You only have a few minutes at the beginning of your presentation to grab your
audience’s attention. Limited time? Yes for sure! Impossible? Of course not! Is it
really that important to start a presentation strong? Let’s just put it this way, a
weak start means your audience will likely be asking themselves “Does this guy know
his stuff?”, “He doesn’t seem prepared, will this be a waste of my time?” , “Can I
trust him?” A weak start undermines your credibility and not only that, you will
soon realize that to earn back trust, it takes a whole lot more time and effort.
Honestly, half the battle is lost.
Compare that with a strong start – credibility is established, your audience trust
that you know your stuff. With that set, you are really minimizing their resistance
towards your message. Your audience does not have an entire day to change their
minds about you, so take advantage of that initial minute to grab their attention
and position yourself as a credible speaker.
But How To Start A Presentation?
That’s when we need a hook! But what’s a hook?
Simply put, it is an attention grabber.
The hook you use to start a presentation is only limited by your imagination and
creativity. Just to start you thinking, I will share a few hooks you can use in your
presentation to start strong.
Don’t underestimate this. So while I was attending University, my class was given an
assignment which was for each student to give a short presentation on their hobby. I
chose rock climbing. I didn’t just bring my harness and karabiners along – I wore
them! I knew my entire climbing outfit was a winner when exclamations could be heard
amongst my classmates when I was up there.
I managed to find a good video on Youtube to illustrate the effective use of props.
This video can be used to talk about many different aspects of public speaking as
there are tons of gold nuggets in there. But don’t be distracted…I just want you to
focus on how he used props in his speech in this case. As I’ve got limited space on
my site, I had to trim off the frills and just show you the real important parts but
do click on this link to watch the entire clip if you wish.
Use of Props
Shocking or little known fact/statistic. I would recommend that this fact or
statistic should not be something which the vast majority already knows about
otherwise the shock element really diminishes and it becomes just a rhetorical
statement or question. Falls flat. Just an example of a little known statistic:
“While 95% of our children under the age of 12 are in school receiving good
education, this same statistic reflects the children who are sold to brothels as
prostitutes in India – enslaved to the brothels for the rest of their lives”
Do you have a personal experience or story to tell which relates to the main
content? If so, use it to start a presentation. I use anecdotes even in my articles
because I know that it reinforces the points I am driving. The important point is
that the anecdote must relate to your content. Your presentation is likened to
telling a story and the audience wants your story to flow. If someone asked you
where you lived, you wouldn’t respond by telling them your hobby, would you? There’s
no link! So make sure that the anecdote and the content are connected.
Ask A Question Or Questions.
To start a presentation, you can get the audience thinking about what you are going
to say by posing a related question. Or you can choose to ask a few related
questions but the choice of questions is critical. Each question should lead them to
think a little deeper than the previous one.
Got a snippet which can grab the audience’s attention and yet relate to your topic?
Why not use it to start a presentation?”. This is a great choice especially if you
don’t have a high humor quotient but want to crack up the audience. You can use a
funny clip to do just that without having to risk telling a joke. Just a word of
advice though, if you are using a video which does not have any commentary with some
background music, you might want to be the commentator as your audience watches it
to explain what they are seeing, to add depth. When I started my presentation on my
hobby while in University, I donned my rock climbing outfit and screened a video of
someone doing a free solo (climbing without safety). But my mistake was in not
saying anything until the 30 seconds video was over. There was only background
music. Liven up the video with your comments and help the audience see it the way
There you have it! These are a few possible hooks you can use to start a
presentation. These ideas when used effectively can help you to start strong and
create a lasting impression. Do you know of others? Share them with me!