Speaking in public isn’t easy, especially when you’re looking to captivate your audience from the start. When giving a presentation, it’s important to know how to drive the interest of your audience from the minute you open your mouth, so they will get your message and stay interested. But how do you open your presentation and keep your audience engaged?
Below are 7 effective openers that you can use to hook an audience in the first minute.
- Ask a Question
Questions can be great openers for public speaking. Opening your speech or presentation with a rhetorical question helps to give your audience something to think about. On the other hand, you can use questions that require answers to establish a two-way conversation that will get your audience engaged.
Questions can be simple and straightforward like, “What will be your next step when ‘X’ happens?” Pose a question that will challenge their belief regarding a particular topic to get them thinking.
- Tell an Engaging Story
Starting off a speech by telling a story will certainly hook the audience. Engaging stories allow the audience to associate the images in the story with your topic, making it easier for them to remember it. Stories will help you deliver your message in a persuasive, interesting and clear manner.
A recent client of mine, who was a psychologist, began his talk of the secrets to better work by telling a story on his childhood. The story was aimed at persuading his audience that chasing happiness, rather than productivity, can lead to effectiveness.
- Surprise the Audience
Your audience is more likely to be hooked when you surprise them and open the presentation from an unexpected direction. This is particularly true if you use a counter-intuitive statement that is opposite a popular belief or by making an improbable assertion. Nonetheless, there are other numerous ways to surprise your audience and get their attention.
- Quote an Influential Person
To introduce your presentation and grab an audience’s attention, start the speech by quoting someone influential. Inspirational and meaningful quotes enable you to use an expert’s take to build a foundation for your topic. In such a case, it is best to look for a quote that relates to your topic and describes the state of your speech or presentation. Also, ensure that the quote is short, relevant, and pithy.
- Make the Audience Laugh
There is no better way to persuade your audience and get them engaged than by using laughter. Use humour to grab their attention and lighten up the mood. The audience is likely to give you their attention when they feel relaxed and more comfortable with your presentation.
- Use a Captivating Visual
Visuals are known to capture attention, and this is no exception for speeches and presentations. A public speaking coach will tell you that using a captivating visual is a great way to introduce your message and support your statement. However, be careful how you use the visuals because parading them too much can distract the rest of the presentation.
- Utilise their Imagination
Another effective technique to hook your audience is to use their imaginations to communicate your message. For instance, tell your audience to close their eyes and imagine something that is linked to your message. You can also use words like, “picture this”, think of” and more. If done right, this can communicate the message to the audience in a clear way.
When you know how to start your presentation the right way, your audience will understand your message and you will leave having achieved your goal. Additionally, you can enroll for public speaking training, so you will learn how to effectively engage your audience from the start to finish.