How to Open a Presentation

We’ve all been there—you’ve worked hard on your presentation and you know it like the back of your hand. But when the moment comes to begin that presentation, you aren’t sure where to begin. So, what comes out? Perhaps something like this:

“Hi everyone, thanks for being here. Today I’m going to be talking about ‘Topic A,’ which includes point 1, point 2, and point 3. Let’s go ahead and get started.”

That’s a fine introduction…but it’s one that everyone has heard before, time and time again. You want to stand out from the crows—not just another PowerPoint! Use something more powerful to open up your presentations.

Power Openings

Why not start off with a hook or an attention-getter? When your audience is greeted with a rhetorical question, a startling statistic, or a concept to contemplate right off the bat, they are more likely to engage with the rest of your presentation. The anticipation level of each audience member should be very dynamic, and not taper off. You can ensure this is the truth with a strong, powerful opening.

Some Examples:

If you are giving a presentation on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here a few ways you could begin your introduction with more “oomph:”

  • I’ll never forget the first time I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There was more jelly on my hands than on the bread, but even then, I knew I had a new favorite food. Get ready for your new favorite!
  • If you were asked how to make the perfect PB & J, could you do it? I promise you after today, you will.
  • You know what it’s like when you bit into a PB & J sandwich after a long day at the pool or on the playground? Today you’ll learn how to make a sandwich that brings back that same memory.
  • Who among us has never made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

These are so much more engaging than “Hello, my name John Doe, and today I will be teaching you how to make a PB & J sandwich.”

Power Closes

How about ending your presentation?

Many of us hear and use the typical: “well, that’s all I have for you today. Thank you for being here; let me know if you have any questions.” And if it’s a virtual presentation, it follows with 30 seconds of awkward waving trying to leave the meeting!

Try these options instead:

The Bookend Close: To close a speech using the bookend method, you need to bring the entire speech full circle. Refer back to your original opening or challenge. Tell them again the important points. Remember, if you tell them enough times, they’ll have a better chance to get it!

The Challenge Close: You may want to challenge your audience to get off the sideline and take action. Challenge them to do something spectacular or to get out of their comfort zone.

The Echo Close: This is a very effective way to get your audience to remember your presentation. It can be used in combination with other power closes. Focus on a single word or phrase that will reinforce your call to action. Create the sound bite that continues to reverberate in their heads and moves them to action.

People will remember the last thing you say, and the first impression you left. The Power Opening & Close should be your biggest priority when creating an out-of-this-world presentation!

Join the Conversation

2 responses to “How to Open a Presentation”

  1. Brandi Johnson says:

    The bookend close, bringing the story full circle is a great tip!

  2. Shim K says:

    I havent really thought of opening a presentation like that before. Sometimes I just talk about the weather until im comfortable then my presentation gets better.

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