Thursday, October 8, 2009

Levels of Interactivity in Presentations

In this post, I list the various levels of interactivity seen in presentations. (Note: In this post, by presentation, I mean .PPT, .PPTX or similar computer-generated slide deck, and not the act of presenting.)

Level 0: Text Bullets and Pictures
This is where most presentations are today. Each slide displays a bunch of bullets with static text, and sometimes there are a few pictures, and you go from one slide to the next.

Level 1: Transitions, Build-ups, Effects
Here, presentation creators use slide transitions, slide build-ups and slide element animation effects. A variation often seen includes click-based slide buildup. Each time the presenter clicks the mouse, a new bullet point gets added. While all this jazzes up slides a bit, the interactivity is superficial at best.

Level 2: Enhanced Internal and External Navigation
Often confused with interactivity, this is simply the use of interface elements - such as buttons and hyperlinks - which allows the presenter to navigate quickly to another location within the presentation. It also allows the presenter to open a document or a web page, or play a sound, video or a movie, on click of the button or hyperlink.

Level 3: Basic Interactivity
Questions, polls, quizzes and such basic interactive elements are found at this level.

Level 4: Essential Interactivity
Presentations which provide essential interactivity allow for rich navigation metaphors such as flip-books, panning cards and 3D objects; story-building metaphors such as sprite animations, guided tours, flowcharts and diagram build-ups; and interactive visuals supporting features such as build-up, rollover and drilldown.

Level 5: Advanced Interactivity
Presentations with advanced interactivity allow the presenter to accept audience input and selectively present information by adapting to the input. Advanced interactvity also includes group activities such as games, shows and contests; participation enhancers such as brainstorming sessions and key takeaways; collaborative exercises and so forth.

As you go from level 0 to level 5, the impact of a presentation goes up several fold, because the audience gets involved progressively to a greater degree in the presentation. Of course the presenter achieves the ultimate impact, but a well-designed slide deck with sufficient interactivity will make the task a lot easier.


  1. PowerPoint presentations are generally associated with the term “Death by PowerPoint” unless the presenter is exceptional and keeps his / her audience involved. However from a pure PowerPoint perspective and I being a active PowerPoint user, I can see as how each interactivity level can inject more and more life in PowerPoint. A combination of using interactivity and powerful users will be the secret of a “winner” presentation.
    Use of products like Raptivity Presenter ( and YawnBuster ( can create Level 4 and Level 5 presentations easily and quickly.

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