How to make a presentation interesting

Whether you’re presenting to a boardroom or classroom, there’s magic in a great presentation.

While good and bad presentations involve PowerPoints and organized thoughts, some are much more interesting than others. And everyone has experienced the typical yawn-fest.

Here’s the secret to making a boring presentation interesting: it's not the subject—it’s the way you present it. A great presenter can make any topic thrilling, from civil planning to Arctic marine biology.

If you want your presentation to have the audience eager for the next slide, keep reading to unlock your inner storyteller.

Make your presentations more exciting than ever 

An engaging presentation goes beyond facts and slides. It’s about the experience you create with your audience and the impression you make. 

Look at your presentation objectively. Does your presentation draw your audience in? Does it spark curiosity and motivation to learn more?

If not, how can you transform your presentation style to pique your audience’s interest?

Anyone can deliver a good presentation if they understand how to make it creative and compelling for the audience. 

Let’s dive into the process of creating an engaging presentation, no matter your subject, audience or event.

Elements of an intriguing presentation

The first step is understanding what makes the presentation enjoyable for your audience. 

Laying out the most important details and structure at the beginning builds the framework for a well-crafted presentation. 

Consider these key elements before you start building your slides:

Know your audience

Who are you presenting to? What gets shareholders on the edge of their seats is very different from what interests 8th graders.

What defines the group you’re presenting to? Industry experts engage more deeply with stats and jargon. A general audience may prefer key facts as a seasoning instead of the substance. 

What excites your audience? Understanding what makes them laugh and hooks them can help you create a presentation where they’re eager to hear more.

Use an engaging slide deck

Visual aids are the heart of a great presentation. They give your audience visual context, helping them understand you better. 

Visuals illustrate your points and are a great trick to remember your content. 

When creating your presentation, use charts, pictures, animations and videos. Alternate your slide orientation and add visuals that engage your audience without overloading them with text.

Know your subject 

An in-depth knowledge of your subject is the glue that holds a presentation together, especially if you need to smooth over any mishaps.

It means you can easily manage technical difficulties, a missing slide or an unexpected question. 

You’ll also be able to keep the audience engaged even if the power goes out and you complete your presentation in darkness.

The 10-20-30 rule

Random ‘rules’ are everywhere, but what is the 10-20-30 rule?

This basic framework means a presentation should:

  • Be 10 slides
  • Last 20 minutes
  • Have a font size smaller than 30

This simple rule can stop presentations from under- or overdelivering and keep your audience interested.

The preparation steps for an engaging presentation

How do you prepare a presentation that entertains your audience while providing useful information? 

Crafting an interesting presentation starts with preparation. Focusing on this process brings you closer to a powerful presentation that will delight your audience.

Tell a story with your presentation

The best way to make your presentation more interesting is through storytelling. 

Stories are relatable and have a compelling arc. They hook the audience, pose a challenge and overcome it.

An emotional journey with twists and turns can keep your audience engaged throughout. They’ll also understand your subject more clearly, no matter how complex. 

Start strong to capture your audience

Always start with a hook to create curiosity. Like any good story or essay, your opening should capture your audience's attention. 

You might choose an interesting fact, an outrageous statement or a detail from the middle of your story.

The key is to immediately knock your audience out of their boredom. Now, they're not just sitting through a presentation; they're curious about where you're going.

Starting strong also involves your energy. Bring a powerful, captivating vibe to the stage, and the audience will absorb and reflect it.

Integrate images and videos that enhance the story

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s where excellent slide design comes into play. 

Illustrate each chapter of your story with images and videos that enhance the narrative. Focus on how the images carry the audience through the story and help them visualize what you are talking about. 

Photographs, infographics and video clips can have a powerful effect.

Bring your data to life

If you're talking about data, bring it to life through storytelling, and give examples of its real-world impact. 

If possible, animate the charts to show how they change over time and how this relates to your story. Add infographic elements to your chart to give your data more meaning, such as symbols alongside a color key. 

Add slide transitions 

Adding transitions to your slides is a simple and useful trick to make your presentation more interesting. 

You can mix them up according to where you are in the story. A quick horizontal slide might be appropriate for the beginning of the story, an expanding star for the climax, and even an explosion transition for a catastrophic downfall. 

These can add a touch of flavor to your presentation and inspire a laugh from your audience.

Simplify complex ideas 

If you need to talk about tricky topics, simplify them as story elements. Most people have an easier time tracking a complex topic through a story. 

For example, telling the story of a family can illustrate how environmental elements change lives far more easily than showing your audience reams of research data.

Practice with a test audience

As your presentation takes shape, gather a test audience of trusted friends, family or colleagues. Find people who happily give constructive criticism rather than trying to save your feelings.

Practicing your presentation can smooth out your script, hone your storytelling technique and help you integrate your slides seamlessly with your story. This can really boost your confidence. 

Your test audience can also give you feedback and help you tweak your presentation for an ideal performance.

Perform with style and flair

We’re going to let you in on a big secret to great presentations.

If you want to engage your audience, you must be an energetic performer. Energy can be the difference between a dull presentation and one that has you leaning in for more.

The most memorable performances are brimming with energy and gusto.

Let’s look at seven more tips to nail your presentation. 

Become the storyteller

Don't just tell a story; become the storyteller. A storyteller uses their voice to bring the audience on a journey. Speak dynamically, conveying emotion and meaning in every phrase. 

Turn your presentation into a full-blown performance, just like an actor in a movie. 

Bring your story to life. Get excited during moments of victory, express tension when challenges arise and drop your voice to draw in the audience in moments of suspense. 

There’s no better way to ensure your presentation looks, feels and sounds more interesting than most slide-assisted speeches.

Make eye contact

Making eye contact with every person in the audience is impossible and unnecessary. 

However, looking at audience members’ faces for 3-5 seconds can simulate the feeling that you’re looking directly at them at some point during the presentation.

Choose faces in each direction to focus on or scan the audience and make eye contact with as many people as possible.

Incorporate body language

Standing still is boring—tell the story with your body and your voice. 

Move across the stage when the story moves forward. Use gestures to emphasize certain points. Lean forward to engage the audience or step back as you release the tension. 

Many public speaking coaches say not to pace or sway during a presentation, but dynamic movements are different. Someone moving purposefully is more entertaining to watch.

Make the presentation interactive 

Get the audience involved. An interactive presentation requires the audience to perk up and join in. Plan sections where you ask the audience to participate. 

For example, you might invite a few people to share experiences that represent concepts you’ve discussed, or you might take a poll or survey that illustrates your point. 

Choose interactive questions that bring your point home to the audience. 

When discussing population percentages, you might ask how many people are left-handed or ask them to raise their hands if they have ever been in a car accident. 

This connects the audience to your subject and shows how it directly relates to them and their experiences.

Add a QR poll to the presentation

If you want to take a poll or survey, there are many ways to do this. You can count raised hands or conduct a cheer-off (noise competition). 

In a more professional or larger setting, a QR poll might be the better choice. 

How do presentation QR polls work?

  1. You present a slide with a QR code. 
  2. The code leads to a custom landing page.
  3. Each phone that scans in can answer your question.
  4. Using the right software, you can display the live data on the next slide.

QR codes sidestep the need for custom clickers or pre-installed apps. This makes an interactive presentation much more seamless and engaging for your audience.

Use props aligned with the topic

You can also elevate your presentation with props. Many highly successful presenters use physical props to tell their story. 

The key is to choose relevant props that illustrate your point or represent concepts. They should also be big enough for your audience to see. Consider the venue size, the stage distance to your audience and whether they’ll be watching you on a big screen.

While choosing the right props can matter, some of the best on-stage demonstrations simply involve rearranging chairs and stools. 

It's more about what your props bring to the performance and how they enhance the quality of your story.

Use stage tech

In some cases, you can use the special performance features of your stage. 

Dimming the lights, moving the spotlights, coordinating sound effects and raising or lowering a curtain can breathe new life into your presentation to surprise your audience. 

Most presentation audiences don’t expect full-on stagecraft. But if you work with the technical team, you can use every feature to make your presentation more powerful and effective.

It all starts with a story

The center of making a presentation interesting is the story you’re telling. Don’t just flip through slides and quote stats. Take your audience on a journey. 

Whether your presentation is about project results or industry best practices, the story is there waiting for you to build it. 

Pip Decks’ Storyteller Tactics Card Deck can help you identify those story elements and arrange them in a compelling way for your audience. 

You can identify the characters or roles in the story, how challenges represent "plot points," and how those plot points form a classic story arc. You’ll be able to create an enticing beginning, an exciting climax and a satisfying end.

Framing your presentation as a story can help you step into the role of the storyteller for a more dynamic, emotionally charged performance than you could by presenting data alone.

FAQs

What is a fun way to start a presentation?

You want to grab your audience, so starting your presentation with a bang is the way to go. Try:

  • telling a surprising fact or stat
  • an interactive poll
  • sharing a controversial opinion
  • recounting a personal, relevant anecdote
  • telling a joke
  • presenting the problem and how you’re going to solve it

What are some common interactive elements to include in a presentation?

Interactivity is a great way to keep your audience awake with even the most boring topic. Common interactive ideas include:

  • live polling
  • a Q&A
  • fun slide transitions
  • audience-generated content, such as ideas and stories related to your subject
  • role-playing, which ties in well to storytelling
  • creating games with your subject, like quizzes and challenges

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