For me, the fun part of drafting a presentation is identifying the major points, creating smooth transitions, and crafting the conclusion. The hard part is knowing how to begin. I always need help finding the all-important hook. The hook of a story is what seizes an audience in the beginning and keeps their eyes glued to you until the end.
Skip the traditional ‘introduction’ and go for a bold opening. Jolt your audience out of their seats. Defy their expectations. Reveal something new. First, articulate the purpose of your presentation, e.g. “Teach employees the importance of adhering to our email usage policy.” Yawn, I know. But once you know your purpose you can bring it to life with a good hook. Try one of these!
People love to…what? Right: think and talk about themselves. Asking a ‘what would you do’ question piques immediate interest. For example: “What would you do if you mistakenly shared confidential information about your company with an unintended recipient?” This will get their wheels turning.
2. Group exercise
Ask a question and direct your audience to discuss their answer with a neighbor. This relaxes the room and builds their stake in your focus. If time allows, invite folks to share with the group at large.
3. Surprising fact
Prepare an audience to think outside the box with a little-known statistic or fact. They’ll feel motivated to know more.
Teach them something useful. A parable is an excellent way to convey a lesson. By imbuing fictional characters with familiar problems and solutions, people can relate to situations with less judgement than they bring to real world scenarios.
Compel your audience with wisdom. Quotes can set the tone for your message, stir thoughts and connect your points to a universal concept.
Everyone loves an insider’s look. Give your audience a sneak peek of your product, plan or idea! Sharing the goods sparks appreciation.
Appeal to the right brain. Analogies illuminate new perspectives. Oftentimes they trigger the response “Interesting. I never thought of it that way before.” E.g. Security is only as good as your weakest link.
8. Unique visual
An unexpected image can be arresting and stimulate focus. This will help your audience set aside their agenda and pay attention to yours.
Brain candy. You know – a Jimmy Fallon clip, an internet phenomenon, a high or a low moment in history. Most of us can’t resist pop culture.
This also functions as a direct challenge. Your audience will listen intently to see if you keep your word.
Conspicuously absent from this list of openers is the Joke. Jokes are risky business because humor is personal, and its definition varies widely. So, be sure to consider your audience profile when planning your hook. What would have the broadest appeal or pack the biggest punch with the most people?
Keep in mind that if you don’t captivate an audience within the first 10 seconds, they’re likely to wonder what’s for dinner. Hands reach for phones. Eyes look for exits. It’s worth fine tuning your hook. In fact, your story depends on it.
Begin your next presentation with a great hook. Here’s the cheat sheet.
Want help crafting a captivating presentation? That’s our specialty. Get in touch with us!