The speaker walked into the room, tapped the microphone, ducked for cover at the high-pitched screech his tapping produced, laughed mechanically, swallowed audibly, mumbled something, and began stuttering.
It all went downhill from there. The most interesting part of the presentation was over.
While he strung word upon flat word, I looked around the room. A sea of heads bobbing to the rhythms of heavy eyes. No one could stay awake, let alone evaluate any of the points the speaker was making. And that was a pity.
It was a real pity because I knew from personal experience that the speaker was brilliant at this work. But his presentation that day was convincing no one of his brilliance. Even worse, it wasn't inspiring a single person in that room to take action towards hiring him as the expert in his field.
Winning at business is as much about being good at what you do as it's about presenting the brilliance of your work in an intelligent, attractive, and well-packaged way. Because if no one can see your brilliance, how will anyone ever know they need your services?
To put it differently: a well-kept secret cannot win popularity.
And a brilliant business under wraps cannot earn you any money.
Which means that as a small business owner you’ll have to give presentations about your work. Awesome, brilliant, and intriguing presentations of your work.
Whether you’re presenting a proposal to prospective clients, presenting the results of your work at a professional conference, or presenting before a panel of potential investors, your goal remains the same: to inspire your audience. Inspire trust in them regarding your work that'll lead to action you can transform into income for your business.
What makes for an inspirational presentation versus one that puts everyone to sleep?
The following 15 creative presentation ideas will help you put together a riveting presentation that keeps your audience glued to your speech.
Guide to Making Great Presentations (Free eBook Download)
Also, before you dig into this article, be sure to download our FREE eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It'll help you with the complete presentation process, taking the fun presentation ideas you'll learn in this article further.
15 Creative Presentation Ideas
1. Tell a Story
The human brain has been designed to respond to stories as both a survival mechanism (Don’t leave the cave! Big mammoth prowling the area!) and an entertainment mechanism (...and then, when the mammoth got near, I jumped out from my hiding place, branches attached to me and all, and started bellowing like a ferocious beast…). And that double role has helped develop it into one of the most powerful communication tools humans have known.
Story is how we perceive and process the world of facts around us.
Stories are much more interesting than facts because stories entertain us. Storytelling grabs and maintains attention. It helps the audience understand and remember what was said long after the story’s over.
Instead of presenting your work solely as a series of facts (budgets, figures, breakdowns) that'll bore even the most kind-hearted audiences out of their minds, organize your facts into a story.
And use a professional design, with captivating photo layouts and graphics, to help connect your audience visually to your story, such as the stylish Polarity PowerPoint Template:
What interesting connections can you make between your facts? What story can you build around them that'll help your audience stay engaged from start to finish? Tell them that!
Learn more about the presentation writing process:
- PresentationsHow to Write a Professional PowerPoint Presentation (Discover the Writing Process)Brad Smith
2. Ask Questions at Crucial Moments
Statements sound trite and expected. Especially during a presentation. Since a presentation essentially consists of a series of statements strung together, one more statement isn’t likely to intrigue the audience—not even an exceptional one.
But what if you ask a question instead?
A question breaks up your regular presentation rhythm and helps mark what you’re saying as important. More than that, a question turns your presentation from a passive story into an active quest that the audience can explore on their own through their answers.
Answering a question (even if only in their heads) makes your audience feel involved in your presentation and keeps their interest glued to your words.
3. Organize Your Presentation Into 3 Clear Points
The number three has been considered somewhat of a magical number in many cultures since antiquity. Something about things in threes fascinates the human mind and helps it retain information better: body, mind, and soul; lock, stock, and barrel; pb and j (two ingredients, but three consonants in this abbreviated form); blood, sweat, and tears.
Magical or not, the number three works like a charm. At the end of the presentation, we can all remember three things that were said.
So instead of leaving those precious three things to luck, why not take charge and organize your presentation into three main points or takeaways? Then you can be sure that your audience is paying attention to the important things and not the insignificant details.
Even if you’re making more than three points, which you likely will be, you can find ways to organize all your minor points into three main categories. That way, you can easily address and summarize the gist of your presentation at the end.
Cost, timeline, results. Problem, suggestions, solution. Beginning, middle, and end. Just remember to divide it into three!
4. Break It Up With Humor
Humor makes the world go around. And the same holds true for the business world. At the end of the day, no one likes to work with a stiff.
So even when you’re presenting in front of a “serious” client or investor, remember to use humor in your presentation. This doesn’t mean you've got to crack jokes the entire time. It simply means being cheerful, lighthearted, and personable.
Humor not your strong point? No worries. You can find presentations on creating presentations with humor!
While it can be challenging to nail just the right tone with your use of humor it's one of the best presentation ideas to work on. Humor works to break the ice between you and your audience. It helps put everyone at ease, feel friendly, and well-disposed towards you (which can lead to improved results from your presentation). And it also helps open people up to the fun presentation ideas you’re offering in your presentation.
5. Design Your PowerPoint for Persuasion, Not Distraction
Design a PowerPoint with purpose. Not a PowerPoint that simply fills the empty wall behind you. Or a PowerPoint that repeats your presentation in bullet-point format. Those types of PPTs are useless.
What you want to do instead is create a PowerPoint that complements your presentation. That completes it as a narrative story.
That means selecting a PowerPoint presentation design that best fits your narrative structure. Good presentation ideas are easily lost in a mediocre design. You need presentation slides that highlight your innovative ideas.
And it also means using quotes, key phrases, images, and other visual elements that support and enhance, not overwrite your presentation’s persuasive powers.
Think of your PowerPoint as a way to guide your audience through your presentation while keeping them engaged and focused at every moment.
Find great PowerPoint templates on Envato Market (GraphicRiver) to help you start your presentation with professional design slides. Browse through the creative, trending PPT themes featured below and learn how to customize the slides to your presentation post purchase:
- Presentations20+ Creative PowerPoint Templates - For Presenting Your Innovative IdeasSean Hodge
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Create a PowerPoint Presentation From a PPT TemplateSven Lenaerts
Don't forget to get our Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. This 30-page PDF eBook is available to download now for free, when you sign up to the Tuts+ Business newsletter.
6. Don’t Read From Your Slides
Reading from a slide that everyone in the room can see (and read for themselves) is boring and makes you look unprepared. Your PowerPoint isn’t there to remind you what to say, but to help your audience better understand the point you're making.
When you read off your PPT presentation, your audience will inevitably read along with you. And it's been shown that our minds wander 20-40% of the time while reading.
That means that while you’re reading your slides, your audience is traveling down distraction lane wondering if they’ve left the iron on or what they're having for dinner. And that’s not what you want them to be thinking about!
Keep the text of your slides short and only use it to highlight important points you’re making or to mark the headlines of different sections of your presentation.
Your slides should never be a crutch to your presentation when you can’t remember what to say. And they should never contain more than a few lines of text on them.
Slides aren't for reading, but for emphasizing your points quickly.
7. Use Visuals to Ground Abstract Ideas
If you can’t use a million bullet points to summarize your presentation on your slides, then what should your slides contain?
Visuals! Lots of visuals!
Graphs, charts, and pies that illustrate your point and help emphasize it. Also, include images that make an impact on the audience and make the gist of your argument memorable.
There’s a difference between saying that your solution will cut costs by 20% and showing what that looks like on a graph with real numbers. It helps bring the idea from the abstract domain of theory into the concrete domain of facts.
And don’t just stick to traditional presentation visuals. This isn’t 1998, after all. Remember that cool presentation ideas today aren't the same as a decade ago.
Bring your presentation into the current era by including a variety of your visual elements. Using graphics, emojis, and even gifs where appropriate will help give currency to your presentation and bring it to life.
Here’s one of our most popular PowerPoint templates, The X Note. It includes a number of innovative slide design options, from photo layouts, to timelines, and more:
Discover the best PowerPoint templates with great infographics in this curated article:
- Microsoft PowerPoint20 Best Infographic PowerPoint Presentation Templates—With Great PPT Data SlidesSean Hodge
8. Highlight Important Points With Visual Metaphors
Visuals, whether emojis, graphics, or images, shouldn’t be used gratuitously in your presentation. Instead, everything you put into your slideshow should have a specific purpose.
A powerful way to use images is through visual metaphors. Don’t just tell your client that with your plan new followers will come to them like bees to honey. Illustrate it with an image to help the point stick in their mind.
Visual images of a situation we’re already familiar with help retain points longer in our memory. They give us something easy to refer to.
9. Make Your Examples Personal
Another creative presentation idea is to personalize your talk for the specific audience you’re talking to on each occasion. Whether a prospective client, an audience at a conference, or a potential investor, you can always adjust and personalize your presentation experience to the specific audience.
Give examples in your presentation that involve the audience and show how your solution will benefit them.
People may not care (or may think they don’t care) about your solution or talk if it just discusses the general. But the minute people realize that something can directly affect and benefit them personally, they start paying attention!
Show your audience the direct effects of your presentation by including them in your examples, and you’ll have their full attention and work your way halfway to that yes!
10. Add Music!
This may not be common practice in most presentations you've seen, but it's been proven to work by science. According to research done by Ronald A. Berk of The John Hopkins University, “Music embedded throughout a PowerPoint presentation can sustain attention, while slipping the content into long-term memory.”
And it isn’t new science! We’ve all known this for many decades. Case in point: can you think of how many movies you’ve seen in your lifetime that had no music? I’ll give you a hint: Zero!
Ever since we discovered how to add sound to movies, we’ve not only been recording dialogue but also music from them. Because music helps set the mood, gives the right emotional effect, and adds excitement.
What's another way you can use music? To lighten up the mood and give everyone a mini dance break!
However you decide to use it, the addition of music can make for a really cool presentation that stands out in your audience’s mind.
So, try this innovative presentation idea and add the appropriate music to your next presentation to help bring it to life.
11. Build for Big Rooms
As you explore unique topics for a presentation, it’s easy to get caught up in the big idea. But that should never distract you from key tactical details. Chances are, as you build your slides, you’re working on a single screen. That means you might forget that major PowerPoint presentations are delivered in large spaces.
What looks great on your screen may be impossible to read for a viewer standing in the back of a lecture hall. Or, your slide might be too crowded, just like we’ve already seen. The takeaway here is to always build presentations for big rooms.
That means to keep slides neat and clean, use large and readable fonts, and linger on each slide to give every viewer the chance to absorb it. No matter what presentation topics you’re discussing, taking your time really helps audiences engage with your creative mission.
Also, be sure to explore contrast: often, dark backgrounds and light text are more readable than the reverse. As you can see in this slide from The X Note PowerPoint Template, contrast is easier on the eyes. It also delivers bold and unconventional styling to your slide deck! Truly, a win-win for you and your team.
No matter what you choose, take care to allow viewers to see and understand your inspirational presentation topics—even from a distance.
12. Watch Your Animations
Many presentation topics will include a lot of different slides. And each of those slides might hold several different types of content. Thanks to PowerPoint, it’s easy to add custom animations and transitions with just a few clicks.
These motions really pull your audience in by unveiling new items with a cool flourish. Plus, they’ll help you bring focus to key areas and ensure viewers engage with you.
But you need to be careful. Animations and slide transitions can be very distracting. Too much wild motion and you’ll just make your audience dizzy. Instead, opt for clean and simple movements that don’t detract from your narrative. Fades and pushes are top choices for stylish and simple animations. Things like spins, stars, and wheels are options to avoid.
It’s just as important to organize your animations. If they happen at the wrong time, or in the wrong order, it can absolutely derail your presentation in a flash. Luckily, this is amazingly easy to avoid. In fact, learn to do it in just 60 seconds with our quick tutorial!
13. Style With SmartArt
PowerPoint is built to bring your fun presentation ideas to life. One great way is by using SmartArt. We’ve already looked at some infographics and charts you may find built into PowerPoint templates. SmartArt takes this to a higher level. In just a few clicks, you can build your very own custom infographics on any slide. Let’s add SmartArt to a slide.
SmartArt lives on the Insert tab on PowerPoint’s ribbon. You’ll find it under the Illustrations group. To add SmartArt, simply click on the button and launch the menu seen here.
You’ll see several creative categories for how to present ideas. These include pyramids, pictures, relationships, hierarchies, cycles, and more. You can simply click on one, then fill in your relevant information. PowerPoint includes a host of built-in design options to help you fully customize your fun presentation ideas. For example, you can add new steps to a process chart. Or, you can change SmartArt colors to precisely match your branding.
Of course, like any slide feature, overusing SmartArt can distract. But, when used carefully, it’s a powerful tool to visualize relationships. Many infographics take a numerical focus, whereas SmartArt is more about ideas and how they connect with each other.
For more on using SmartArt, check out our post and screencast showing you exactly how to get started!
14. Align Objects
Design for persuasion, not distraction. Organize. Use visuals. All those are big creative presentation ideas we’ve already explored. But they don’t tell the full story. Let’s build a slide in the Neo PowerPoint Template to show you what I mean.
See the slide below? It features a cool infographic and bold text blocks. It’s also a mess. Nothing is aligned, and content is thrown all around the slide. Any self-respecting viewer will take a single look and recognize sloppy work when they see it. All it takes is a few clicks to totally transform the layout.
Alignment means just what it says: pieces of content on the slide are neatly arranged relative to 1) the borders of the slide and 2) other content. As you can see here, changing up this layout makes the very same slide instantly appear neat and clean. The audience will now focus on the content, not your messy style.
15. Close Strong!
So, you’ve delivered an amazing presentation and shared stunning slides along the way. Now it’s time to wrap up with a strong finish. No matter how good your slide deck, it’s absolutely key to recap and summarize at the end. After all, that’s one of the best ways to ensure retention and action.
There are a few things to keep in mind. Remember how you should organize your presentation into three clear points? It’s time to revisit those.
Highlight key points, touching on each one and briefly recapping how it fits into the overall message. This locks your message into memory. As you can see in this slide from our MILD PowerPoint Template, a single slide will do the trick.
For maximum effect, introduce a simple animation that displays the bullets one at a time. That keeps your audience focused and prevents them from skipping forward. These interesting presentation topics for work truly drove the entire slide deck; give them the attention they deserve.
The other big element of a strong close is the call to action. Chances are, you’re sharing slides in order to get an audience reaction. If it’s simply to educate them, your three clear points will suffice. But if you’re, say, fundraising or recruiting, the close is where you make your “ask:” the call for the audience to do something.
The call to action follows all the normal rules you now know well. Make it clear, bold, and concise. Make your intentions known and make your pitch inspirational. Like any good cause, people need to believe in you and your message.
How to Come Up With Interesting Presentation Topics (With Creative Examples)
Presentations have a place in nearly every environment. In this section, I'll share my favorite template options that give you fun presentation ideas. You'll see that there are templates for practically every purpose that you can use to launch your next presentation.
In the educational world, teachers and students alike put their presentation topics in PowerPoint presentations. When you're cramming for a presentation in the educational world, you need creative presentation topics to be successful. Check out these two articles with ideas for educational and scientific presentation ideas.
- Presentations25 Education PowerPoint Templates - For Great School PresentationsSean Hodge
- Microsoft PowerPoint25 Best Science & Technology PowerPoint Templates With High-Tech Designs for 2019Laura Spencer
Next up, maybe you've heard of a pitch deck. This is a specific type of presentation that startups and founders use to launch a new company or business. Because your potential investors have already seen every idea under the sun, it helps to use creative presentation topics to frame your company differently. Try these templates show you how to present an idea for a new company.
- SlideShareHow to Write Great Pitch Decks (With Powerful Storytelling Techniques)Brenda Barron
- Pitching22 Best Free PowerPoint Pitch Deck Templates (For 2019)Andrew Childress
Another popular arena for presenting creative presentation topics is in marketing PowerPoints. No matter what you're marketing, you can use these two resources to put together creative presentations with a solid approach:
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Make Pro Marketing Plan PowerPoint PresentationsAndrew Childress
- Presentations25 Marketing PowerPoint Templates: Best PPTs to Present Your Plans in 2019Sean Hodge
No matter what type of presentation you're building, using a template is one of the best ways to get creative presentation ideas. You'll find pre-built slides that spark the writing process.
How to Create Unique Topics For a Presentation
Still not inspired? It's possible to use techniques to generate interesting presentation topics for work.
Here are three tips that I use to generate presentation topics:
- Start with brainstorming. At first, you don't need to create structured ideas. A piece of paper and a pen away from your daily distractions can help you generate creative presentation topics. I typically start with a freeform mindmap, connecting ideas that I want to share with my audience. Naturally, connections between these ideas will form and the story will develop naturally.
- Draw on personal experience. While not every presentation is personal in nature, connecting the topic to your personal experience is a powerful storytelling tool. Think about how your personal story connects to the topic to generate creative presentation ideas.
Take an unconventional view. Even if it isn't your personal view, thought-provoking presentations sometimes take unconventional views. You don't have to take a controversial topic to take an unconventional view; instead, take a commonly accepted belief and challenge it to get creative.
Dig deep and you might be surprised how many creative presentation topics you might be able to generate. Creative presentation topics are easier to generate when you use this three-step approach.
Make Your Next Presentation Memorable!
Simply presenting the facts makes for a baseline presentation. If your purpose is to impress, convince, and convert your audience with your presentation, then you’ll need to build some structure and excitement into your talk both verbally and visually.
Take advantage of these creative ideas for making your presentation better.
Also, be sure to download our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations, which comes with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter.
This 30-page PDF guide with included checklist will help you with the complete presentation process. Learn how to write your presentation, design it like a pro, and quickly prepare it to present powerfully.
For even more ideas on how to improve your presentation, check out this article featuring presentation tips or browse through our featured presentation material:
How do you structure and design your presentations? And what will you do differently in your next presentation given these presentation ideas? Do you have any other creative presentation ideas to share with us? If so, let us know!
Editorial Note: This tutorial was originally published in September of 2016. It's been updated to include new information—with special assistance from Andrew Childress.