Most presenters begin their presentation in usual manner…
“Hello my name is Fred Flintstone and I am here today to discuss technology in pre-historic times.”
While your name can be very interesting (especially to you), it is not a very compelling way to begin a presentation. I hate to be one to break news to you, but when you begin this way, audiences usually forget your name and worse yet, they forget YOU!
A great way to begin a presentation is with an attention-getting device that will get audience EXCITED about listening to rest of your presentation. Some of best ways I have found to capture audience’s attention are:
1. Rhetorical Question – A rhetorical question is a question to which no response is needed. Rhetorical questions are designed to be thought provoking, rather than answered out loud. An example of a rhetorical question might be, “If you were trapped on an island and could only have three things, what three things would you choose?” Not only does audience begin thinking about how they would answer your question—they wonder how this will tie into presentation (which by way, it must) and suddenly—you’ve got them!
2. Relevant Story – Beginning a presentation with a story that directly relates to topic is another great way to get audience’s attention. A good story engages our audience’s hearts and minds and immediately draws them in. Make sure that story is short (using a long story in introduction can compromise flow of presentation) and makes a strong point. Here’s an example of an introductory story used for a presentation on benefits of a 24 hour Nurse Line. “All of us have had frightening medical situations where help of a registered nurse could come in handy. Let me tell you about a young mother, Marie, who was terrified when her two-month old infant son Sam woke up screaming in middle of night. He was burning up with a high fever and Marie didn’t know what to do. So she called Nurse Line and they directed her to put him in a cool bath to bring his body temperature down. They stayed on line with her until she was comfortable that she could handle situation herself. Imagine having that kind of support available to you at all times of day and night.”
3. Startling Statistic – A startling statistic can be great opener. For a presentation on drunk driving, you might begin with... “In 30 minutes it will take for me to deliver this presentation, one person in U.S. will die in an alcohol related traffic accident.” When using statistics, round numbers, site your sources, and be sure to present current and accurate information.
4. Analogy – An analogy compares known to unknown, helping audience better understand unknown. When properly developed and explained, an analogy can be an interesting presentation opener. Here’s an analogy example... “Continuing to use this technology is like being on a lake in a rowboat full of holes—instead of patching holes, all your time is consumed with scooping water out of boat.” You may not understand technology, but now you know unequivocally, that it is like a sinking ship!