How Do I Begin a Presentation?
A well-constructed lede, which stands for an opening statement, can hook the audience to the topic you are presenting. Depending on the need of the hour, there are certain ways by which you can begin a presentation. Keeping in mind that the first impression lasts when you are presenting, it becomes really important to keep a few things in check.
Here are some tips that can be incredibly helpful in starting a presentation:
1. Tell a Story
Adding the story element to your presentation skills can completely change its outlook. When you are presenting a key topic, this gets often sidelined. Believe it or not, people get bored when you pick a tone and stick to it throughout the presentation, especially when you are starting the presentation.
So leveraging stories to begin the presentation becomes really important, and here’s how you do it:
What made the public inclined to follow Hitler? We know he did not talk about the prosperity of the people, he incited hatred among the masses, it was his verbal communication skills. Great speech keeps the audience on its toes. Research on storytelling techniques and improve your oral communication skills.
Utilising Books & Public Speaking
There are thousands of books that dwell on the art of public speaking. A personal favourite of mine is Talk like TED by Carmine Gallo, which is a scientific analysis of talks and interviews of TED presenters.
Further, consider joining a public speaking platform like toastmasters club, etc. Or use a LinkedIn learning program, for instance, Laura Bergells cover almost all aspects of communication and public speaking.
Use Personal Anecdotes
Real-life experience-based storytelling is one of the easiest methods to deliver your story. As you have been telling the story for years, you need to search the internet to learn more about it. Further, it would be ideal if you can connect the story with the topic of the presentation.
2. Ask Questions
One of the key essentials of presentation skills is asking questions. Asking questions when you begin a presentation is a great way to engage with the audience. You can ask questions that ignite excitement in the audience and make them feel like they have been listened to.
For example, the famous question by the former wall-street stockbroker, Jordan Belfort:
‘Sell me this pen?’
The above statement entails a quote from a famous personality, audience engagement, and a question. It perks up the audience right as you want it to. By just merely walking up to an individual you ask this question and if the person fails to answer this, you can go back explaining it. Even if the person answers this question, you can add a few nuances in your statements as you know more about it anyway considering you prepared for it.
Furthermore, such moments leave space for humour. Utilise these crucial moments to charm the audience.
Humour is a great way to get your point across. It helps you derail the audience leading towards boredom. When you are dealing with a group, you need to incorporate the attention span of everyone in the room. It does not matter how crucial and interesting the topic your presentation is, the monotonous tone can make it a bit boring. This is where humour will help you get back the losing audience.
Jokes demand an instant reaction. If you indulge in making jokes, the lack of reaction from the audience may leave you disheartened. Hence, understand the difference between humour and jokes. Make humorous statements instead of cracking jokes.
Relevance is the key when you are making a humorous statement. Always make sure that you connect the dots with the topic at hand. Furthermore, understand the background of your audience such as culture, age, etc. Or, you can find a universal humour factor that works with all age groups and cultures.
This tip is the simplest of all. Do not laugh at your own statements. You are not doing stand-up comedy. So, if you do not extract a laugh from the audience, it does not matter. The idea of spark engagement and keep the monotonous tone at bay.
4. Don’t Lose the Attention of the Audience
Losing the attention of the audience is disheartening to watch. You can watch it unfurl in front of your eyes. Though by keeping a professional tone prevalent in your approach, treat the presentation as a general conversation as you would do with your acquaintances/peers. Use every bit of your irrelevant information but make sure to connect it with the topic of the presentation.
Here are a few pointers to begin a presentation that will help you spark engagement from the audience:
Curiosity is a key element in driving attention. If you begin your presentation with phrases like Did you know? It will be helpful to get people interested.
Ask Open-Ended Statements
When you make statements, do not subject the audience to mere answers of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Make open-ended statements that leave space to conduct discussions.
Add a Shocking Element
Incorporating bold statements to begin a presentation can be immensely helpful in keeping the audience interested in your topic.
This is a great way to connect with your audience. Tell the audience to imagine something, it may be from your personal experience or any story that can be linked to the topic of your presentation.
Make Eye Contact
Make eye contact with your audience to make them feel like they are being valued. However, you should not set your eyes on a particular individual as it could make them uncomfortable.
5. Use Quotes
Hearing the name of a famous personality, the audience usually starts actively listening. Begining a presentation by quoting an influential being that is in-line with the topic of your presentation can work wonders for you in creating a positive impression.
A very famous quote by Warren Buffett:
‘The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.’
You should know how to connect these with the topic. The contextuality of each quote counts. Let’s say you are a manager who is presenting to your staff. You can connect the quote with the topic as:
‘The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. But in this case, we are going to have to say yes to the budget cuts.’
Presentation skills are needed in almost every field. From sales to customer service, these skills add value to someone’s professional resume. Hence, you need to ensure that you master the art of beginning a presentation.
This brings us to the end of the article. Here are a few additional takeaways from the article:
- Using infographics to begin a presentation can be incredibly helpful.
- Cover all aspects of the topic so that you can tackle every ‘why’ from the audience.
- Use a time frame to start a story. For example, yesterday, once upon a time, etc.
For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Presentation Skills and our Presentation Skills YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Presentation Skills Tips and articles.