by Adam Noar
To command your viewers’ attention from the start, I’ve put together this guide to help you start a presentation the right way…
1) Build Rapport With Your Audience
Building a rapport with your audience is the key to giving an effective presentation. If you are able to help your audience feel relaxed and comfortable from the beginning, they’ll be more likely far more open to hearing what you have to say.
First, arrive early and get to know the audience. Before you begin your presentation, spend a few minutes introducing yourself to the gathered people. Be sure to thank your audience for their attendance and describe why the information you are about to present is of interest to you. This will not only help you build rapport but it will help break the ice. When you begin your presentation be sure to use an introductory statement, eye contact, and don’t forget to smile occasionally. This will help put your audience at ease. Eye contact will engage the group and make them feel part of what you are doing. So be sure to look your audience in the eye, especially when addressing a particular person. But also don’t forget to address the entire group. The worst thing a presenter can do is address only those people in the first row or those sitting nearest.
If you can build rapport with your audience, they will most likely want to listen to your entire presentation.
2) Use a Captivating Title Image
Be sure to use the background of your title slide to display a captivating image. Meaningful images will allow you to capture your viewers’ imagination and prepare their minds to take in the information that will follow. So, it’s important to carefully choose this title image. For example, if you’re delivering a presentation on the subject of “water drought”, an image of a dry barren landscape might do the trick.
3) Provide an Overview
As we all know, an audience’s concentration level tends to be at its highest at the beginning and end of any given presentation. Keeping that in mind, you have the opportunity to grasp your viewers’ attention and to convince them that they will be rewarded with new knowledge or insight into the topic at hand.
So be sure to spend a few moments giving a detailed explanation of the information you will be discussing. Elaborate on the ways in which the knowledge you’ll share will benefit your audience, and share what’s on the agenda including breaks and the scheduled end time. Keep in mind that your audience will better prepare themselves to remain energized if they know in advance how long the presentation will last.
4) Use Quotes
Referencing the words and thoughts of an expert in relation to your message or your field is useful for establishing an overarching theme or general idea about a topic. Not only will you impart wisdom on your audience, but you will also create a segway into your own topic. Just be sure to follow up the quote with an explanation of how the quote is relevant to your topic.
You will also gain instant credibility by making an early reference to a distinguished expert in relation to your message or your field, and demonstrating the commonalities between their methods and your own. If you’re presenting on the subject of technology, for instance, you may wish to make reference to the works of Steve Jobs.
5) Use Statistics & Data
Normally, statistics and data can seem boring in a presentation. However, when used correctly, statistics can be very effective in delivering your message, whether used at the very beginning or end of any presentation. The key is to use very clear, accurate and relevant information. Data not only provides your presentation with a trusted source, but also lends credibility to your message.
6) Exude Confidence & Enthusiasm
If you’re able to radiate confidence and enthusiasm from the very beginning, your viewers will be far more willing to accept that you really do know what you’re talking about. As a result, they’ll be prepared to lend you their full attention, and reflect on your arguments with a more open mind.
A great way to exude enthusiasm is through the use of subtle body language. Speak at a conversational pace with your head held level with the audience, unfold your arms and allow your feet to carry you across the stage as they please. The physical activity will keep your viewers alert, and your mind in tip-top shape for expanding on the points you make.
Your hands can be used in conjunction with your words to help influence the audience’s mood. Upward-facing, open palms, for example, are often interpreted to suggest honesty on the part of the speaker, while a hands-behind-the-back posture will usually indicate strong self-confidence.
7) Cite an Achievement
Another option is to begin your presentation by showcasing a business or personal accomplishment. Just be sure to provide an explanation of how the accomplishment is relevant to your presentation.
8) Tell a Story or Anecdote
Lastly, consider telling a story or anecdote to open your presentation.
Stories are one of the most powerful ways to start a presentation. Stories are memorable and a well-told story will most likely compel the audience to want to know more. Be sure to avoid starting your presentation in an overly formal or business-like manner or you’ll run the risk of permanently losing your viewers’ attention. Remember, even the most serious presentations can benefit from a story. But the story needs to be brief, with just the right amount of detail to keep the audience captivated. It must be authentic and have a point or lesson to support your presentation. Additionally, telling a story or sharing a personal experience will allow you to connect with your audience. When you establish a connection with your audience, you can then focus on the delivery of your message while keeping your audience engaged and entertained. Just remember to keep the story relevant to your presentation.
Cover Image (Remixed by Adam Noar) by Oscar Rethwill
Build rapport Image by University of Salford Press Office
Overview Image by Imagine Cup
Statistics & Data Image (Remixed by Adam Noar) by LawPrieR