The 5 ways to open your talk with a bang!

You really only have a short window to draw in your audience when delivering a talk or a presentation. Some people claim it can be even less than 10 seconds!! Your public speaking opener is so important! 

However, when I first started presenting, I would generally start a presentation this way. With: 

  • My Introduction, explaining who I was and why I was there
  • The Agenda, giving an overview of what I would cover

That’s just a bit blah really….! That wouldn’t draw anyone in. 

Also, no-one really cares about who you are and what you’re going to tell them. They’re much more interested in what your experience is with what you’re talking about and the value your talk will give them. 

Working on the delivery of your opener is an important part of the public speaking puzzle – so let’s not take it for granted. 

Now when I prepare the opening of a talk, I approach it a little differently. 

I think about it the same way Hollywood producers get us excited and looking forward to watching a movie. I approach it like a movie trailer!!

But how can you do this with a talk?

Find a way to share the absolute cracking insights from your talk, but don’t give it all away, just enough to get people intrigued about what’s to come. 

Did you know…?

“You only have about 7 seconds to make a powerful first impression.” – Prakash Shete

So, given this, how do you open your talk in a STRONG WAY, that will grab your audience’s attention? Here are some tried a tested approaches that are guaranteed to start your presentation with a bang!

5 Ways to Open a Presentation in a Strong Way

1. A Shocking Statistic

You ultimately want to create a wow moment and have people thinking to themselves, “ooh I didn’t know that!” The other reason you would use a shocking statistic is to quantify the problem and make the issue you’re talking about really clear to people, so there’s no ambiguity. 

2. A Related Story

A great option is to share a short but relevant story about your experience with the topic. It satisfies people’s natural curiosity about how you’re connected to this topic and what brought you there to talk about it. It also serves as a great way to establish a connection with your audience. If you don’t have a story of your own, a story that relates to the topic and sums up the problem space is a great option. 

3. Rhetorical Questions

You want to choose rhetorical questions that get people curious about the topic and wanting to know more. If you can get them to a state of almost child-like wonder, that’s where you want them to be! Why questions are great options here, because they aren’t always completely obvious and it will get people thinking of the answer themselves, which forces them to concentrate on your talk and finding out the answer. 

4. Humour

If you can make people laugh or even just smile in the opening of your talk, you will ensure they’re actively listening and having a good time. That’s when people are very receptive to what you’ll say next. 

5. Audience Interaction

If there is a way that you can involve your audience right from the get-go, you will have them way more invested in your talk and feeling part of it, rather than being talked at and distracted. This could be a question or poll you want answered, an exercise, a game etc. 

Personally, I find a question and a shocking statistic works really well for me – one that gets people curious but also paints a clear picture of what you are about to deliver. 

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on” – Albert Einstein. 

Are you ready to be contagious with your creativity? 

If you can get creative in the opening of your presentation, you will pass that on to your audience and that is a real gift! 

Think about a time you felt SUPER inspired. Was it watching a TED talk, reading an interesting article/post or hearing someone’s story whilst listening to a podcast?

Wouldn’t you LOVE to make someone feel like this? 

Trust me, it isn’t as hard as you think! Think about a time you felt inspired to take creative action. For me? It was the Simon Sinek “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” TED Talk. That generated a level of creativity in me that actually led me to what I’m doing today! 

Final thoughts 

The first impression you make will have a lasting impact on the rest of your talk and beyond. You want to captivate your audience from the minute you open up about your topic. 

This is even more important in this era of online presentations. Given that people can actually switch off and start doing something else if they’re not engaged. 

Use a shocking statistic, tell a story, add humour or interact with the audience. Choose what works for you and work on nailing that opener!!!

Questions? Thoughts? Let me know what puzzles you most about the opening of a talk and I’ll happily help you with some suggestions! 

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If you loved these tips and really want to learn how to captivate an audience, you should check out my 8-Week Group Coaching Program THE POWERFUL PRESENTER. You can also join a Waitlist for the Program starting Feb 2021.