Choose the “RIGHT” Presentation type… Ballroom, Boardroom or Classroom

A Ballroom audience A Classroom Audience

     One of the biggest problems dealing with the success rates of presentations has to do with matching the audience with the correct presentation style. There really are different styles of presentations and most presenters tend to mismatch their presentation with the audience they are presenting to. According to Dr. Andrew Abela in his book Advanced Presentations by Design, matching audiences with the correct presentation type results from knowing the motivations of your audience. Most “ballroom” presentations consist of an audience whose motivation for attendance and attention is low and reading text on a slide even lower. These audiences need to have a presentation that is high energy, visual and interactive. The accompanying support technology (PowerPoint) needs to consist of high amounts of imagery and other “attention grabbing” elements such as videos, color and animation. If you ask a “ballroom” audience to watch a “boardroom” presentation, chances are you’ll lose your audience. Boardroom audiences have a higher motivation to “read” text on a PowerPoint slide; “ballroom” audiences won’t.

A Boardroom

     When you use text in a “boardroom” presentation, make sure you don’t “bullet point” your audience to death. Expert David Paradi recommends turning text (or bullet points) into visuals that will quicken understanding since audiences learn quicker through visuals than reading text. Use charts, graphs, tables and diagrams to create more “visual” slides. If you absolutely have to use large amounts of text in your slide presentation, expert Bruce Gabrielle recommends creating “selective reading blocks” in place of bullet pointed lists. Designing selective reading blocks allows for both quick scanning and deep reading. The final presentation type we’re dealing with involves “Classroom” presentations and they need to be a combination of ballroom and boardroom presentations based on the level of audience / class to whom you’re delivering a presentation. Prior demographic analysis of each “class” is essential for success of each presentation. Bottom line, if both you and your presentation are going to be successful, you have to know to what audience you’re presenting and what type of presentation you need to deliver.

     Until next time…


2 Responses to Choose the “RIGHT” Presentation type… Ballroom, Boardroom or Classroom

  1. Thanks John. That sets out the differences clearly, and you’ve mentioned 3 leading exponents in Andrew, Dave and Bruce.

    You can download an interesting free e-book by Andrew Abela (and see a short discussion of it) at

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