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.

Use Props!

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.

YouTube Videos.

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 you do!
Presentation tips
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!