How to Start Your Next Presentation With A BANG

BY Jessica Helinski
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The best speakers grab their audience’s attention right from the get-​go. They know how to open a presentation so that listeners immediately take notice of what they are saying and stay interested. Unfortunately, most presenters do not open their presentations in this manner; most begin by giving a description of their company and offerings. This is boring and predictable, according to Inc. contributing editor Geoffrey James.

In a recent article, he shares five "foolproof" ways to start a presentation, ensuring that you snag the listeners' attention immediately and give your audience something unexpected, appreciated and, most importantly, memorable.

Here are three of his suggestions:

  • Start with a problem/​opportunity slide. James reports that while starting with this kind of slide makes sense, only about 1 out of 100 presenters actually do so. He suggests kicking off the presentation with a slide devoted to your audience’s current issue or problem, which will immediately get their attention. Then, highlight how you can solve this issue, perhaps by sharing a success story from a previous client with a similar issue. This technique will pack a powerful punch because it allows the audience to relate, it reveals you understand their issue(s), and shows that you can help.
  • Share an eye-​opening statistic or fact. “…begin with a fact that will create an immediate emotional reaction and then craft the presentation to put those emotions into context,” James suggests. This strategy works by using a shock-​and-​awe technique to capture your audience’s attention. You can boost the impact by adding graphics that reinforce the point.
  • Begin with an audience activity. Get the audience immediately involved and engaged by having them participate directly! It could be something as simple as simultaneously sending out a tweet with a particular hashtag–what matters is that they instantly become involved with the presentation.

These techniques are outside the norm when it comes to presentation starters, which is exactly what you want when crafting an engaging and memorable speech. Do yourself, and your audience a favor, by immediately grabbing their attention at your next presentation—and keeping it. As James writes, these techniques “are truly foolproof because they pique the emotions of the audience rather than ask them to figure out why you're talking about yourself and your company.”