? There are some real icebreaker gems in BuzzFeed’s 63 Deep Questions to Start a Conversation with Anyone (you may be surprised how strongly some people feel about sharing fries). Once you know the purpose of the break, make sure you control the discussion time. Here’s how:

  • Include clear instructions for what you want them to do. If they don’t know each other, you might suggest they start by telling each other their names, hometowns, jobs, etc.
  • Create a slide with the question or prompt that you want them to discuss.
  • Include a countdown timer on the slide with the prompt so the transition back to the presentation is controlled and smooth.

2. Use live polling

If you want to give the audience a voice in your presentation or gather their feedback quickly, consider taking a live poll. There are many programs you can use to gather real time audience feedback. Check out Mentimeter or one of the 10 programs listed on SurveyLegend’s Top 10 list for live polling.

One of the more innovative ways to gather audience feedback is to have them create an interactive word cloud. Word clouds take textual data (words) and arrange them according to size. So the words that are used the most are the biggest.  And by simply adding the Poll Everywhere plugin, you can do this right in PowerPoint. The program works by having the audience text their responses to a number you include on your slide.

For example, say you are a personal trainer and nutritionist who has been contracted to implement some health initiatives for a company. In your initial presentation, you create an interactive word cloud by asking the employees to share one word that comes to mind when they think of health. This gives you real-time feedback on the pre-existing opinions the audience has about your topic and allows you to address them on the spot.

3. Ask questions

One of the more traditional forms of interactive presentations involves asking short answer questions. But communication theorist and speaking coach Nick Morgan says there is a right and a wrong way to approach audience questions. In an article in Forbes, he says that speakers too often settle for rhetorical questions in which everyone in the audience already knows the answer. If you ask something like, “is everyone ready to get started?”, it feels more like a gimmick than an honest attempt at interaction. The audience knows you are going to start the presentation no matter what, or if, they answer.

Instead, Morgan suggests using real questions that require real answers. Things like “what comes to mind when I say the word health?” And don’t be afraid to wait a little bit for responses. It takes some time for the question to sink in and for the audience to speak up. Plus, your willingness to wait shows the audience that their answers really matter to you.

4. Harness the power of social media & smartphones

Social media and smartphones offer plenty of opportunities to make your presentation interactive. You could ask the audience to take photos or post comments using a certain hashtag on their social media accounts. You can ask them to look something up on their phones or take a quick quiz or live poll, as mentioned above. However, you should always use this method with caution. Typically, you want to do everything you can to prevent the audience from reaching for their phones. It’s simply too easy to lose them. So if you plan to use this method, have a clear way to reengage them.

Interactive presentations aren’t just an option, they are a necessity for presenters who really want to engage their audiences. Don’t be afraid to share the stage during your next presentation by fostering breakout discussion, polling the audience, asking questions, or using social media and smartphones. When you do, you make your audience active participants, and you’ll reap great results.

For more ways to take your presentation to the next level, get in touch with one of our presentation experts now.

The post How to Make an Interactive Presentation appeared first on Ethos3 – A Presentation Training and Design Agency.

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