The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Powerpoint Karaoke Event
If you’re thinking about hosting a Powerpoint Karaoke game, you probably have questions. “Will everybody have a good time?” “How do I make sure it’s a hit?”
In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know to put on a successful Powerpoint Karaoke event. We’ve surveyed hundreds of people who have organized these events and collected their experiences… both what worked, and what didn’t. Let’s see what they learned and use their lessons to plan the perfect event.
Before the event
You’ll want to make sure you have reserved a space that has the equipment you need to play. For most Powerpoint Karaoke games, that includes:
- A large display (like a screen and projector) for displaying the slides
- A computer that runs presentation software (like Microsoft Powerpoint, or Keynote)
- A microphone and amplifiers, if the room is large
It’s best to test out the technology before your event, to make sure the slides are loading and everything is displaying properly.
You’ll also want to estimate how many people will be attending, so you can prepare enough seating for the audience. Powerpoint Karaoke really shines when there’s a good-sized audience. Make sure everybody will be able to both see the slides and hear the speaker.
Schedule your game for a time when people will be relaxed and loosened up:
“We added Powerpoint Karaoke as a fun option during our conference lunch break. It was a hit.”
Cheryl L., Social Media Tulsa
“Do it at night, after drinks. We did ours as part of Creative Mornings, which means IT’S THE MORNING. People are going to work right after. It’s not the right time for crazy and absurd. Crazy works better after work, or at night, or following a happy hour where everyone is midway through letting off steam after a long day. Mornings mean people are going to work afterwards, they’re charging up, not winding down.”
Scott Berkun, scottberkun.com
You’ll need volunteers to present. If your group isn’t used to improv, you’ll want to find volunteers in advance. For this, you can create a sign-up sheet or have people submit an online form. You can also recruit people individually, though keep in mind that the best presenters might not be who you expect:
“What we found was that some of the most introverted looked forward to getting on the stage for PK.”
Cheryl L., Social Media Tulsa
The total number of presenters can vary widely depending on your event; We’ve seen anywhere from three to ten presenters in a given round. You can always leave a presentation slot open, for anyone who wants to volunteer on the spot.
Preparing the slides
There was a common thread in the feedback we received. The slides you use matter:
“I recently hosted a Powerpoint Karaoke event at my improv club in high school. It was a huge hit. Here’s what worked and here’s what didn’t:
What worked: Two [slides] following each other that were direct contradictions.
What didn’t work (most of the time): slideshows thrown together with just a bunch of random photos with no thought put into it.”
“This year, our guy who had been updating our slides lost his edge… next year (and yes, we will do it again), we’ll take more care in the slides and topics we prepare.”
(excerpt from one response)
You have several options when organizing slides:
- Buy pre-built decks
- Search for decks online
- Build your own decks
Buying decks costs money, but it can save you time and it reduces the risk of playing something untested.
For those building their own decks, there’s a lot you can do to make them shine. So much, that we spun off a separate guide with tips and advice for making your own Powerpoint Karaoke slides. It has everything we know about building good decks, so check it out if you want to do it yourself.
Also, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can get pre-built decks online and then customize them with your own images. This is a great way to tailor the game to your audience.
During the game
Start by introducing the game and explaining the rules to the audience. Be enthusiastic! Your energy will be contagious and will set the tone for the rest of the game.
When it’s time to present, give the speakers everything they need to succeed. Make sure they can easily see the slides, remember the topic, and control the presentation:
“Let speakers control the slides. If you kept the [time] limit, but let the speakers control when a slide advanced, they’d have slightly more power over delivery. That adjustment would dramatically improve their ability to make the slides work.”
Scott Berkun, scottberkun.com
“Make sure you have the technology that the presenter can see the slide shown as well as the topic at the same time”
Sherry S., The Ohio State University
Something as simple as writing the topic on a card the presenter can see, can go a long way.
Do your best to help the presenter know where they are in the presentation. Adding slide numbers, a “final-slide” indicator, or a one-minute time warning will help keep presenters oriented.
Powerpoint Karaoke works well as a competition. As such, there are several approaches to scoring the players and deciding on a winner. These include:
- Audience applause: Have the audience applaud for each presenter once all presentations are done. The name that gets the loudest applause is declared the winner. This works best for large audiences.
- A panel decision: This can be unanimous, majority vote, or based on a scoring rubric. This works for games of all sizes.
- Audience vote: This works best if you have a system for collecting votes like index cards or an audience polling tool.
“I’ve created special scoring cards for each player to score the other player. People felt this made it more ‘professional.’”
Stefan van der Vlies
You can also come up with a prize for the winner, like a trophy or small gift. Raising the stakes adds some excitement and incentives to participate.
There are many ways to adjust the game to meet your needs. Here are some ideas that others have tried:
Presenting with a partner:
“We had so much fun that they asked to do it again, and then again with a partner.”
Jean H., Creative Business Innovations LLC
“When two people had to share the presentation it was very insightful to see that they each brought out different information and in different ways.”
Keith H., IAM/Boeing
“The event I ran was probably somewhat unusual in that it was being done with a distributed team, over a Google Meet call. I was running the slides via screen sharing, and the presenter would see those slides at the same time as everyone else.”
Jon W., Neos
(for more on remote play, see our guide for playing remotely)
Timed presentations, tag teams and more:
“We have multiple ways…
- Costumes and building the costume the presenter chooses into the slides that they get.
- Timed presentations, where a timer is set to random lengths that no one knows and the slide changes when the bell dings. You have to move fast and make the presentation flow under pressure.
- Tag team the presentation! At any point the presenter can tag in a team member to pick up the rest of the presentation. This is especially funny when a leader pulls in a team member that was clearly not paying attention!”
Coni T., Code Science
(On timed presentations: most presentation tools have settings for telling your slides to auto-advance after a given time period. Here are some instructions for setting that up in PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides.)
Variations like these can add new challenges and keep the game fresh, especially if you’ve played the game before.
Powerpoint Karaoke is a great way to bring people together and have some fun. With a little preparation, you’ll create an experience that people will remember for years to come.
If you’ve organized your own game, let us know what worked well for you, and we’ll include your ideas above. 👍