I can still remember getting very excited to attend a presentation from a speaker whose book I read and loved in class. Unfortunately, the speaker wasn't as engaging as I had hoped and I was bored and distracted.

Marketers know better than anyone that audience attention comes with people retention. When people get bored, their thoughts wander elsewhere and you miss the opportunity to influence their behavior. This applies regardless of the marketing medium, from advertisements to presentations.

However, marketers need to create effective ways to get the audience's attention during their presentations – one of which is interactivity. According to the Oxford Dictionary, interactivity is defined as the way two people work together and influence each other. Creating interactive presentations therefore means using strategies that grab and hold the audience's attention. It makes it easier to leave lasting, meaningful impressions about the content you share with them.

This post explains the importance of interactive presentations and shares tips from HubSpot experts for engaging, interactive presentations.

Why are interactive presentations important?

Interactive presentations are those that make viewers and moderators feel like they are talking. It's a fulcrum away from the lecture and the feeling of the audience, as presenters trick the audience into participating and interacting with them.

The reason for creating interactive presentations is simple: marketers who connect with their audience are more likely to feel like they have learned something from you.

All marketers want to leave good impressions. Hence, it is important to understand how this is done in presentations. Below are nine interactive presentation ideas that you can use when planning your next virtual or in-person events.

Interactive presentation ideas

  1. Use a PowerPoint.
  2. Compare with your passions.
  3. To tell a story.
  4. Start with an icebreaker.
  5. Cancel the expected format.
  6. Do you have questions and answers or AMA sessions.
  7. Use data representations.
  8. Get off the stage.
  9. Free up resources for later.

Use a PowerPoint.

PowerPoints allow you to incorporate various media such as text, images and even videos into your presentations. This ensures that there is some aspect of your presentation that will appeal to every audience as everyone learns differently.

For example, it may be easier for someone to process your content when they see visual examples. In contrast, the neighbor can keep more information if he can read a brief summary. When you tailor your presentation to the different needs of your audience, it will be easier for everyone to interact with your content and learn from your presentation.

If you choose to use PowerPoint, this HubSpot download gives you four different slide templates to choose from that you can use to create high quality presentations.

Hubspot creative powerpoint template demo

Compare with your passions.

It is probably safe to say that the presentation you are giving is on a topic that you are an expert on. It's also probably safe to say that your audience isn't necessarily as informed as you are, so they need more context to get your understanding.

AJ Beltis, Marketing Manager for Content Creation and Lead Acquisition, says that drawing comparisons to your passions during presentations can engage your audience and improve their understanding of new concepts, especially when they are out of context. This might look like referencing sports, movies, and pop culture.

Beltis says, "Help your audience better understand what you're presenting by referencing something out of context. Sports, film, and pop culture references can work very well when they make sense."

This will keep your audience in suspense as you link the information with real world examples that may be more readily available to them. Bonus points for using a humorous reference that can lead your audience to make a positive association with the information and retain more of what you are saying. If you start with a happy anecdote, you'll set the tone for the rest of the presentation.

Compare the content with your interactive presentation idea for passions

Use an icebreaker.

One way to ensure your presentation is interactive is to use an icebreaker to create a relationship with your audience.

Ice breakers are short activities that viewers can participate in to create a sense of community and help viewers meet their neighbors. Icebreakers can also dispel any kind of tension or fear when not around strangers.

If you have no ideas, you can always try two truths and one lie. Each audience has two factual statements about their life and a lie, and the rest of the audience works together to find out the false statement.

Icebreakers are great because they can be customized for both in-person and virtual meetings. For in-person events, the moderators can pre-select an icebreaker according to security regulations, and a small audience can walk around the room and answer a question. For a larger audience, participants can simply introduce themselves to a neighbor.

For virtual events with a small audience, you can use the same structure as for in-person presentations. However, larger audiences can be broken down into smaller, more intimate breakout rooms. In any case, people are still sort of breaking the ice and interacting with each other.

To tell a story.

Use your presentations to interact with your audience by telling a story. This can be a personal anecdote, a story from a client, or a familiar story that you customize to illustrate the message of your presentation.

Emmy Jonassen, Senior Marketing Director, recalls one of the most memorable presentations from a planning session from the HubSpot marketing team: “There was a group that used Goldilocks and the Three Bears to illustrate how they were cementing the perfect strategy. The story coupled with the images kept the audience busy and people listened and laughed. “Jonassen says that almost a year later this was one of the most memorable presentations of the two day session.

By telling a story, you use interactivity to influence your audience and remind them of what you are sharing with them. A story gives your audience something to associate the information with, which may make the information you are sharing more easily accessible. You used a story to influence the retention of the information you presented.

Tell a story interactive presentation idea

Use data representations.

Using data representations is a valuable way to present your content in a digestible format. For reference, data visualization uses things like charts and graphs to help viewers understand the meaning of the information you are showing them. It's easy to say the words out loud, but the use of images gives the audience a visual representation of your words.

For example, let's say you are a marketer giving a presentation about the benefits your business has gained by promoting it on various social media websites. You can certainly verbalize how Twitter was best, but using a chart that shows the difference in return on investment (ROI) between different platforms gives viewers a visual representation of your success.

If you're a HubSpot user, Marketing Hub lets you create visualizations from the data in your HubSpot analytics reports. The following image is a pie chart created using HubSpot reports.

Example of a pie chart for visualizing interactive presentation data

All in all, data visualization increases the impact of your words as it gives viewers a picture of the meaning of the information you are giving them.

Termination of the "expected" format.

The disappointing presentation I mentioned earlier followed the typical structure of an introduction, a content presentation, a quick question and answer, and then it was over. I expected more interactivity from the author, but it really felt like a regular college lecture. I wish the author had mixed it up and varied its structure, perhaps by asking us questions about our interpretations of the book, but she didn't.

Lots of presenters follow this structure and there's nothing wrong with it, but the framework can get boring for your audience. If you mix it up and vary your style in ways your audience wouldn't expect, you can get their attention by throwing it (in a good way) and they'll likely stay attentive because they don't know what comes next

Amanda Sellers, writer of historical optimization, says deviating from the expected format could mean playing a game or undermining expectations. She recalls a presentation on a Monday afternoon where she knew the audience would likely be a little quiet. For part of her presentation, she made the audience stand up and repeat the words she said; "Her blood flowed when I got up," and I encouraged her to join in at full volume. This messed up the presentation and helped retain information as participants listened and repeated the information. "

Breaking away from the expected format doesn't necessarily mean you should do something in the beginning that you normally would in the end. Get creative about what this means for you personally and how it will benefit the interactivity of your presentations.

Vary your format for interactive presentation tips

Do you have questions and answers or AMA sessions.

A great way to interact with your audience is to have questions and answers (Q&A) or ask me questions (AMA) during your presentation.

When you do this, viewers can ask clarifying questions about what you've already said to gain a full understanding before moving on to the next concept. For example, if you are presenting your current marketing campaign, you should pause after each step of your plan (e.g. target, measurement, target audience, etc.) so that the audience can ask clarifying questions before moving on to the next section.

You can also turn it up and ask questions of the viewers as they are likely to be valuable contributors to the topic at hand. Create quizzes and surveys where they can answer your questions and provide feedback. You can anonymize submissions so that viewers are comfortable sharing something (within reason) that they have on their mind.

Weaving Q&A and AMA opportunities throughout your presentation is also a great way to regain the audience's attention when they are distracted as they need to think critically about your content and how to preserve their own information.

During virtual presentations, viewers may not be as comfortable interrupting you to ask clarifying questions. So it's worth taking the time to ask participants questions or let them ask you questions. Becca Stamp, Senior Learning & Development Operations, says, “It's important to give everyone space to stay silent and contribute throughout the session. The attendees add so much value to the session, either through discussion or through the zoom chat. "

Encourage participants to ask questions about the interactive presentation idea

Get off the stage.

For in-person presentations, it is worth considering getting off the stage and literally aligning with your audience.

Most people expect presenters to stay on stage and be separated from them. So, varying your delivery style and getting closer to your audience can result in a sense of interaction that is different from simply standing in front of a podium for 20 minutes.

Using this strategy, you can also have questions and answers and go up to the members of the audience and answer their questions as if you were having a one-on-one interview. When you fall back on the definition of interactivity, you're leaving an effect on your audience by being more approachable than expected.

Free up resources for later.

A useful way to inspire continuous interaction with your audience is to leave them with something that you can evade your presentation. Depending on the content you share, you may be handing out brochures to promote your service, provide a link to your website, or have them subscribe to an email list.

Whatever your action you want, it's a great way to give them a way to remember you and your presentation to encourage ongoing interaction with them.

Spend time making your presentations interactive

All in all, the goal of creating interactive presentations is to influence your viewers. Whatever your presentation content, using strategies that put audience engagement first is a valuable way to connect with them and teach them something new.

When you feel like you've talked to you instead of being talked about, you can achieve the ultimate goal of marketing: making a lasting impression.

PowerPoint slides

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