Johnny Quinn is the founder of Audience Alive™. He is a Presentation Consultant and a Presentation Technologist, who uses the latest presentation technology to help you communicate your message better. In 2001 he joined the industry by starting a business making presentations and creating audience engagement technology. He is based in New Zealand as of now.

In this episode, we talk about presentation tools, presenting online, the gadgets every presenter should have, the latest PowerPoint developments, and the best software tools for audience engagement.

Common technical issues to avoid

Talking about internet connection, Johnny advises that you have to rely not only on Wi-Fi when presenting virtually or in person. Get a cable data connection, if possible, and perhaps as a plan B, a phone 4G/5G connection for when even the cable data connection fails or slows down.

He also advises that if the video disappears, you should always have good sound. Naturally, it is a great idea to invest in a good quality microphone.

Furthermore, another really good investment in his opinion is a standup desk. While presenting, if you stand up and move around, your whole physiology changes. For background, a green screen would be the best, because in Zoom, for example, you could present your slides in the background weatherman-style. If you do not have a virtual background, then have something personal in the background – a nice plant always does the job.

Audience engagement

Work on the questions that you want to ask your audience, create a dialogue with them. “Interaction is the difference between a monologue and a dialogue,” Johnny says, so it becomes a conversation. Ask them even something simple to connect over like: “How are you feeling today?”.

Johnny shares a situation in which he was attending a webinar where he realized he was merely watching a pre-recorded video. There was no interaction with the audience. He says that he felt cheated and angry as an audience member.

He also explains what a hostage-taker is in terms of presenting – a person that has ~150 slides and is intending to read through them all. On average, people present one slide per minute unless it is a dense slide. It is improbable to hold people that long in a presentation. It is a problem that can be solved by having a slide review and some preparation beforehand.

Interactive presenting

Another thing Johnny shares with us is that people have not switched on to sections yet, but they are a great way to segment your presentation and the simplest way of getting a lot of content across. He wonders why we still present linearly mostly, as nowadays we can move interactively through the slides.

You can ask the audience what they want you to talk about and then select the topic from your presentation. That can set you up as the expert, and you can jump straight to the given topic. This removes a huge amount of glossophobia – or fear of public speaking – because while doing that you naturally have a conversation with the audience.

Gamification is one of the best ways to engage the audience, Johnny says, and nonlinear presentations give you more dynamic and are more contextual to the audience.

Top gadgets every presenter should have

He shares that his Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote is a great gadget that he uses regularly. It creates a halo or a magnified area on the screen, which allows highlighting an area from any position in the room or hall. You are also controlling the mouse with it and it is great in combination with interactive presentations.

Another useful gadget is a wireless JBL speaker he has, which is much better than a laptop speaker and can be handy for playing any video anywhere.

The last thing he mentions is the voting clicker. He says that many people think they are going away, but they are still very much in use. When you ask people to vote on their phones, they know that you can track who they are. With a device like voting clickers, you get a much more honest response.

Latest PowerPoint developments

Johnny shares the best updates in his opinion with us. He mentions the ability for the audience to click emoticons while presenting, which is immense. You can now get live feedback from the audience.

Other features he likes are the icon and 3D objects libraries and presenter coach. The presenter coach gives you full AI feedback while you practice your presentation. It checks if you are using inclusive language or if you should variate your voice pitch, volume, or clarity, and your energy level. He says the slide designer is also handy to everyone.

But his absolute favorite feature is the live subtitles. “That’s a real wow moment,” he says. The ability to be speaking in one language and have it translated into another language. With PowerPoint Live people can be watching in their language.

He says that his customers often cannot believe what PowerPoint can do today as people are stuck in the historical references of what PowerPoint has been. Johnny defines PowerPoint as a mixer of stories, pictures, graphs, and other media, a container of your ideas that assists you to get them across.

Useful software tools for audience engagement

Johnny says that presenting online can feel like presenting in a black hole, so you should try and create engagement. Be it live feedback, or asking questions, be brave and ask questions as an opener, rhetorical or not.

You can ask the audience some real questions as there are free polling options in Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and you can get an immediate response. Moreover, using software like Kahoot or Slido are some great audience engagement tools.


Check out Johnny Kennedy’s website or contact him on his LinkedIn. You can download here Presentology and Audience Engagement Solutions.

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