How to start a presentation

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It takes a few seconds for people to tune in so don’t start with an introduction – ask a question instead

How do you start your next presentation? Hi, I’m Shola Kaye, and I’ve got to ask that question because there are a number of ways, but one way I would suggest you don’t start your presentation is with, “Hi, my name is Shona.” If you noticed with this little video, I started by asking the question before I introduced myself and I suggest you do the same thing. Why? Because it’s a bit boring and it’s a bit predictable when somebody starts out by introducing themselves. Also, quite often it takes a few seconds for people to start to listen, so if you introduce yourself right at the very beginning, they may have forgotten your name or maybe they just didn’t catch it because they weren’t ready to listen in to what you were saying.

Begin with an attention grabber – get the audience’s attention from the start

So typically, when we start the presentation, we begin with something called a grabber or an attention grabber, and that could be a number of things. It could be a story, so perhaps you stand there and you wait a second for people to pay attention and you begin a short story. Could be that you have a quote, so you have a great quote that ties in very well with the contents of your presentation. It could be that you start with a question. I typically ask people questions to begin with, because I find that questions really focus people’s attention and get them listening. So it could be a quote. It could be a question. It could be a statistic. Could be, “Did you realize that 30% of people…” Could be a statistic that is eye opening or attention grabbing. It could even be a fantastic slide or image that you show people. You start, you put that image up and people are drawn to the image. There are many different ways that we can start a presentation, but the point I’m making here is you want to do something that just makes people turn their heads and look in your direction and pay attention from the get go.

Don’t be shy to come on with something impactful – the audience wants to be excited by your presentation

So try and avoid the, “Hello, my name is…” As a beginner, or as a starter, as a grabber, because it’s not really sufficient to grab people’s attention. So I hope that helps. A few ways there that you can begin your next presentation. While some people feel like, “Who am I to walk on and deliver a quote, or to give people an arresting image? Who am I to feel that I can draw people’s attention in that way?” And I totally say, “Who are you not to be that person.” Why not you coming on with some really impactful, hard hitting, exciting opener for your presentation? People want to be shaken up. They want to feel excited and enthusiastic about your talk. So give them what they want and let them feel excited and motivated to come to continue listening because you start out so strongly. Hope that helps and take care. Bye.

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Shola Kaye is an award-winning speaker, author and professional speaker coach with clients around the world. Her work has been mentioned in Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and on the BBC.
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