14 Presentation Ideas to Improve Audience Engagement

Updated 10 September 2023

Whether you're a teacher or a salesperson, presentation skills are important requirements in many professions. An important part of delivering presentations is to keep your audience engaged throughout the discussion to ensure they remember your message. If your work involves making presentations, learning about the different strategies you can use to improve your messaging and engage an audience can enhance your performance and results. In this article, we discuss the importance of presentation ideas and provide a list of ideas you can use to make your presentations memorable.

Related: Top 25 Presentation Skills and How to Improve Them

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What is a presentation idea?

A presentation idea is the way you display your presentation to an audience. Many people use computer slides to deliver their presentations, and this can become monotonous if you use generic visuals. This makes it important to know about different ideas you can use to make your presentations engaging and effective. Using creative ideas not only helps your audience better visualise your message, but they can also make you more interesting and help you explain topics in a way that influences the audience to take positive action.

Related: How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (With Tips)

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14 presentation ideas for all types of audiences

Here's a list of 14 presentation ideas you can use for a variety of presentations and audiences:

1. Tell a story

An effective way to keep your audience involved throughout your presentation is to tell a story. Stories are powerful communication tools you can use to share interesting facts, entertain an audience and make your message memorable. Structuring your presentation as a story can make it easier for the audience to understand. It can also make the presentation engaging, even if it's long. To maximise the impact of your story-themed presentation, use creative imagery to help the audience visualise the substance of the story and better connect with you.

Related: What Are Story Maps? (Definition, Uses, Examples and FAQs)

2. Ask questions at pivotal moments

You can make your presentations less predictable by asking questions at crucial moments. Asking a question during a presentation offers several benefits. First, it helps to break the rhythm of the presentation and lets the audience know you're saying something important. By asking questions at crucial times, you make the audience active participants in the discussion, which makes the atmosphere more engaging. While only a few people might answer your questions, the feeling that you expect them to contribute to the discussion can encourage them to be more attentive throughout the presentation.

Related: How to Give an Interview Presentation (With Tips to Prepare)

3. Use bold colours

Colours play an important role in presentations. Bright, flashy colours can distract and make it difficult for the audience to focus on your message. Consider bold colours, as these are less distracting and ensure that you use a consistent colour theme for all the slides in your presentation. A black-and-white colour scheme works for all types of presentations. You can add some bright colours at the margins to make the slides visually appealing.

4. Get creative with background themes

Another way to make your presentations outstanding is to use a specific background theme throughout. You can choose from thousands of background themes, including images of famous landmarks, such as buildings, mountains, rivers and the photo of a proposed product that's the focus of the presentation. When choosing background themes, it's important to ensure that the colours contrast the text so that the audience can see and read the words on the slides without difficulty.

5. Use humour

Infusing humour in your presentations can make them more enjoyable for people. Using humour doesn't necessarily mean making jokes in the middle of the presentation. It means being personable, cheerful and lighthearted with your delivery. Humour can be an effective way to start a conversation on a positive note. It not only helps everybody in attendance to relax, but humour can also make the audience more receptive to your ideas, which allows you to influence them positively.

6. Refer to your slides briefly

Your presentation slides aren't for you to read from, but they're there to help the audience understand your points. If you keep looking up to read from your slides, there's a high chance the audience might think you're unprepared for the presentation. When both the presenter and the audience are reading from the same slides, both parties are going to be distracted.

A distracted audience can't understand what you're saying, and this reduces the chances you can influence them to take a desired action. This makes it vital to prepare adequately for your presentation and only use your slides to highlight important points you want the audience to remember as you deliver your message.

Related: 10 Helpful Tips for Communication Skills in the Workplace

7. Present abstract ideas with visuals

An innovative way to get creative with your presentations is to use visuals to present abstract messages. Instead of using bullet points, create visually rich graphs, charts and other diagrammatic representations to portray messages you can't explain with words. This not only helps you condense large amounts of information into a few slides, but visuals can also help your audience have a deeper understanding of what you're saying.

8. Insert speech bubbles to represent key points

Inserting the occasional speech bubble into your slides can communicate important points to your audience. They can appear as your own personal commentary, explain a key fact in a timeline or reveal poll results. Speech bubbles add creative flair to your presentation and help keep the audience engaged.

9. Include new transition strategies to move from slide to slide

A classic presentation style is to use slide-by-slide style displays, but there are more modern and interactive approaches to presenting information to your audience. You can use online tools that allow you to zoom in and out of each point on a slide, turn your bullet points into a scrolling illustration or make transitions between slides appear as scenes or pathways. It's a vivid way to display information and can create a more cinematic experience for your audience.

10. Use video to tell your story

Using visuals such as videos to tell your story provides you with a chance to break up some of the text that the audience sees on most slides. After presenting a few slides of textual information, consider adding a video to your presentation to regain your viewers' focus and help them engage with the topic.

You can set up a video so that it plays as soon as you click on the slide or include a picture to represent the video and add a link to the picture so that it takes you directly to the video when you click on it.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

11. Insert audio clips

You can add audio to your presentation by creating a pre-made audio recording. If you have other tangible elements, such as graphs, or want to pass out worksheets or candy, consider using pre-recorded audio. You can play it while setting up or passing out items so that the audience is still engaged in the presentation while you multitask. Another way you can add audio to your presentation is by including a song. Before you begin your presentation or towards the end, a song can add a sentimental effect and help to establish the mood you're trying to convey.

12. Include different maps

If your presentation involves a geographic location, consider adding a map to your presentation. You can use one map as the background theme and then have different regions on the map appear as you move through the slides. Each time you change the focus to a new region, you can zoom in on a new area on the map. This helps your audience visualise the places you're referencing.

You can also use thinking maps, which are learning tools that help you visualise new concepts such as sequencing events, categorising, classifying or comparing items. Thinking maps are a simple but creative way to help the audience understand a part of the presentation that may have been more challenging to comprehend without a visual aid.

13. Create a visually appealing cover slide

Your cover slide is the first slide your audience sees when you begin your presentation. Try to be creative when creating it by adding fun graphics such as memes, captions or an uplifting audio file. If you can get their attention early in the presentation, you're more likely to be able to persuade them to engage with you throughout the presentation.

14. Give out tangible materials

Handing out printouts allows the audience to have a tangible piece of your presentation in front of them. This can include a business card, a printout of each slide with space for them to take notes, a brochure or a sticky note for them to write questions they have. Some presenters like to entertain their audience by passing out candy to people who are actively participating in the presentation. If the presenter is asking the audience questions or trying to promote engagement, this can encourage more people to take part.

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