How to Make a Presentation Interactive in 2019

September 11, 2019

Picture the greatest presentation you’ve ever witnessed. Why did it make such an impact?

I’ll take a guess: engagement. Presentations led by a charismatic, interactive speaker tend to make a big impact on an audience’s interest and interaction. If an interactive speaker couples their captivating personality with an engaging slideshow, it creates double the impact. 

There are a number of reasons why presentations don’t make an impact on an audience. Sometimes the speaker is merely unprepared and stumbles over their speech, or perhaps the topic isn’t interesting to the audience. (We’ve all been there.) Sometimes a presentation doesn’t make the splash the speaker hoped for. But there are simple ways to turn a presentation into something that will surely catch and keep the attention of your audience.

How to make a presentation interactive

Dust off your public speaking notes and fire up your presentation software. We’ll begin by digging into the different ways you can spice up your presentation to properly engage your audience.

GIFs and videos

GIFs and videos add a bit of flair to a text-heavy presentation. In some instances, an out-of-context GIF or video can tie into the context of the presentation, which will often make your topic more understandable and relatable to your audience. (Not to mention the added humor.) GIFs and videos are a great way to enhance your presentation without worrying about it cluttering up your slides. The same idea applies to slide transition effects, which add a visual effect when switching slides. 

While both GIFs and slide transition effects are engaging, it's important to not overuse or rely on these visual aids. Doing so will keep any extra noise to a minimum and reduce potential distractions.

Man giving an interactive presentation in 2019 on a projector.

Dynamic slide designs

Audiences generally don’t want to read blocks of text on your slides, especially if the text is small and hard to read. In addition, listing your topics in the form of bullet points on plain slides can become boring after a while. By adding dynamic design elements to each slide, you’re offering another reason for your audience to look at your slide and preventing their interest from slipping. Try to change the design every few slides, but keep the overall look of the design consistent throughout so the changes aren’t jarring to the viewer.

Most presentation tools offer generic templates and ready-made design options you can use in your slideshow. However, if you’re familiar with how to design your own template, it’s worth creating something you feel will fit the tone of your topic, whether it’s matching your company’s brand design or creating a design you feel complements the presentation. For example, a graphic designer who is planning on pitching their own logo design to a client might want the entire slideshow to showcase the design elements and color scheme the clients may expect in the final deliverable.

Related: Check out 25 of the best pitch deck examples for 2019. 

Live polls and surveys

Live polls and surveys leveraged from audience response software are a great addition to encourage interaction with the audience. Depending on your topic, you may decide to insert a poll that lets audience members vote on answers to a question related to your topic. For example, a presentation related to company branding might benefit from a poll allowing people to voice their opinions on current and potential branding options.

Charts and graphs

Many presentation tools have easy-to-use features that let you create your own graph, as long as you have the data to make one. Simple charts and graphs add a visual component that helps your audience better understand your topic, especially if it is a technical one.

Whether you're in person or presenting remotely with a screen sharing tool, incorporating some or all of these slide additions will make a much bigger impact on your audience.

How to make your speech interactive

Now, let's talk about making your speech more interactive.


Icebreakers are a perfect opportunity for your audience to refocus and allow you to set the overall tone of the upcoming presentation. There are thousands of ways to break the ice with your audience, so choose one that fits the mood of your topic. One way to do this is to tell a personal story related to your topic, then segue into the main part of your presentation. Another way to break the ice is to have the audience answer a question by raising their hands, such as asking how many of the audience members are familiar with your topic.

Encourage questions throughout the presentation

Questions automatically perk up everyone in the audience. Not only do they feel more compelled to pay attention, but questions help facilitate conversations about your topic that you may not have planned to cover. This helps the audience understand your presentation and makes everyone more engaged.

Get people moving

Physical activity gets the blood flowing. Consider how long your audience has been sitting and decide whether you want to bring up the energy level by encouraging them to get up and walk around for a segment of your presentation. Your audience doesn’t necessarily have to break a sweat, but there are a few activities they can participate in that could potentially tie into your presentation’s story arc. For example, if your topic relates to perspectives, ask your audience to switch seats with someone in the room to gain an instant perspective change. The task is simple, yet effective.

Woman giving interactive presentation to large audience.

Accept real-time feedback

As we discussed earlier, adding polls and surveys to a slideshow is a fairly simple way to make it more interactive. A live poll allows your audience to participate silently, which is perfect for those who don’t necessarily want to speak up and ask a question. In comparison, surveys are also a great method for letting silent audience members voice their opinions on the discussed topic. With live results, the audience is able to gauge the thoughts and opinions of everyone else, which may spark some meaningful conversations. The speaker, on the other hand, has instant audience feedback to incorporate into the presentation.

Show the audience how they can stay in touch

Adding a slide with contact information toward the end of a presentation gives the audience an invitation to discuss your topic with you in the future. Without contact information, your audience members may not bother to keep the discussion going. Contact information keeps you on the audience’s radar and helps guide members who did not want to engage during the presentation.

Take a bow

Always remember that the point of your slideshow is to convey the message behind your topic in an understandable, visual way. By crafting the perfect slideshow and practicing your speaking skills, you’re on your way to becoming a charismatic presenter.

Want a presentation solution but don’t know where to start looking for one? Check out the best free slideshow makers to get a head start.

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