When it comes to the design and presentation of information, there are well–researched standards and best practices like those below that can help you make your next presentation more engaging.
The first thing to keep in mind when designing a presentation is that you are communicating with an audience, and your presentation cannot be considered successful unless your audience learns something new, is inspired to action, or changes their perspective based on your communication.
PowerPoint has become one of the most disliked of productivity technologies, and for good reason. While a PowerPoint file is one of several good presentation tools, like handouts or whiteboards and markers, that can be leveraged to support audience understanding, unfortunately, it is often either created at the last minute and thus not given the attention it deserves considering its place at the front of the room, or, it is often used as something similar to a teleprompter, with the listener hearing exactly what they are reading on the slides.
As a presenter, you have a responsibility to your audience. You are responsible for considering your audience — their incoming level of knowledge, language and communication styles, and goals as participants — and crafting your message with that audience in mind. You should also design to engage your audience, respecting the normal human attention span of 7–10 minutes and planning for interaction. This doesn’t mean you need to "entertain" your audience. As long as you give a clear, organized presentation that follows best practices for good visual design, your audience has a responsibility to attend to the speaker.
Many of your design choices will determine whether your audience will be able to easily read the text and see the images on your slides, and those in the back of the room should be able to see your content as clearly as those in the front. The factors impacting readability are below.
How else can you keep your audience engaged during a presentation?
Don't read from your slides.
A person viewing your PowerPoint file should not be able to understand the content of your presentation from the slides alone.
Not using a PowerPoint is better than using a bad PowerPoint.
When giving a presentation that is longer than 20 minutes, be sure to interact with your audience in some way. Shorter presentations may only need a poll of or question posed to your audience, which can easily be accomplished with questions that leverage Audience Response (ARS) technology inserted in your PowerPoint. Longer presentations should include opportunities to collaborate and share with a neighbor, practice the concepts, or discuss with the class
Use large, clear, high–quality images. You may be tempted to download images from websites, particularly by searching Google Images, to include in your presentation, but unless the images are described as "Fair Use," "Creative Commons," or unlicensed, it is not legal to use them. Good resources for free and free–to–use images include MorgueFile and Flickr, using an Advanced Search with Creative Commons content selected.