InteractivePresentation Design

Linear vs Non-Linear Slide Format: what works best for your audience

By December 13, 2018 February 27th, 2021 No Comments

So, you’re making a presentation deck but you’re just not sure about the best way to tell your story. While linear slides are timeless features of presentations, they belong to a specific form of storytelling. Non-linear formats are less common but they introduce a convenient and multi-layered experience for the speaker and the audience.

The main goals of any presentation are to keep your audience engaged, share your idea, and get a pat on the back for your efforts. Boredom is our main enemy and the way we approach the look and feel of our presentation is dependent on our audience. If you’re speaking to a group of students about why they should consider your university, you probably shouldn’t talk hard stats about why it’s great. You’re likely going to push the experiences they can gain and what makes your institution a reasonable option. That’s the story that’s going to work best with your audience. Think of linear and non-linear presentations as the different ways you can tell the same story.

Point A to B

A linear presentation is kind of a basic narrative arc. It has a beginning, middle, and end. If you mapped your presentation in this format, the introduction serves to push you to your final conclusion or call to action or resolution. Everything in the middle supports these two known points in time.
linear, Linear vs Non-Linear Slide Format: what works best for your audience
These presentations are a great way to explain an idea. Whereas (I’d argued) that a non-linear presentation is a way you can explore an idea.

A to B1 & B2 & B3 to C to D to…

A non-linear presentation is like choosing your own adventure. But it has the added benefits of keeping everything you need to say in one deck. For example, you’re a travelling salesperson who has information on multiple countries like Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and England. Your slide will reference these countries but you can decide, based on your audience, which topic is more relevant. Instead of creating presentations on each topic, you can have it in one deck. Presenters can cater content to their audience or to the flow of conversation. It makes it an immediately engaging tool that always remains relevant.
linear, Linear vs Non-Linear Slide Format: what works best for your audience
It does take longer to create a non-linear presentation. But it’s less time-consuming in the long run because you can still edit and update the presentation as you would for a linear one. While there is still a beginning and end, the course to end to the conclusion can take various forms. Think of the saying, “all roads lead to Rome.” It’s not so much how you get there, but the exploration or the journey while exploring the idea or aim of the presentation.
The options are endless with a non-linear presentation and it’ll take your storytelling into a completely different ball game.

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