Presenting a new way to party together—virtually.

By Lauren Phillips
June 18, 2020
Credit: Getty Images

Coronavirus and our new era of social distancing might have (hopefully temporarily) put a stop to our ability to host and attend in-person parties—dinner parties, house parties, graduation parties, birthday parties, any kind of party—but that doesn’t mean we have to stop gathering to celebrate, unwind, or just have a good time together completely. Virtual games make remote game night parties possible, and many great party games can be played remotely, too.

There are even new types of parties we can enjoy while spending time together over Zoom or another video chat service, parties we might still enjoy and love when we can gather together in person again. Take the PowerPoint party.

At its core, the PowerPoint party is a party where attendees craft and give presentations on topics of their choice. Drinking, themed costumes, Q&As, and other fun add-ons may also be included. A PowerPoint party takes the meeting and school presentation staple, the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or slideshow, and makes it something fun, playful, and party-appropriate. A PowerPoint party can be done with Google Slides, Keynote (the presentation software from Apple available on iOS devices), or any other presentation tool, too, of course.

Initially widely popularized in 2018, the PowerPoint party is best kept to a small group of people—it’s not an activity for a crowded rager—and can be digital only or in-person. (That’s what makes it perfect for our new era of social distancing.)

To plan and host your very own PowerPoint party, first gather a select group of people who you think will enjoy the party. PowerPoint parties aren’t for everyone, or for every occasion—it’s definitely something best left to smaller groups of adults, young adults, and teens. (If you want to include younger kids, consider pairing them with an adult or an older kid with experience giving presentations.)

When you invite people, explain the expectations of the party. What’s the time limit or slide limit on each presentation? What’s the dress code? Is the PowerPoint party themed? The Drink, Talk, Learn (DTL) PowerPoint party—in which everyone simply chooses a topic they’re passionate about, with no themes or restrictions—is the classic option, but if you want to do a themed PowerPoint party, check out some clever PowerPoint party ideas below. If you’re worried about people having the same topic, ask that everyone submit their topics to you ahead of time to avoid any duplicates.

On the day or evening of the party, send around the link to join the video call early to avoid any technical difficulties. You can allow everyone to share their screen when they’re presenting, or you can collect all the presentations and serve as the presenter.

If you’re attending a PowerPoint party, your presentation can be whatever you want it to be. Use PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Keynote, fill your slideshow with images, charts, graphs, quotes, gifs, videos, and whatever else makes your point, and have fun with it. (Most PowerPoint parties should be goofy, either in topic or in presentation.)

One presentation tip: Try to use your slideshow for images, graphs, and key words or phrases that help make your point. Don’t just read what’s on the screen: Try to use notecards to make your argument.

To make your virtual gathering even more fun or interesting, try adding on extra PowerPoint party ideas.

Make presentations a drinking game with a few extra rules. Have presenters take a sip of their drink every time they say “um” or another filler word, for example, or ask them to finish their drink completely if their presentation extends beyond the allotted time. (Always drink responsibly, of course.) You could even pick an uncommon word or phrase—like pink umbrella, for example—and if anyone works it organically into their presentation, the whole party has to drink.

Take the party up a notch by enforcing a themed dress code. If everyone is presenting on a historical figure, have them dress up like that figure. Ask everyone to wear business attire, or to dress entirely in one color.

Challenge your party attendees by assigning topics: They’ll have to work up a passion for their given topic, and you can laugh at their efforts to make their presentations entertaining. (Bonus points if you choose extremely obscure topics, like how staples are made or where sand comes from.)

To get everyone invested in your PowerPoint party, make it competitive. Find a great prize (even if it’s just a virtual trophy) and create a scoring sheet with points for quality of presentation, strength of argument, choice of images, outfit choice, adherence to the time limit, and whatever other details you think are important. Have everyone score everyone else (all in jest) after their presentation; the winner at the end gets the prize.

Whatever form your PowerPoint party takes, just know that you can always make yours in-person, too, once social distancing guidelines, gathering limits, and the risk of spreading coronavirus ease.

Ready to host your very own themed PowerPoint party? Here are a few ideas beyond the classic Drink, Talk, Learn party to get you started.

Drunk history

Presenters choose a historical figure or event and present on it. Have everyone dress like their figure or era, and encourage people to have a drink or two before their presentation to really make it interesting.

The best [whatever] of all time

Every presenter picks a movie, TV show, video game, board game, fictional character, food, city, etc., and everyone makes the case that their pick is the best of all time. Keep topic selections within the same genre to spark a little friendly competition.

Conspiracy theories

Have everyone select a conspiracy theory and present on it with a goal of convincing everyone else that it could actually be true.

Assigning characters

All presenters pick a group—it could be dogs, characters in a movie, TV show, or book, foods, whatever—and explain who everyone would be in each group. (This is best done within a close-knit group of friends.) Presenters could explain which Harry Potter character everyone might be, or which type of pasta noodle they’d be. The opportunities are endless.