There are lots of different traditional and non-traditional ways to start a presentation. The beginning of a presentation is one of the most important parts, as the audience will become intrigued or bored with a speaker in the first couple of minutes of a presentation. Next time you have trouble brainstorming about how you will start out your presentation, take a look at some of the ideas below to gain some inspiration!
A good way to start a presentation is to start with a 1-2 sentence summary of the overall big picture of the topic you plan to present. By starting with the solution or conclusion at the beginning of the presentation, the audience can focus on the steps and details in the middle instead of spending time predicting the ending.
Interaction with the audience
There are different ways to interact with the audience at the beginning of a presentation. Consider asking a question. Try thinking of a question that your audience would not be intimidated to answer because you don’t want to count on opening your presentation with a question and then having to provide your own wrong and right responses. Once you get feedback, tie those suggestions from the audience into your topic and if you can do so tactfully, point out some of the differences between suggestions from the audience and the conclusions presented in your presentation. You can also consider asking a series of rhetorical questions that encourages your audience members to seek connections to your questions and the topic in the presentation.
Starting your presentation with a personal anecdote is a good way for the audience to get a better sense for you, the speaker. By opening up with something personal to prove a point, the audience will start to feel more relaxed and will likely pay closer attention to someone they see as a “real person.” In addition to a personal anecdote, you can also consider sharing some commonalities between the audience members and yourself. By sharing how you climbed to the top in the company from starting as an intern, or by sharing some struggles that you all face such as long commutes to work in heavy traffic, you might be able to inspire audience members and/or coworkers. Another way to start a presentation is by describing a hypothetical situation and asking your audience to “imagine.”
Sometimes it can be effective to start a presentation with someone else’s words. You could quote famous philosophers, actors, or even top executives in your company such as the CEO. Make sure you use a quote that is applicable to your topic and/or your audience. Depending on your style, you can opt for a comical quote or stick to practical words of wisdom.
Not everyone can tell jokes effectively, and surely you can think of some people who are terrible at trying to be funny. You don’t have to be a comedian to use this method to start your presentation, but if you do decide to use this method, be prepared on how to react if the audience finds the joke hilarious or if the audience barely realizes that they were expected to laugh. Sometimes making jokes about yourself can be an effective way to grab the attention of the audience.
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