How to Start a Presentation?
You may be an experienced public speaker with established presentation skills. Or perhaps you take your first steps into PowerPoint presentation ideation. Still, opening your presentation can sometimes make or break the entire event. Consequently, knowing how to start a presentation is an essential skill. That said, there are ways to communicate your presentation ideas in an engaging manner. You can do these regardless of prior experiences with public speaking.
According to Duarte, 68% of people are easier persuaded if there is a two-way interaction between the presenter and the audience. And 46% of presenters admit that crafting a compelling story is the hardest part. The statistics by The Career Café also shows that 75% of people suffer from an innate fear of public speaking. Coupled with the first set of data, it is easy to see why some might think they lack the skills to hook the audience.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at several practical ways. Those will help you to strengthen your PowerPoint presentation and make its opening more unique and compelling. There are also several other important reasons to do that.
How to Start a Presentation on the Right Foot
Before we dive into the ways of taking your presentation to the next level with the right opening, let’s touch on why you should want to do so in the first place. If you already know your audience, the presentation will undoubtedly carry important information. To grasp it, your viewers will need to keep patient, focused and engaged.
The recommendation is that you make sure your audience has their eyes and ears on your PowerPoint presentation. They should listen attentively through the entire lecture or session. As such, here are some interesting presentation ideas you can use:
- Ability to effectively and constructively communicate the following messages.
- Better audience interest and presentation content memorisation.
- Higher odds at audience-initiated questions and interaction.
- Audience is more likely to act on the information shortly after the presentation.
Samantha Jones, Head of Public Relations at Trust My Paper had this to say on the topic. “No matter if your audience consists of B2B or B2C stakeholders. The opening salvo will determine their interest and engagement with your presentation. Thus, getting things off on the right foot can augment even a mediocre presentation, while a poor opening can damage a good presentation just the same.”
1. Hook the Viewer with your Opening Slide
The opening slide will arguably affect your PowerPoint presentation going forward. This depends on your reputation and how well-acquainted you are with your audience. In any case, here you will showcase how well you can handle visual design, formatting, and illustrate your character as a presenter.
When you deciding how to start your presentation, you may wish to open with a funny photo or choose a more analytical approach. The latter may involve typography or using a statistical quote to hook the viewers. It’s important to note that the way you shape your opening slide will depend on the target audience’s expectations. Strike a balance between your presentation skills with the profile of your audience. This way you will find the perfect middle ground for your opening.
2. Open with an Interactive Question
A one-sided monologue will often lead to a loss of interest and focus on your audience’s part. Because of that, try to set the stage by introducing an interactive, discussion-oriented question to your audience.
This will help your listeners to stay on their proverbial feet throughout the PowerPoint presentation. What’s more, they will look forward to asking further questions. They will also be more likely to discuss relevant topics with their co-listeners. You can use writing tools such as Studicus and Evernote to format and edit your presentation. The tools will show how efficient your opening questions are. This will allow for a more effective start to your future sessions.
3. Integrate a Personal Anecdote
No matter how professional or official the presentation might be, it’s always a good idea to humanise yourself. Your viewers should see you prior to the PowerPoint presentation itself. In that vein, you can integrate personal anecdotes, story-time and past experiences into the opening segment. Just keep them related to the topic.
This will allow the viewers to ease into the topic and paint a very human and identifiable image of your personality in their minds. This way they will listen better and memorise the following presentation ideas. Writing platforms as Readable and WoWGrade work great for outlining your thoughts. And then you can rehearse the presentation to ensure your best performance.
4. Quotes Work Wonders
While it may seem redundant or cliché, quotes make your presentation better. Aim to use the relevant ones and hook the viewers to lead them into contemplation of what you are about to tell. Be careful not to use the quotes lightly, as unrelated or chosen quotes can lead to the opposite effect and distance your audience further.
You can quote historic figures, experts, testimonials or other forms of documented statements. The only rule is that they are made by stakeholders and are related to your presentation ideas. Quotes in your presentation’s opening will strengthen your position and help your listeners focus. Take a look at writing platforms akin to Supreme Dissertations or Hemingway Editor to keep your text easy to grasp.
5. Present an Issue to be Discussed
Be direct and open your presentation with a heavyweight statement about a serious situation or problem. The statement should follow the topic of your presentation, of course. It’s worth noting that presenting a pressing issue doesn’t involve being rude, uncomfortable or derogatory. This can alienate your audience and paint a negative image of you before the presentation itself.
Make sure that your presentation of the issue at hand is done in good taste and in a diplomatic and constructive manner. It does take subtle presentation skills to pull off. Choosing to start a presentation in this way can be useful when dealing with bigger crowds. You can also use them when you want to quickly direct your audience’s attention to yourself with the weight of the issue you all face as a collective.
Bonus Tip: Maintain Focus on the Audience
Lastly, your presentation skills will come to the surface through your slides, body language and tone of voice. It’s also highly essential that your focus remains on the audience itself. Avoid turning your back to them, looking at the wall, windows or ceiling. Make sure that you maintain eye contact and acknowledge their presence.
The presentation might be relevant to the audience on some level regardless of your presentation skills. Even if this is so, it’s still a part of good etiquette to be professional and colloquial throughout the session. Additionally, the better you focus on your audience, the better your odds at animating and interacting with them will be as a direct result. It is a two-way street, not a one-way lane.
Learn as you Go (Conclusion)
At the conclusion of your presentation, you can always ask your audience for feedback. Encourage them to share opinions on your presentation skills and use those to improve your delivery even further. Treat PowerPoint presentations as an ongoing learning opportunity. Never stop looking for ways to innovate and add something new to your presentation ideas repertoire. Before you know it, you will have developed a unique style of delivery. And this will ensure that your audience is hooked into the presentation from slide one.
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.