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Highly Interactive and Fluid Presentation?

Is it possible to conduct a highly interactive, slide-supported presentation and still maintain a fluid and structured flow? It's a tall order: the two presentation styles appear to be contradictory. It is definitely easier to conduct either an interactive presentation or a structured presentation, but it is possible to be successful at blending both if the subject material is well thought out and the supporting slides developed in a specific manner.

Why would I want to do this?

Highly interactive presentations are usually conducted when much is at stake. Higher-level decisions and commitments are typically made as a result of these types of meetings. Fluid, yet structured, presentations do much to underscore the presenter's credibility and authority on a subject. These are two very specific and worthwhile goals for a presenter, so it stands to reason that the presentation materials should support these goals.

How do I do this?

This type of presentation needs to be developed in two sections: a primary presentation and a backup section. Both are equally important, however. Once both sections are finalized, the primary and backup sections need to be interact.

  • The primary presentation is the shorter of the two sections and needs to be developed in a meticulous and precise manner.

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
Mark Twain

It takes time to refine a storyline to be concise in tone and meaning – rather like boiling it down to its essence. If successful, however, the resulting presentation will have greater impact and take less time to present than the time allotted. It is very important to allow time for discussion and questions and answers in highly interactive presentations.

  • The backup section should contain all the slides that explain and support the statements and data presented in the primary presentation. This section will also take considerable time to develop: identifying possible questions that may arise during the primary presentation and creating the slides to answer those questions. Not all of these slides are likely to be used during the presentation, but being prepared to use them if needed is extremely important.
  • Animate the primary presentation after it is completely written. The animated reveals will help focus the audience's attention on the presenter rather than the screen.
  • Hyperlink the questions that may arise from slides (or areas on slides) in the primary presentation with the answers on slides in the backup section. Then hyperlink the backup slides to return to the primary presentation. The hyperlinks do not disrupt the animation. If a hyperlink is clicked during an animation click sequence, the animation sequence will resume upon returning to and clicking on the slide.

How do I hyperlink the two sections?

Hyperlinking points within a document is extremely easy. It just sounds scary. The steps below will help you navigate through steps.

This will bring up a new menu.

The hyperlink to the explanation slide has been created – easy. After presenting the material on the explanation slide, you'll need to return to the point in the presentation where you left off. Therefore, you'll need to enter another hyperlink.

Some presenters like to attach the hyperlink to a graphic, as was shown above. Other presenters like to put a semitransparent arrow on each slide: forward arrow to to the explanation slide and a backward arrow to the primary presentation. You can choose whichever method makes the most sense to you. This choice becomes a matter of remembering where you need to click during the presentation. If you do not format the hyperlinks yourself, you may not know exactly which part of the slide contains the hyperlink. You don't want to be clicking all over the slide with no results. In that case, you should probably use the arrows. If you are comfortable with the presentation contents and formatting, the hyperlinking graphics makes sense.

Don't be thrown if you need to navigate backward to answer a badly timed question. Use the backward navigation to confirm the origin of the question. Your audience will think this maneuver reasonable.

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Interactive and structured presentations are elegant. The explanations are given as needed: no overkill or wasted time. It is impressive to watch a presenter go to specific information in the presentation on demand. These presentations take extra time to develop, but they also provide extra benefits.