Workplaces, schools and organizations have shifted gears over the last few weeks, moving towards remote work and learning models in response to the current global crisis. As social distancing becomes the new normal for many, we face the challenge of listening and being heard through the screens of our devices, and there’s plenty of room for miscommunication. These times require us to be clearer and more effective communicators than ever before, and presentations are often the tool for making an impact among coworkers, students and clients.
In a world where the success of your next class or pitch depends on your ability to organize and present it well, having a clear idea of your presentation options and how to get the most out of each one can be the deciding factor. In this post, we’ll look at the power of interactive presentations and the main presentation types used in training, businesses and education. We’ll also give you ideas on how to bring your material to life through practical examples.
Interactive Presentations: Increase engagement by inviting your audience to participate
Important companies like Apple have been taking big bets on interactivity as the way forward for effective communication for over a decade, and other companies and individuals are starting to take notice. A good presentation is now defined by its ability to capture your audience’s attention and maintain it by giving them opportunities to discover and interact with your information and ideas. An interactive presentation includes elements that the viewer can explore and allows them to feel they have agency through participation. It keeps talks from feeling predictable as there is always something unseen waiting to be discovered. Don’t just read from static slides. Take your audience on a journey.
Here are a few ways you can make your presentation interactive:
- Position your information (text, images, videos, etc.) in layers, hiding secondary information in windows or tooltips that open when you click on a chosen element in your presentation. Leave your key points visible and fixed on the page to highlight your main message. If you’re sending the presentation to a client or student, they’ll be able to explore each slide in search of additional information you’ve tucked away. If you’re presenting in person, you’ll have greater control over the pacing of secondary information and can give your audience time to come up with their own ideas before giving yours.
- Add an activity where your audience can delve into the material. Activities where you ask participants to predict outcomes before you share real data or sort concepts into categories can help get your audience engaged and invested in your topic.
- Insert external tools and elements into your presentation. Never underestimate the element of surprise. Inserting elements that your audience isn’t expecting to see in a presentation–… vs. embed it into an LMS or work site……
Video presentations open up a new world of options for the modern day professional. Slides are set up to transition into one another automatically. They make for great carousels, also known as sliders, which businesses and freelancers can use to showcase new products, announce company news, and highlight an organization’s current and past projects. Insert a video presentation as a header onto your website or online platform to promote your work.
Presentations for companies and business professionals
A pitch is a short presentation outlining a company’s vision and work and is usually presented to investors with the hopes that they will invest in a company. It’s also a term used more broadly as a synonym for business proposal. Is a pitch is the right format for your presentation? Make sure to check out this post for more detailed information on different kinds and tips on how to make a strong pitch.
Unlike a pitch, a dossier is an extensive informational presentation that shows what a business does and represents. It is a core company document made to showcase a mature vision of the company and show that a company can back up its claims with satisfied clients or numbers. It should be made with a clear target audience in mind.
Reports are the culmination of hard work invested into a project and should show the fruits of your labor, but too often, reports fail to make an impact. Why? Unfortunately, the vast majority of reports are poorly structured, have too much or too little content or fail to communicate data in a way that impresses their reader.
Before you turn in your next report, make sure you:
- Outline a structure and have it checked by someone you trust. Start with an index and use that as a guide when building your report. If possible, show it to a coworker to make sure what you’re planning to show seems important and well organized. Ask them to answer these three questions. What’s their biggest takeaway? Do they feel like any big points aren’t being covered? Would they cut anything out? You can decide what to do with their feedback. Having another person’s perspective will help you be sure that you’re communicating what you mean to.
- Choose only the most important statistics when creating graphs. A well-used graph can drive a point home and can show your boss or client that you achieve real, measurable results. Make sure it doesn’t get lost among a sea of less important graphics.
- Clean up your slides. Just as too many graphs can hide your big successes, too much text or too many visual elements can distract from what matters. Keep your main points concise and clear on each slide. If you need to add secondary information or notes, feel free to do so, but consider inserting it in buttons that the viewer can click on to access.
Presentations for professionals in the training and education sectors
A didactic or learning unit is a lesson on a single topic or theme. Every educator knows what we’re talking about. When creating your presentation, you have the option of choosing between creating a full didactic unit where all your information is stored and one where important concepts are highlighted and other supplementary material is used externally to further learning on the topic. As teachers transition to flipped classroom models or, at this time, online classes, didactic unit presentations are likely one element in a larger plan. If you are looking to keep all of your materials in a single presentations, however, you’re in luck. You can insert external elements seamlessly into your unit presentation. Here’s an example of that option:
Thesis or Final Project Presentation
Whether you’re a student and your thesis is that last step to a new qualification, or a teacher guiding students through the process of assembling a final project, you know how a final presentation can make or break you. A good presentation should clearly outline your research process as well as your findings.
Keep in mind that the professors present at your defense have seen hundreds before, and a bit of novelty can go a long way. Consider a layered approach to revealing information. You can hide additional points inside windows as we mentioned in the Interactive Presentation section of this post above. The addition of tasteful animation effects can also keep your audience more engaged. Animation doesn’t need to hurt the formality of your presentation. Try adding some moving elements such as the ones found below:
Are you working with younger students or looking to surprise your audience? We’ve got you covered there too. To get the most out of your presentations try:
- Using a “paint” option to turn your presentations into digital whiteboards where you or your students can circle key points, draw corresponding images and more.
- Inserting games. They can be as simple as word-picture match activities (as seen in page 5 of this book activity for French ESL learners) or as thrilling as a Harry Potter breakout or digital escape room. LearningApps is a good free site where you can make simple games to insert into your presentations.
- Adding your own audios (or ones found online) to a video presentation to narrate it.
- Making your next test a lot more interesting. You can use a fun presentation template as the foundation for your next exam. As always, insert external tools like Google suite options and games. Guide students through your test materials in a way that keeps them engaged and guessing at what comes next.
We hope you’ve come away from this post with a clearer understanding of presentation types and how to best use each one, and most importantly, we hope you leave inspired to impress with your next presentation. If you’d like to make presentations as awesome as the ones you’ve seen, unleash your creativity here. What are you waiting for? We’re rooting for you.
As always, we love reading your feedback and thoughts. If you have any questions or suggestions, get in touch with us via social media by using the hashtag #AskGenially or leave a comment on this post.