Interactive PowerPoint Presentation Design

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 , , , 6 comments

interactive-powerpoint-presentationMost PowerPoint presentations are linear, and at worst presenters simply march through slides with little real interaction with the audience. An interactive PowerPoint presentation can involve the audience, more accurately address the audience’s interests, and allow the audience to raise objections and have these addressed.

How can PowerPoint presentations be made interactive? We list some ideas for you to try.


Ask questions. It sounds obvious, but a lot of presenters will have a fixed set of information they want to present, and deliver this information almost regardless of circumstance. Yet, not all audiences are interested in the same material, and often too little time is spent on the things the audience care about.

When presenting to a small group, make sure to gain an insight into what the audience want to hear about. The easiest way to do this is through good old-fashioned dialogue, initiated by the presenter asking questions. Then, from within a larger deck of slides, simply hide those you don’t need to present, or skip to those you do. Anticipate by preparing slides that answer the most frequently asked questions.


Use hyperlinks. Typically, a presentation will be delivered from the first slide to the last slide in a linear fashion. An interactive PowerPoint presentation allows flexibility – slides can be presented in any order, without having to exit show mode, find the next slide, and then hit F5. The best way to create flexibility in presentation structure is to create index slides – for different products, services, features, or benefits. Hyperlink from each item to a sequence of slides, and end the section with a hyperlinked repeat of the index slide.

If hyperlinks are too complex for your PowerPoint skills, this effect can be hacked by remembering that when in show mode, entering a slide number then hitting enter goes direct to that slide. Put your first sequence of slides at slide 10, your second at slide 20, and so on. Not elegant – but easy. Or, to learn how to create these properly, you could attend our Advanced PowerPoint Training course.


Sketch and annotate. Don’t just present your slides – write and draw all over them. For pre-planned additions, it might make sense to just use animation to introduce new elements to a slide. But, for real spontaneity, and to respond to unexpected audience questions and comments, draw on your slides. This can be done easily in PowerPoint using a mouse (in show mode with PowerPoint 2003, right-click on the slide, select pointer options, then select a pen type), or use a tool such as Papershow if you want to use a real (Bluetooth) pen and paper (covered in tiny dots).

Audience Response Tools

Use an audience response tool such as TurningPoint (when face-to-face), or use the voting functionality built into most online meeting software. Audience response systems provide a great opportunity to guage opinion at conferences, or to check understanding in training presentations. Combine audience response with hyperlinks so that different material is presented on the responses the audience gives (for example, extra training material if the audience don’t answer questions correctly).


Set a challenge. Trade Extensions sell software that finds the best solution to (sometimes complex) business problems. One difficulty the company faced when writing a new presentation with m62 was in showing prospects that often they thought problems were easy to solve when in fact they weren’t. Trade Extensions worked with m62 to design a simple puzzle with which to start their presentation. Sometimes, they even offer cash prizes in return for a correct solution – which draws the audience in to engage with the subject matter.

Live graphs

Collect and display audience data. Ask the audience a question, and use a graph to display the responses. Prepare a PowerPoint graph built around dummy data, and then enter real data into the spreadsheet used to build the graph when face-to-face with the audience. This technique can be used to show how an audience compares to average, and can generate useful insight, as well as serve as a starting point for further discussion.

Back channels

For Silicon Valley, or for those with audiences who just can’t concentrate on one thing at a time… Consider opening a “back channel” for your audience members to communicate with each other and comment on your presentation in real time. Use a hash tag (#) with Twitter, and project tweets with that tag in real time on a screen alongside your slides. This technique will mean giving up any control over what your audience pays attention to (phone, slides, presenter, Twitter feed), and so should be used with extreme caution. We really wouldn’t recommend it if you want your messages to be remembered. In addition, if your presentation goes wrong, remember that all the negative comments will be projected behind you, which may not be everyone’s idea of fun.

This article has listed seven ways to make a PowerPoint presentation interactive. Do you have any other ideas? Please share in the comments below.

Share this page:

The Ultimate Guide to Sales Presentations

6 Comments to Interactive PowerPoint Presentation Design

  1. #1

    Muhammad Ali

    3:10 pm, December 4th, 2010

    i wana know how to make a presentation on sales in power point.

  2. #2

    Joby Blume

    10:11 am, December 6th, 2010

    Muhammad – you have come to the right place.

    We have an entire section on sales presentations – just look up at the very top of the page and you’ll see the link. Getting on for 100 posts about sales presentations. We also have full tutorials on using PowerPoint, so just explore and you should find what you are looking for. If you have specific requests, ask and we’ll see what we can do.

  3. #3


    5:41 pm, December 7th, 2010

    Is there an easy way to integrate audience response features in order determine the flow of the presentation when the presentation is not being given by a person? For instance, if I wanted to add a customized, denyamic presentation to my website that would guide a visitor to the perfect solution for them through a series of multiple choice questions, what is the best way to do that?

  4. #4

    Jessica Pyne

    10:30 am, December 9th, 2010

    It depends on what you want, Triniti. If you want the audience member to choose a path through your presentation, you can use hyperlinks to allow the user to select what they view next, and thus to guide them through content most suited to them. For more information, check out our Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2003 or Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2007 tutorials. There is also software available to make navigating through a presentation easier – have a look at our review of SlideDynamic, for example.

    However, if you actually want a scoring system based on choices, you will require a plug-in. We reviewed PowerQuizPoint, an add-on that provides this kind of functionality.

    And of course, if you are intending on adding a presentation to your website, it will have to be converted to a suitable format. So it is important to test any plug-in you use in its converted state, as well as in the PowerPoint file itself.

    I hope you find this useful, Triniti – any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  5. #5


    8:25 pm, October 8th, 2012

    what is an interactive powerpoint and instructions how to use it? i cant find it anywhere

  6. #6

    Jessica Pyne

    9:58 am, October 15th, 2012

    Hi Dan,

    Our interactive presentations use hyperlinks to move between different slides in the presentation. If you’re unsure how to insert hyperlinks into your presentation, I’d suggest watching our Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2003 or Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2007 tutorials. Please let me know if you have further questions after watching these!