Follow These Essential Tips and Make the Best Start to a Presentation
This article covers several essential presentation tips to better begin a presentation to capture your audience’s attention and make your presentation a success.
Starting your presentation may be the most difficult of all presentation skills. It’s a daunting challenge. You need to be interesting and engage your audience before they really even know what you’re discussing, in order to convince or educate them. Beginning your digital screen presentation by lumbering up to the front, slouching, clearing your throat, making nervous gestures, mumbling, and avoiding eye contact can all negatively impact your entire presentation.
So, how can you effectively start your presentation? Read on to discover my 10 presentation tips:
Tip 1: Engage the Audience’s Curiosity
A curious audience is a listening audience. You could withhold important information in your introduction to keep them engaged. One of the most recommended presentation tips is to introduce an unexpected outcome or solution. Engage with something that really grabs the audience by surprise.
Engaging the audience’s curiosity is a simple trick, but one that is commonly used by click-baity websites. It works for a reason, but it can also be easily overdone, so use it only in moderation.
Tip 2: Use an Effective Quote
Use an interesting quote to shock or impress your audience and tie it into your presentation. You can put the quote up on LCD or LED digital screens or you can recite it by memory.
Just remember to give proper credits and ensure that the quote fits with the remainder of your presentation. Using a quote that has nothing to do with your presentation is jarring and distracting.
Tip 3: Surprise Your Audience
A key tip when starting a presentation is to hook your audience. This could be with something provocative, a mind-blowing statement, or statistic. Ask them a thought-provoking or rhetorical question to cause them to think about your side.
Create emotions, like shock or empathy to better focus their interest in your presentation. Think of your presentation like fishing – you’re looking to catch them and keep them captivated throughout your entire presentation.
Tip 4: Help Your Audience Imagine or Think to Engage
Introduce your overarching concept by asking your audience to imagine or think. It is an effective way to create sympathy and introduce them to your subject. Keep it simple. Some people ask the audience to close their eyes and imagine something. Others are more literal. Whatever you do, don’t make it awkward and keep it short. You don’t want people to fall asleep into your introduction because you asked them to close their eyes.
Tip 5: Add a Thoughtful Introduction to Your Presentation
Most people get up and introduce themselves in a very basic way. They’ll say, “I’m John Smith and I work at this company” before launching into what feels like a rather snooze-worthy presentation.
If you think an introduction is necessary, make it interesting to your audience. Use your induction as a way to better connect with your audience. Help your audience understand why you’re here and giving this particular presentation.
Sharing a stereotype about your job or a light antidote to ease your nerves and make the audience chuckle often helps you as the presenter break the ice to smoothly discuss your presentation.
Tip 6: Be Visual
A picture is worth a thousand words, so use them! Open your presentation with a bold image that will capture the audience’s attention and interest. Whether it’s a graph, a chart, or a photo, a visual image can often best support your overall presentation. You’ll want your image to be strong and really grab their attention, so use bright colours, simple illustrations and graphics to be effectively punchy and show up well on a digital screen.
You don’t even have to start with a picture. Rather you could start with a video to introduce and make an effective point. The same rules apply to videos as with pictures, but with one caveat – keep it short. Unless your video is doing the presenting, your time spent giving the presentation should be longer than the video.
Tip 7: Relax
You may be terrified of giving a presentation, but you don’t need to show it. A useful tip is to take some deep, grounding breaths before the presentation, and don’t forget to smile.
Make eye contact, be expressive and passionate, even if the subject may be boring to some. You want to engage your audience and convince them that the presentation is important for the reasons you’re going to make.
Tip 8: Poll the Room
You can combine this point with the previously mentioned “Surprise your Audience”. Find a provocative quote and ask how many have heard of this before. It’s a great way to break the ice and help you feel more comfortable as a speaker in front of an audience. It’s also a great way to gauge your audience to determine if you need to make any off the cuff edits to your presentation.
Tip 9: Use Statistics in Your Presentations
These statistics must be relevant and important to feature in the presentation. If using shocking statistics, they have to be accurate, because inaccurate statistics can make you look untrustworthy. Statistics can really grab your audience’s attention and help you make your point even stronger, especially if placed predominately on a digital screen.
Tip 10: Practice Makes Perfect
If it’s one of your first times giving a presentation, then practice, practice, practice. Video yourself during a practice and then critique it. Work on your mannerisms and movements to ensure they are natural and not distracting.
Practice maintaining eye contact. Enunciate and speak slowly, so every word can be understood. As you review your speaking, ensure that you’re not using too many filler words or verbal hesitations. Speak succinctly and make your point clear.
Combining several of the previously mentioned points together can effectively make a presentation more interesting and appealing to your listeners. As you start your presentation coolly and confidently and with an interesting introduction, you’re sharing your knowledge and passion in an informative manner.
Presentations can be nerve-wracking, but following these tips can help give you confidence and support as you create and talk through your presentation. The more presentations you give, the more confidence you will gain, so while the first few may be awkward, you’ll eventually become more confident and persuasive.
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.