Want to learn how to start a presentation or speech with impact every time? This video from the Public Speaking Coach will tell you everything you need to know.
Most of us know that the beginning of a presentation is a really important time. It is the point at which most of your audience will make a decision on whether or not to keep listening to you. If nothing else, it is a time when you can almost guarantee that all eyes in the room will be on you, so it’s crucial to make the most of it.
If you’ve seen my previous video on what makes audiences bored, you’ll know that it comes down to predictability. As a result, it’s no surprise that the best way to start a presentation is in a way that’s unpredictable. Easier said than done you might think!
In this video I share an example of how to do this. Many years ago I attended a work presentation from a pension provider. Going into the lecture room, no one was in the least bit excited. We all expected a standard sales pitch containing the same tired old messages. Instead, the speaker came out and started telling us about their lack of skills in golf. They explained that they had always wanted to be good at it, but never seemed to get the knack – they even told us a funny story about how they had tried and failed to impress their in-laws with their golf. Myself and everyone in the audience were hooked, not because we were golf fans but because we were taken by surprise. We were not sure where the speaker was going with the golf angle but it was different enough to completely hold our attention.
Eventually the speaker did bring the talk around to pensions. They did this by saying that they realised it was only when they retired that they would have enough time to get good at golf, so the challenge for them was making retirement a reality. By this point the audience was already invested in the presentation and felt connected to the speaker. This meant that the message resonated far more than it would have done if they had launched into a standard sales pitch.
When it comes to your own public speaking, metaphors and analogies work well for unpredictable starts. If you have a particular dry topic then popular culture references can also be very effective, so consider open with something about a recent film you saw, book you read or song you heard. As long as you can connect it in some way to your overall topic then it will work as an opening. If you really struggle to think of something, simply put yourself in the shoes of your audience and imagine you were attending your own presentation, knowing only the title and broad topic. What would you be expecting to hear and how would you expect the speaker to start? Once you know this, all you need to do is start with something different!
So next time you have a public speaking engagement give it a try. Focus on your start and do something unexpected, I guarantee you’ll have the complete attention of your audience which is the main objective. Good luck!