12+ Ideas for Engaging Presentations
A great presentation is more than just a collection of slides and bullet points; it's an opportunity to connect with your audience, convey your message effectively, and leave a lasting impact.
A great presentation is more than just a collection of slides and bullet points; it’s an opportunity to connect with your audience, convey your message effectively, and leave a lasting impact.
But to create engaging presentations, you need to think beyond the traditional format. So, in this article, I’ll walk you through 12 ideas for engaging presentations (with examples and cheat sheets) that will help you stand out and make a memorable impression!
1. Storytelling: Weave a Narrative Thread with Your Presentation
Stories provide context, evoke emotions, and create a deeper connection with the material. They don’t require a lot of time, either, so they’re a relatively cost-effective way to spice up your presentation.
He’s not popular these days, but consider the example of Elon Musk’s presentation unveiling SpaceX’s mission to Mars. Musk didn’t just present facts and figures; he painted a vivid picture of the journey to Mars, invoking a sense of adventure and possibility.
Similarly, in his 2014 TED Talk, “The Art of Storytelling,” Andrew Stanton (the man behind “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo”) captivated the audience with a personal story about his childhood fascination with telling stories and an emotional anecdote about his own father.
Another great example is J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard, where she talked about her journey and offered relatable experiences. Always keep your audience in mind and highlight the points of the journey they can empathize with.
How to Implement Storytelling in Presentations:
- Begin with a captivating hook to immediately grab your audience’s attention.
- Develop relatable characters or scenarios that tie into your message.
- Use descriptive language and sensory details to immerse your audience in the story.
2. Interactive Quizzes and Polls for Real-Time Engagement in Presentations
Keep your audience engaged in real time through interactive elements like quizzes and polls.
Barack Obama, during his presidency, used this technique during town hall meetings. He asked the audience questions, inviting them to participate actively in the discussion, which fostered engagement and a sense of involvement.
If you’re not a fan of politics, a TEDx speaker, Nilofer Merchant, incorporated live polling to gauge the audience’s opinion on a specific topic related to her presentation, “Got a Meeting? Take a Walk.” This interaction allowed the audience to actively participate and influenced the direction of her talk.
This is a bold choice, especially if you’re used to using scripts, but a very memorable one.
How to Add Interactivity to Your Presentations
3. Incorporate Feedback Loops in Your Presentations
There’s nothing worse than a presentation where you feel you’re being talked at – not with. And while it’s hard to make 100+ people feel engaged, there is a way to source their feedback and allow it to affect your presentation.
For example, during a product launch, a tech company like Apple may open a chat channel for instant feedback, helping them address queries and concerns as they arise. (Live chat is a feature with SlideDog presentation playlists.)
Similarly, in the virtual event industry, platforms like Hopin have feedback mechanisms where attendees can provide real-time comments and questions. Event organizers can then use this feedback to adapt and improve the event in real time.
How to Integrate Feedback Loops in Your Presentations
- Establish clear channels for feedback, such as live chat, social media, or dedicated Q&A sessions.
- Assign a moderator or team member to monitor and filter feedback.
- Address feedback and questions promptly.
4. Visualize Data
Data, while crucial, can often be overwhelming. Just think of all those endless bar charts in end-of-quarter meetings.
Thankfully, visualizing data through infographics, charts, and graphs can simplify complex information.
For example, Hans Rosling’s TED Talk, “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen,” is a prime example of how compelling visuals can transform dry data into a mesmerizing presentation. The talk featured dynamic bubble charts that visualized global health data, something you can easily create today with platforms like Prezi.
How to Visualize Data
- Choose the best visualization type (e.g., bar charts, pie charts, heatmaps) for your data.
- Make sure your visuals are easy to understand and support your key message.
- Use color, size, and labels effectively to highlight important data points.
- Add in a joke or two!
5. Use Humor: Lighten the Atmosphere
Humor is a universal connector. There’s nothing like a well-placed joke or a humorous anecdote to break the ice and make your audience more receptive.
For example, Bill Gates incorporated humor in his presentation about the importance of mosquitoes in spreading diseases, demonstrating how even serious subjects can benefit from a touch of fun.
You can also learn from your favorite comedians. In his 2019 Netflix comedy special, Ken Jeong cleverly weaved humor into personal stories and anecdotes, making his performance relatable and entertaining.
How to Use Humor in Presentations
- Tailor your humor to your audience’s preferences and the context of your presentation. Try to use inside jokes whenever possible. For example, if you’re dealing with ops managers, they’re likely tired of spreadsheets.
- Avoid offensive humor; opt for light, relatable jokes.
- Use humor to reinforce critical points or provide a humorous twist to anecdotes.
6. Incorporate Multimedia in Your Presentations to Enhance Engagement
Multimedia elements such as images, videos, live web pages, and sound clips can breathe life into your presentation.
Steve Jobs was a master at this, using product demonstration videos to showcase the features and benefits of Apple’s latest innovations during his iconic product launches.
Now, you don’t need Apple’s budget to combine videos, PowerPoint slides, Prezi slides, live web pages, and more into your presentations. All you need is SlideDog, which helps you build a seamless playlist!
How to Build Multimedia Presentations
- Don’t go overboard with elements. Instead, use high-quality visuals, audio, and video to stay professional while boosting engagement.
- Test all multimedia components in advance to avoid technical issues
- Use a tried & true multimedia presentation tool like SlideDog.
7. Audience Participation: Involve Your Audience
You create a sense of ownership when you actively involve your audience in a presentation. They go from passive recipients of your message to active co-creators of their experience.
For example, do you remember the “Two Truths and a Lie” icebreaker? The activity encourages participants to share personal information and have fun.
In a leadership training setting, you could divide participants into small groups to discuss real workplace challenges. Then, each group could present their solutions to the entire audience, opening up their ideas to feedback.
How to Involve Your Audience in Your Presentation
- Plan audience participation activities that align with your presentation goals.
- Consider open-ended questions, brainstorming sessions, quizzes, or group activities. (This is great for smaller groups!)
- Give the audience enough time to resist needing to cut them off so you can deliver the rest of your planned presentation.
8. Props and Demonstrations: Show, Don't Just Tell
Sometimes, the best way to convey a message is through hands-on experiences.
During his TED Talk on improving food education, Jamie Oliver used a cart full of sugar to visually represent the amount of sugar British school kids consume every year. This is a pretty bold move, but bold moves are what great presentations are all about!
Going back to the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay once used a raw and cooked steak to demonstrate the perfect level of doneness, appealing to the audience’s senses and making culinary concepts more tangible.
Engaging not just the visual but also the auditory and tactile senses can deepen the impact of your presentation. At product launches, Tesla often includes live demonstrations that involve the audience in sensory experiences, such as feeling the acceleration of their electric cars.
How to Deliver Tangible Presentations
- Choose props that illustrate complex ideas or reinforce the key points you’re making in your presentations.
- Rehearse demonstrations thoroughly.
- Use sensory cues to evoke emotions or memories connected to your message. (For example, presenting to sales development teams? Why not play a sound of crickets to imitate not getting through to the decision-maker?)
9. Case Studies and Examples: Make It Tangible
It’s one thing to tell, and another to show. When you’re holding presentations – and especially if we’re talking about sales presentations, your audience wants you to back up what you’re saying with track record and proof.
That’s where real case studies and examples come into play. For example, HubSpot often uses case studies to show how other prospects can achieve fantastic results with their platform.
Mind you, HubSpot often talks about measurable results, i.e., quantitative data. Reference actual stats and figures whenever possible because there’s nothing like good old math to prove how good you are.
How to Choose the Right Case Studies for Your Presentations
- Cherry-pick case studies so they mirror your specific audience’s challenges. Have a case study for each (well-structured) ICP. For example, if you’re dealing with salespeople and marketing people, have dedicated case studies addressing each group’s goals instead of smushing them together.
- Try using before-and-after scenarios to drive the point home.
- Don’t just focus on overarching goals. Instead, highlight the practical benefits and outcomes and show how your solution works in the day-to-day.
10. Try Gamification in Your Presentations
Depending on the type of presentation, you could try gamification. Typically, this means including game elements like scores, points, and achievements into what would typically be a not-immediately rewarding activity.
For example, a sales training presentation could include a competitive quiz or a leaderboard. Instead of hoping the audience will be intrinsically motivated, you can motivate them with added elements.
How to Try Gamification in Your Presentations
- Use gamification elements that align with the goal of your presentation. You could even have multiple choice quizzes throughout and ask the participants to jot down their answers, giving them scores at the end.
- In addition to points, you can use rewards and competition in smaller presentations.
- Don’t make the gamification distract the audience from the content! It should help them learn the core takeaways.
11. Simulations: Create Real-Life Scenarios
Simulations are fantastic for smaller or training presentations because they allow people to start thinking on their feet, getting fully immersed in your content.
For example, in a cybersecurity presentation, you could simulate a cyberattack and involve the audience in decision-making to showcase the importance of security measures.
Similarly, in a healthcare training presentation, you could offer case studies and ask the audience to guess the causes or discuss ways to treat the issues. This is a fantastic way to get everyone engaged and learning.
How to Use Real-Life Scenarios in Your Presentations
- Provide clear instructions and objectives for the simulation.
- Debrief after the simulation to make everyone reflect on what you shared and review the lessons learned.
12. Mystery and Discovery: Unveil Insights Gradually
While it’s never good to bury the lede, you also don’t want to give things away before building up the anticipation for them. So, in your next presentation, try to build curiosity by gradually revealing key insights or solutions. Much like a detective story, this technique keeps your audience eager to uncover the next piece of the puzzle.
For example, in a product launch presentation, the company CEO could gradually unveil the product’s groundbreaking features, teasing the audience with glimpses of what was to come.
Unfortunately, this method won’t work if you’re presenting something your audience is very familiar with – unless you’ve found an angle or new information they weren’t aware of before.
How to Sherlock-Holmes Your Presentation
- Hint at intriguing insights or solutions throughout your presentation until you reach the big reveal.
- Try using storytelling techniques to build plot twists.
- But don’t make the gradual reveal frustrating!
Engaging Presentations: Art and Science
It’s never just what you say – it’s how you say it.
Even if you don’t have the time to experiment with next-level presentation techniques, a little storytelling and multimedia presentations with SlideDog will go a long way toward capturing your audience’s attention. With presentations being ever-present (pun absolutely intended), it should be your goal to break the pattern and get everyone’s eyes on you.
And then, give them a show they’re unlikely to forget!