October 18, 2019

7 Tips for Designing Interactive Presentations

Making presentations as interactive as possible might seem like more bother than it’s worth, but with a bit of help from us, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to do. You can integrate interactive elements into your presentations in many ways;  surveys, triggers, creating visually appealing transitions and using quiz tools are just some of the interesting options we are going to explore here.

Direct links to the topics covered below:

Introduction: Banish Boredom from your Presentations!

Preparing for the Presentation: Show the Mouse Pointer

Preparing for the Presentation: Install LiveSlides

1. Explore all the Variations of Slide Navigation

2. Use the Zoom Effect

3. Dynamic Transitions with the Morph Effect

4. Capture the Audience’s Attention by Setting Triggers

5. Invigorate your Presentation using Videos

6. Involve Your Audience with Questions, Quizzes, and Surveys

7. Consider Using Helpful New Devices

Introduction: Banish Boredom from your Presentations!

To be honest, presentations can sometimes be really boring. They can seem absolutely endless; slide after slide of text jamming up your brain. Your attention withers away, you get exhausted and sooner or later you completely disconnect mentally. Studies have shown that an audience’s optimum attention span is only about ten minutes.

Keeping the audience’s attention for the whole presentation is therefore one of the most difficult tasks for speakers, with today’s surfeit of presentations and our attention span getting shorter and shorter, with ever more distractions available. In order to keep an audience, you need interesting content throughout: this is where interactive presentations really come into their own.

Interactive presentations mean that the audience’s attention is directly engaged using visually appealing content and the linking of different media.

This article sets out a few ideas which can be particularly effective but relatively simple to incorporate: take your presentations to the next level!

Preparing for the Presentation: Show the Mouse Pointer

When you’ve included interactive components in your presentation, it can help to activate the mouse pointer during the presentation. (It’s normally hidden when presentations are run, making clicking on certain fields virtually impossible.)

How to Show the Mouse Pointer

– go into presentation mode (e.g. by pressing the F5 key)

– depending on the PowerPoint version, click on the control at the bottom left, which looks like a pen, or on the three dots and then on “Arrow Options”

– you can now choose whether the mouse pointer is hidden, displayed automatically (i.e. when the mouse is moved) or always on display

Preparing for the Presentation: Install LiveSlides

LiveSlides is a PowerPoint plug-in which allows you to integrate websites directly into your presentation. This saves you having to click on a link during the presentation and load the corresponding page, and looks professional and elegant. Some of our tips are based on LiveSlides, so we recommend that you install it.

How to Install LiveSlides

– download the plug-in from liveslides.com by clicking on “Download Free LiveSlides Add-In”

– install the program

– open PowerPoint and then LiveSlides

– type or paste the link of the page you want to include in the pop-up window

You can find more information about the features of LiveSlides in our blog article about the LiveSlides Plug-In

1. Explore all the Variations of Slide Navigation

PowerPoint allows you to divide your presentation into sections and access these directly via a navigation bar. You are no longer tied to a linear presentation, but can jump freely between the different sub-sections of your presentation as required. You can also hide sections completely, which is useful when you intend to show your presentation to a range of different audiences so not all content is always relevant.

How to Insert Sections

– place your mouse pointer between the slides you want to divide into different sections (where you want a new section to start)

– in the Start tab, select “Slides”, then “Add Section” and “Section”

– you can do this even faster with the key combination CTRL + , (comma)

– either name the sections as you create them or right-click later and select “Rename Section”

We’ll be publishing more about sections in our forthcoming article “Everything in Focus: Presentation Sections”.

Using tabs can add even more clarity to your presentation, allowing your audience to see exactly where you are and what is still to come. You can find PowerPoint Index Tabs in our shop.

2. Use the Zoom Effect

Office365 now allows users to utilize the Zoom effect whilst navigating around PowerPoint. This lets you zoom in and out on slides to move from one overview slide to another. This adds a dynamic aspect to your presentation and allows your audience to easily keep track of where you are in your presentation.

Instructions: Using the Zoom Effect in PowerPoint

– on the Insert tab, click “Zoom”

– choose between three zoom functions:

o “Summary zoom” creates an overview slide showing the different sections of your presentation – we are using this popular choice in our example

o “Section zoom” sets a link to a section.

o “Slide zoom” allows quick navigation between slides in any order.

– if “Summary zoom” is selected, add each slide that you want to navigate to

–  finally, click “Insert”

You can now jump straight to any of the slides you selected in the previous step. The other slides in each section follow on from the selected slide.

A more detailed description of the zoom effect can be found in our blog article about Zoom Effects like in Prezi, which also covers how to apply this in older PowerPoint versions.

3. Dynamic Transitions with the Morph Effect

The Morph effect allows you to incorporate slide transitions which appear to be moving into your PowerPoint presentations. This effect is only available to users of Office365 or PowerPoint 2019 and later.

How to use the Morph Effect

– first duplicate your source slide by right-clicking the desired slide in the navigation and selecting “Duplicate slide”

– change the new slide to how you wish it to look at the end of the transition: move, enlarge or reduce objects, delete or insert text – anything is possible!

– now click on the “Transitions” tab and select “Morph”

To see how your transition was animated, you can either click on “Preview” on the left or press F5 to start the presentation.

More information about the Morph transition and the PowerPoint Designer can be found in our article “New PowerPoint Features: Morph and Designer”.

4. Capture the Audience’s Attention by Setting Triggers

Triggers are a simple but extremely practical tool when it comes to keeping or directing the audience’s attention. They allow you to show and hide information at the click of a mouse, which has several advantages: the appearance of new content attracts attention and interest, while your slide remains uncluttered as the additional information can be hidden again. Overloaded and confusing slides are always lose the audience‘s attention and should be avoided like the plague.

Instructions: Configuring Triggers in PowerPoint

– first create a visually appealing slide of content important to you

– now draw a shape that will be used as a trigger and place it on the slide

– type or paste the text to be shown when clicking on the trigger in a suitable form, such as a speech bubble

– select the shape with the text then select an effect such as Fade in the Animations tab

– to set the trigger, click “Trigger” on the Animations tab and then “On clicking” and then the trigger (the shape you created in step 2)

Additional steps are required to show and hide the additional information:

– on the Animations tab, click “Animation Area”

– double-click on the trigger to open the “Effect Options” dialog box

– in the After Animation list box, select “Hide with next mouse click”.

You can find more about triggers in general in our blog post “PowerPoint Triggers: Focus on the Essence of Your Presentation”.

5. Invigorate your Presentation using Videos

Short videos are wonderful for providing variety and interest in presentations. They grab the audience’s attention and give you as a speaker time to gather your thoughts or have a glass of water. Be careful not to use videos that are too long; any video should support your presentation, not replace it!

There are basically two ways to include videos in your presentation: insert them directly into PowerPoint; or embed online videos. The first option requires more storage space, but works offline – a big advantage if there is no or poor internet connection where you will be presenting. PowerPoint also allows you to edit locally saved videos.

How to Insert a Video File

– on the Insert tab, click “Video” and select either “Video on my computer” or “Video from file” (depending on your version of PowerPoint)

– navigate to the desired video file and confirm your selection

How to Embed Online Video

– on the Insert tab, click “Video”, then “Online Video”

– you can now search for and select a YouTube video or link a video from an alternative online source using an embed code

If you have saved a video offline, you can also edit it with PowerPoint; for example, by setting the start and end individually or adding various effects.

Find out more about video, what editing options you have and how to use them in our articles “Insert Videos into PowerPoint – The Perfect Way to Embed or Link” and “Using and Editing Videos in PowerPoint“.

6. Involve Your Audience with Questions, Quizzes, and Surveys

Asking questions is a great way to keep your audience’s attention. The human brain processes questions in a different way to statements, and therefore a question can shift your audience out of passive mode.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a question that everyone answers for themselves, a one that is discussed, or even a rhetorical question; simply asking the question is enough to activate your audience’s brains.

Questions are therefore invaluable in arousing your audience’s interest, and there are more options you can use in the same vein:

Put in Surveys

Surveys are a great way to break the ice before a presentation and to get your audience involved and interested. They can also be used during presentations to break up the pace and alert the audience. For you as a speaker they provide valuable information about your audience and their interests and experiences, making it easier to respond specifically.

Surveys can be easily created via sites such as polleverywhere.com or mentimeter.com. Participoll.com even allows you to incorporate the survey directly into your presentation. The audience can participate in the survey you create using the URL provided by the page. The result can then be viewed live, either on the page or, even better, using LiveSlides directly in the presentation.

– download the Liveslides plug-in by clicking on “Download Free LiveSlides Add-In” on Liveslides.com

– install the program

– open PowerPoint and then LiveSlides

– type or paste the link to your survey in the pop-up window

Build in a Quiz

Interactive quizzes fulfil several functions at once: they involve the audience in active participation, consolidate facts you’ve just imparted, and prepare your audience for future content.

With Kahoot! and Liveslides, you can quickly and easily incorporate interactive quizzes into your presentation. Kahoot! is a free web-based tool for creating quizzes. These can then be answered by the audience via smartphone and the results  displayed immediately.

How to Use Kahoot!

– go to getkahoot.com and click on “Sign up for free!” in the middle of the page or “Sign up – it’s free!” at the top right and enter the appropriate data

– click on the link in the confirmation email to activate your account

– now log in with your account data

Kahoot! offers various options: quiz, jumble and more. Choose what fits your presentation best.

To start the quiz directly from the presentation, you need the LiveSlides plug-in, as mentioned above:

– download the Liveslides plug-in by clicking on “Download Free LiveSlides Add-In” on Liveslides.com

– install the program

– open PowerPoint and then LiveSlides.

–  log in with your user data to getkahoot.com or create.kahoot.com, and select the appropriate quiz

7. Consider Using Helpful New Devices

There are now a range of new devices especially helpful when giving interactive presentations.  Many of them are used like a remote control, removing the need to stay next to your laptop when presenting.  This increases the potential contact you have with your audience, and removes the barrier of you being static; this is covered in detail in our article “How to Connect with Your Presentation Audience”.

There is a wide range such devices and many of them have practical additional functions and extras. It’s probably best to have a look at a few different products before selecting the device that best suits your needs. We for example reccomend Logitech’s Spotlight Presenter.

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