Capturing your audience’s attention right at the beginning is vitally important any successful presentation. According to new research, a powerful opening helps listeners stay engaged with the presentation throughout.
However, delivery and slide management is as important as the content you wish to share. In this post, we will be looking at some interesting, proven ways to engage your audience right from the get-go.
The what, how, and why
Many presenters often focus on the “what” and straight away jump to the “how” of their topic. However, it is important to focus on the “why” as well. Emphasize why there is a need to address the topic you are about to discuss.
Imagine you are giving a presentation on “The Benefits of Remote Work” and how to incorporate it using technology. Instead of just focusing on how you will go about working remotely, add some slides explaining why there is a need for remote work. This can add more context to your topic and help listeners understand the solution you offer more clearly.
Stimulate original thoughts
You can start your talk by asking your audience to imagine a scenario related to the core idea of your presentation. Viewing the topic from their perspective can help the audience relate a lot better to your narrative.
For instance, you can ask the audience to imagine eating their favorite continental food. This can be followed up with introducing a new app to deliver different international cuisine items at affordable prices. The imagination helps your listeners visualize the benefit they could enjoy by using the app.
Use a captivating visual
Using an engaging visual at the start can be a compelling way to start your slides. This can be a video, an intuitive chart, or even an infographic. It takes less time and cognitive effort for an average viewer to comprehend something visual than just plain text.
For instance, if you are going to present about climate change and its effects, a video about the impact it has on wildlife would strike a chord better than information given through text.
Building intrigue at the start can be a powerful way to incorporate your ideas and get your participants thinking. With this approach, you can place a single word, number, or a statistic in the first slide of your presentation. This helps build curiosity among participants and stimulate a discussion too.
Using a powerful quote
While words might not always have the impact visual content does, there are some tried and tested lines that will probably work. For instance, adding a great quote relevant to the presentation topic can add credibility and context to the message you are trying to deliver.
For instance, the slide shown above can be used as an opening slide for an ad agency’s pitch. It is punchy, direct, and relates to the company being presented to.
Be a storyteller
Human beings, in general, are wired to pay attention to stories. Use a story that is related to your presentation and why you’re presenting that topic. If applicable, you can tell short, memorable anecdotes from your life experiences to capture the attention of the audience.
Ask a thought-provoking question
Questions can get the speaker and audience better acquainted with each other before the presentation. They are one of the most interactive ways to start a presentation.
Rhetorical questions are usually used to draw the attention of the audience and get them to form an opinion. Just be sure that the question sets them on course to agreeing with the core message of your presentation.
Involve your audience
You can get your audience involved by posing a question and asking for a show of hands. For instance, you can ask a question like “how many of you had breakfast this morning?” You can then bring up a statistical insight that “1 in 5 working professionals skip breakfast and start the day with an unhealthy habit. Our team is striving towards finding ways to bring this number down. This would be welcome news for those that did not put your hand up.”
Start with a bold headline
Use a surprising statistic or a shocking claim to capture the attention of your audience. This is similar to starting with a question—just ensure it directly relates to the topic discussed in the presentation and supports the message you will be delivering.
If you are planning to include statistics, make sure to include the source of the information. Citing a reputable source of information will help increase the credibility of your presentation. In this example above, the statistic about increasing electronic waste will make the audience take note and act on the message you are about to deliver about recycling e-waste.
Kick off with a joke
Humor is always an effective way to break the ice with your participants. A joke can be used to introduce the topic of your presentation. Adding humor generates positive feelings among your audience and helps hold their attention for the duration of your presentation.
Some great presenters, like Steve Jobs, did not start their presentations with a generic introduction slide or a list of numbers. These presenters do a lot more and get the attention of the audience using innovative methods, like some of them listed above. Try these different techniques to find out the one that works best for you and incorporate it in your next presentation.