Take a look at these six useful strategies:
1. Highlight a problem
One powerful way to start a presentation is to describe a problem your audience is facing. For example, imagine that you sell a product that helps people keep track of all their online passwords. In this case, you could start a presentation by describing how difficult it is for people to remember their passwords and how frustrating it is to have to reset a password when they cannot remember it.
People want solutions to the problems they are facing. For this reason, if you start a presentation by highlighting a problem your audience has, they will keep listening to find out if you have a solution for it.
2. Present a striking statistic or fact
There is a reason why many speakers start a presentation by sharing a statistic or fact; this type of information can have a powerful impact on an audience and capture their attention. For example, if you have developed a system to reduce wait times for surgical procedures, you could start a presentation by noting how many people die while waiting for their procedure.
Presenting a statistic or fact at the beginning of a presentation communicates to your audience why the topic you are speaking about matters and why your audience should keep listening to you.
3. Tell a story
Stories have a powerful effect on people, and this is no different in the context of a presentation. If you are delivering a presentation on building confidence, for example, tell a story about how someone’s career drastically changed when he or she gained confidence in the workplace.
Even if the story you tell is not about you, using a story to start a presentation can make your talk feel more personal to your audience.
4. Play a video
Another effective way to capture your audience’s attention is to start a presentation by playing a brief video. For example, if you run a summer camp for children with diabetes, you could start a presentation by playing a video of children enjoying their time at the camp.
Of course, you could simply tell your audience about the benefits of the camp. However, a video that shows children laughing and playing at the camp will elicit a deeper emotional response from your audience.
5. Using a prop
Another engaging way to start a presentation is to use a prop. For example, imagine that you sell an electronic medical record system for physicians. If you want to show physicians the benefits of using your system, you could place a large stack of file folders on a table in front of you to show them how much space a paper-based records system takes up. You could then place a laptop next to it to show how much space physicians will save if they switch to using an electronic system for their records.
Using a prop can be a particularly effective way to start a presentation when your topic is abstract and difficult for people to grasp. Props can make these abstract concepts more tangible and relevant for an audience.
6. Doing an activity
A great way to wake your audience up at the beginning of a presentation is to do an interactive activity. For example, you could use an activity to show your audience how much they rely on technology in their lives. Ask them a moderately difficult math question and note that they can use any method they wish to solve it. Then observe how many people pull out their phones to use the calculator on it.
Doing an activity can be a great way to start a presentation because it transforms your audience from passive observers into active participants. When your audience is more engaged in your talk, they will be more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.
There are many ways to start a presentation effectively
When you deliver a presentation, you want to start off strong. Whereas a weak opening encourages your audience to tune you out, a strong start leaves your audience engaged, interested, and curious to hear more.
Use the six tips outlined above to optimize the impression you make on your audience during those crucial first few seconds. When you start a presentation effectively, you lay the groundwork for establishing a powerful connection with your audience.