Imagine yourself on stage, just before giving a presentation to a packed house. The spotlight is bright, the audience is smiling at you, the mic is hot. You launch into your topic, click your slideshow remote and turn slightly to reference the first slide—which you’ve never seen before.

This is the premise of Speechless, a unique event that brings together improv and PowerPoint presentations, and it sounded like such a perfect combination that the Bluewave team had to experience it for ourselves. Before an eager audience on a November evening in San Francisco, four brave presenters and one very brave audience volunteer took the stage to improvise everything from a sales pitch to a scientific discovery. The presentation topic is chosen at random and the subject matter is selected from audience suggestions. Each presenter has five slides that have been assembled without knowing the subject matter and with clearly no concern for cohesion or design aesthetics.

Speechless presentation topic type

Throughout the night, we heard some fantastic and hilarious speeches, from a self help seminar on living in San Francisco to an infomercial about… a streaming lecture service? Some kind of app? Tools to improve your sermon?

Speechless San Francisco November

I honestly can’t remember, but of course the focus was not on the subject matter, or the topic, or even the slides. What I took away is that while you may soon forget the content of a presentation, you will not forget how it made you feel—were you inspired? Laughing hysterically? Bored to death? Did it make you want to tell other people about your experience and about whatever content you do remember?

Presenters may have something to learn from these brave souls: Be quick on your feet, speak passionately, and above all find a way to connect with your audience emotionally.

Oh, and slides that look great and support your message are really, really helpful.

Learn more about Speechless here!