10 Ways to Hook Your Audience

10 Ways to Hook Your Audience

If you’re like me, planning a presentation begins with jotting down big points, highlights, clever turns of phrase, transitions. Those leap to the page first. And then, the show’s over. My well of ideas runs dry. I need help finding the all-important hook. The hook of a story is the element that seizes an audience and keeps eyes glued to you from beginning to end. It’s emotional. Provoking. Intriguing. A good hook is irresistible.

Skip the traditional ‘introduction’ and go for a bold opening. Jolt your audience out of their . Defy their expectations. These unique presentation openers do more than get people’s attention. They break the ice and establish connection.

1. Question

People love to…? Right: think and talk about themselves. Asking a ‘what would you do’ question piques immediate interest.

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.

4. Lesson

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.

5. Quote

Compel your audience with wisdom. Quotes can set the tone for your message, stir thoughts and connect your points to a universal concept.

6. Demo

Everyone loves an insider’s look. Give your audience a sneak peek of your product, plan or idea! Sharing the goods sparks appreciation.

7. Analogy

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. Love is like wildflowers; It’s often found in the most unlikely places.

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.

9. Entertainment

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.

10. Promise

This also functions as a direct challenge. Your audience will listen intently to see if you keep your word.

No Jokes

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 might 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 smart 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!



Gretchen Musgrove

Sr. Communications Manager | gretchen@zumcom.com