How to open a presentation
- Start with a statistic.
- Share a relevant story or picture.
- Ask a question.
- Elevator pitch.
Opening a presentation is like fishing.
You need a hook.
Relying on the standard “Good morning” to grab your audience’s attention is like attempting to reel in a seven-pound bass with a straight pin at the end of your line.
It’s not going to happen.
These aren’t any better:
“Hi, my name is…”
“Gosh, I’m so nervous!”
“I’m so excited to be here!”
“Um, should we get started?”
Here’s how to open a presentation with a hook that grabs your audience – whether you’re speaking to a crowd, a small group, con-call or one-on-one – and keeps them tuned in and energized the whole time.
How to open a presentation
Here’s your guide to creating a powerful opening to your speech.
1. Start with a statistic
Right off the bat, hit the audience with an interesting statistic that will make them think, surprise them or that will give them a good laugh.
2. Share a relevant story or picture
Often, I’ll share a picture of me when I was 10 years old.
I played football and we won the championship that year, and you can tell that we’re all very excited to have been champions.
I tell a story about that and it hooks people. Then, I go right into my presentation.
It’s an effective way to get the audience on board from the start. Begin with an important date
and talk about what happened that day and why it stands out. Start with the situation that was “normal” before it all changed.
3. Ask a question
But not just any question.
You want to ask a question that gets the audience to tap into an emotion, an experience or a decision that they’ve had to make.
Use the questions to help your audience recognize what it is they really need – their pain point.
Here are some examples of how to open a presentation with questions that are sure to spark thinking and grab attention:
- When was the last time you…?
- Have you ever experienced…?
- When your friends did…what did you do?
- Imagine living in a world where…. What would that look like?
- Where were you when…?
- If I told you…, would you believe me?
Feel free to get creative and craft the questions to your topic.
4. Elevator pitch
What is an elevator pitch?
A brief description of your product, an idea, your company, or your unique selling proposition (USP) explained in a way that is easily and quickly understandable to listeners.
Of course, talking with a large group is going to be different than making a presentation to a smaller group or just talking with a prospect one-on-one.
What do you say when someone asks you what you do? It’s boring to say “I sell X,” or “I do Y.”
Make it interesting so they want to know more and find out how you do it. What problem do you solve?
Here are some examples of different types of presentations you may be making:
- Job interview.
- Sales meeting.
- Presentation to a large group.
- Auto service business – could be 1:1.
- Sales presentation with a customer to move them to action.
When you are speaking to one person or a few people, find out about them.
Make your opening statements address the issues they’re having and then offer your solutions.
Practice makes perfect
Coaches use game film to catch mistakes and create strategies to get better. They also videotape the umpires/officials for the same reason. In your hand, you have the most underused training tool at your disposal – your phone has a voice and video recorder.
You can record your presentations, phone calls, training sessions, sales meetings and customer presentations. When doing a customer presentation, simply say, “I’m always trying to get better and make sure I’m listening effectively and telling our story well. Would you mind if I record this today?”
Very few will say no!
Record yourself – whether large, small or one-on-one.
Get some game film of yourself and use it to learn and get better. When you do it consistently, it will take your performance to the next level
Better openings, better results
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a group of hundreds or you’re meeting with a committee of three people.
The important thing is that you know how to open a presentation in a way that grabs the listeners’ attention, energizes them and spurs them to action.
Start with an interesting statistic, share a relevant story or a picture, ask a question, or put your elevator pitch into action.
Consider recording yourself doing your thing so you can work on improving, too.
Get the big fish with the right hook.