5 Steps to Nailing an Interactive Virtual Presentation in 2021


Why is it that we spend our weekends on wide-eyed, 15-hour Netflix binges, but spend our Mondays dozing off during a 30-minute meeting?

Our favourite TV shows are centered around us, the viewers. They take us on emotional joyrides that leave us breathless for more.

Presentations, on the other hand, are not. They’re about a speaker and an idea, right? 

Well, it’s time to flip the script.

The continued rise of remote work and remote meetings means that not remotely interesting presentations have got to end. Interactive virtual presentations engage your audience in order to boost attention, understanding, memory and agreement of your topic.

Come with us as we take a look at the why and how to make an interactive virtual presentation in 2021.

Let’s take a look at…


What is an Interactive Virtual Presentation?

An interactive virtual presentation is a presentation, happening online, that uses certain tools to let the audience react with the subject matter.

Polls, word clouds and quizzes are all examples of these interactive tools. At the point the presenter wants to engage the audience, they can use any of these tools to gather and show the opinions and knowledge of their audience.

For example, let’s say that you’re making a presentation about the state of British ducks between 1948 and 1960 (what, too niche?)

You want to test your audience’s knowledge of the topic right at the start. Engage them head on with a question like…

“Between 1948 and 1960, how many British tufted ducks were born?”

Ask that question on interactive virtual presentation software, and people will be able to answer directly with their smartphones. In fact, it might look something like this…

Congratulations! You’ve just got people engaged with your presentation.

A multiple choice poll like this is the most simple way to get people paying attention to your slides. Boosting interactivity across the virtual presentation sphere can help in other ways as well…

Why Go Interactive with Virtual Presentations?

Well, do you care more about the state of British ducks between 1948 and 1960 now? Even if you don’t necessarily care more, the numbers say that a little bit of interactivity like this can boost a whole lot more in your audience:

  • Memory – If you show your interactive presentation to an audience, around 66% of participants will remember its contents compared with a one-way presentation.
  • Persuasion – Want to change some minds? 65% of presentation audiences are more easily swayed by two-way interaction.
  • Understanding – Interaction in virtual presentations comes mostly in the form of bars and charts. Audiences process visuals like these 60,000 times faster than text alone.
  • Future-proof – We’re rapidly heading into a remote work future. Interaction plays a huge part in reigning in the distractions of working from home.

(Coincidentally, if you do care about the state of British ducks between 1948 and 1960, you’re going to love the rest of this article!)

How to Make an Interactive Virtual Presentation that Pops

Time to set you up with a skill for both now and the future.

We’re not only going to show you how to make an interactive virtual presentation in 5 steps, but also how to present one and what to do with your findings afterwards.

Let’s dive straight in…

Step 1: Create your Interactive Slides

Planning is not traditionally the most exciting part of a presentation, but things are different when you go interactive. Making and arranging slides that prod your audience to offer their own input can actually be supremely satisfying (for slide nerds like us, anyway!)

First, you want to figure out exactly what kind of interactive elements you want. Are you starting with a poll? Gathering ideas with a word cloud? Quizzing your audience on what they’ve learned? Holding a Q&A session at the end?

We looked at multiple choice above, so let’s check out other kinds of slides that can be absolute dynamite for an interactive virtual presentation:

#1 – Word Cloud

Word clouds are great for collecting super short ideas from your audience. Not only that, but they display words according to the popularity of that word.

In the example above, more people wrote ‘cute’ than anything else, meaning that the word appears the largest on the slide. Words get progressively smaller the less that they were submitted by your audience.

#2 – Scales

Scale slides are a great way to determine your audience’s prior knowledge of a subject before diving into talking about it.

Simply pose a question, offer some statements and let your audience rate those statements on a sliding scale. These 3 parts in the example above are…

  1. Question – ‘How familiar are you with the populations of these British ducks between 1948 and 1960?’
  2. Statements – Mallards (blue), pochards (yellow) and tufted ducks (green).
  3. Sliding scale – ‘Not at all familiar’ (1), to ‘very familiar’ (5).

The resulting graph shows how many times each number on the sliding scale, between 1 and 5, was chosen for each statement. The numbers in the circles are the averages for each statement.

Besides familiarity with a subject, a scale slide can also measure agreement, importance, frequency and so much more.

👊 Protip: You can check out heaps more use cases for scale slides in this article.

#3 – Quiz

What’s more engaging than a bit of competition? A quiz is the element of interaction that you need most in your presentations.

Quizzes not only test understanding after you’ve presented a topic, but even a small hint of competition is enough to get the quietest audiences engaging with fervour.

In the realms of interactive virtual presentations, they’re absolute gold dust.

Editor’s Pick: The Best Interactive Presentation Software

All of the examples above are from AhaSlides, a free piece of interactive presentation software that brings presenters and their audiences together through polls, brainstorms, games, quizzes and more.

You show your interactive presentation online, your audience responds on their phones. Breezy.

The software is completely free for presentations with small audiences of less than 7. If you’re presenting to more, you can opt for a one-time or monthly plan for as little as $2.95.

⭐ For a limited time AhaSlides is offering 25% off all plans exclusively for Remo users and readers! Click the link below and use the code REMO2021 to start nailing your interactive presentations for less!

Step 2: Choose your Video Presentation Software

With your presentation in the bag, it’s time to choose the video software through which you’re going to present it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; Zoom is the obvious choice, right? For tedious, one-way presentations, sure, but what if you want to integrate your video presentation software with interactive elements?

There are plenty of options out there, but the best ones offer features such as…

  • Q&A – A question and answer session should take up about 40 minutes of an hour-long presentation. The best bits of presentation software have in-built Q&A sections that allow the audience to submit questions and upvote the ones they want answered.
  • Audience participation – The ability to call members of the audience up to the ‘stage’ can be super useful. It’s ideal for panel discussions and getting other experts to present part of the presentation.
  • Video sharing – You probably already know this, but video is a hugely engaging medium. The best bits of presentation kit let you share a video right next to your face on ‘stage’, meaning that, without having to switch windows, you can play, pause and comment on it with your audience.
  • App integrations – Whiteboard apps, wireframing apps, note apps; they’re all part of the arsenal of interactive tools for a virtual presentation. These apps are built into the top bits of online presentation software and are usually free for you and your audience to use together.

Editor’s Pick: The Best Video Presentation Software

Remo has all of the above interactive elements and more. For two-way presentations, as well as expos, networking and even hybrid events, Remo offers a chance to chat amongst small tables and speak to larger crowds.

In presentation mode, you can invite audience members to the stage, answer audience questions, poll them or share videos with them in-window.

Start your free 14-day trial by clicking the button below!

Step 3: Check the Technology

Naturally, you want to ensure that this smorgasbord of virtual interaction software is going to work seamlessly when it’s game time.

Thoroughly testing every piece of software you’re going to use is a crucial step before you plough ahead with the show.

👊 Protip: Make sure to get backup plans for each bit of software you’re going to use and test these, too!

Here’s how to do it:

On software that uses smartphone devices to respond to your slides, it’s usually possible to see the participant’s view. This is what each audience member will see once they’ve joined your presentation through a unique URL or QR code on their phone.

To test it, simply click on the ‘participant view’ button and react to your own slides with the on-screen demo phone.

Alternatively, you can join your own presentation on your own phone and test out how the interactivity works.

In the case of your video presentation software, it’s a simple matter of testing its capability to handle your camera and mic. We recommend joining your own presentation on at least 2 other devices to make sure you and everyone else can be seen and heard.

Besides that, you’ll want to check every interactive feature on the presenter side. Namely, that’s the screen share, video share, Q&A, invite to stage and integrated app features that you plan to use.

👊 Protip: Don’t forget to test your participants’ view on your video presentation software. They’ll have different options to you, the presenter, so it’s best to know what they can do!

Step 4: Present!

The big day is here. Your lobby is full of British duck enthusiasts just waiting for a riveting presentation.

You’ve tested your main software and your backups, so the rest of your interactive virtual presentation is up to you.

Here’s a couple of tips that might help…

Tip #1 – Don’t over-engage 

Getting your audience involved in a presentation is great, but overdoing it leads to fatigue and annoyance.

Try this: present your interactive slides at the start and the end of a section. The goal should be for the audience to go from a ‘rate your prior knowledge’ slide to a pop quiz, with all the information they need to do so in between.

That’s not to say you can’t use other forms of interaction in between, but don’t forget the whole purpose of your presentation is to offer information, not to gather it.

Tip #2 – Make it short

Ever heard of the 10, 20, 30 rule? It’s the golden principle of presentations to ensure your audience doesn’t drop to sleep mid-presentation.

Designed for sales pitches, Guy Kawasaki’s 10, 20, 30 rule is about using no more than 10 slides, taking no more than 20 minutes and using nothing more than a 30-point font throughout.

Even if you’re not making a sales pitch, it’s best to keep it short. The general idea of the 10, 20, 30 rule is to cut out the nonsense and be as brief and direct as possible with your audience.

There plenty of ways to create a video presentation. It’s always imperative to test before going live with a large audience. Experimenting and rehearsing before going live is always a great way to prepare and see what method works best for your video presentation.

Step 5: Keep the Data

Congratulations, you’ve nailed your interactive virtual presentation! That would have been an unthinkable achievement even a few years ago, but you’ve now got a super valuable skill for a truly remote future.

Where do you go from here? Well, back to square one.

There are always improvements you can make to your virtual presenting skills. Hence, it’s best to review screen recordings and slide data to see where you truly nailed it and could have been more engaging.

1. Saving and Reviewing your Recorded Presentation

The majority of video presentation software gives you the option to record your presentation.

Looking back on this could give you telling pointers about the confidence, tone and engagement you offered up to your audience.

From a structural point of view, recordings can also help you see which sections of your presentation deserved more time than others.

👊 Protip: Watching your own presentation back can be mortifying. Trust us, it’s much easier (and more effective) to show your recording to a friend or colleague in order to get pointers. 

2. Exporting your Response Data

What your audience says matters. That’s why you’ll want a permanent record of participants’ response data from your slides and Q&A session.

Many bits of interactive presentation software allow you to do two things:

  1. Save the images of your post-presentation slides. These slides will have all the answers that your audience submitted to your questions.
  2. Save the raw data of your post-presentation slides in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet reveals polling numbers, word cloud submissions, quiz results, Q&A questions and every other bit of data you could want.

3. Bonus Tip: Ask the Audience!

Who’s in a better position to review your presentation than the audience who just sat through it?

In cordial settings, it’s always a great idea to make a super quick survey about what your participants liked and what they didn’t. Offer a link to it at the end of your presentation (or, better yet, in the follow-up email) to gain some seriously valuable insights.

On the same interactive presentation software you used for your slides, you should be able to create a survey that participants can fill in without you being there.

To do this, simply choose the option to let the audience take the lead.

…and then what?

Rinse and repeat.

Like we said, learning how to make an interactive virtual presentation is really going to set you up for the rapidly approaching future of work.

Once you’ve made it through the five steps above, don’t stop there. Take what you’ve learned from step 5 and reapply it to your next attempt at step 1.

At AhaSlides, we’ve been on this ride for a long time, but we’re still learning something new from every presentation we give!

Start creating your own interactive slides with 25% off all plans (free plan also available!) Just click the link below and use the discount code REMO2021 at checkout.


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