How to make an impact when your begin your presentation

how to open up your presentaitons with impact

Sometimes it’s really important to grab your audiences attention the moment you get started with your presentation.  You’ve probably been faced with challenges in the past-think mid morning or afternoon slots at an all day conference or company away day (the renowned graveyard slots) and you’ll know what I mean.  You’ll be talking to people who have listened to several presentations already, they may be getting bored and restless.  Some of them may have even nodded off…it happens!

When you’re planning your presentation ask yourself how alert your audience is likely to be.  If the answer is ‘not very’ you need to be strategic and devise an opening that will instantly engage the audience, make them think and encourage them to ‘lean in’ and want to learn more.

It’s natural to be nervous of taking such an approach, especially if you’re not a confident or experienced presenter-the fear of failure is bound to raise its ugly head. So you need to think of an approach that doesn’t have too much risk attached.

Take a look at how Jamie Oliver reels in his audience during a Ted conference, and how effectively he builds on his opening.  He’s not doing anything extraordinary, he has simply stated some basic and irrefutable facts that get the audience thinking.  I really like the way he introduces the bar chart that highlights the causes of death in the US-he’s making a very serious point but successfully uses humour to do it.

So what other techniques can you use to open with impact?

Any of the ideas below work well.  It’s all down to how comfortable you feel about them.

  • Ask a rhetorical question that really makes the audience think
  • Show a though provoking image or short video clip
  • Offer an unexpected benefit
  • Share a quote (though make sure it is not a commonly used one)
  • Relate a topical story
  • Use an unusual prop
  • Run a quick quiz
  • Get a show of hands
  • Share a surprising statistic

You’ll be surprised by just how much your audience will enjoy an opening that is a little different. If you can make them think differently at the start, they’ll warm to you, be receptive to what you have to say-and they are much more likely to remember you and the content of your presentation.





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