The 3 best ways to start a presentation


"Hello, my name is XY Today I will tell you something about ..." - does that sound familiar? Most presentations start with exactly this introduction. And most of the time the audience already switches off at these words. We'll tell you how you can really convince with your presentation entry.

There is no second chance for the first impression

No moment of a lecture is as important as the first minutes. Right at the beginning it is decided whether the audience's curiosity is aroused or the listeners are directly tempted to pull out their smartphones or fall into a 20-minute half-sleep. A good start draws the audience directly to your site. And the only thing worse than starting a presentation with boring words is starting a presentation with technical problems. That's why you should always check the technique before the actual presentation. That way, embarrassing entrances to presentations can be avoided at least once in a while. 

The introduction of a presentation is successful when it is unexpected, original and effective. But how exactly do you do that? We have three rhetoric tips for creative introductions to presentations by Conor Neill, expert in leadership communication at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, summarized for you. 

1. Arouse curiosity with questions

An effective way to get the attention of the audience directly is to ask a question at the beginning of a presentation. An exciting question addresses the audience directly and encourages them to think about it. There are several ways to design the question: 

  • voting questions: "How many of you would agree with this statement?"
  • provocative questions or rhetorical questions: "Most of you would rather be lying on the couch right now, right?" 
  • Simple questions that directly address the audience: "Would you like to improve your income by 20%?" 
  • Interesting questions that affect everyone: "What do we have to do to remain competitive in the future?" 

2. Shock with facts

Nothing has more power than a shocking fact. Numbers, data and facts have an extraordinary effect. They directly arouse the interest of the audience and stimulate reflection. In order to use these effects, it is advisable to find a fact beforehand that both concerns and shocks the audience and then build a bridge to the actual topic. An example would be to start the presentation with a worst or best case scenario: "Our statistics show that interest in the product will decrease by 50% in the next two years. What would you like to do about this?" 

3. Tell stories

Imagine you tell your daughter or son a bedtime story. You sit at the edge of the bed, open your mouth and say: "Once upon a time a long time ago...". And as soon as these words leave your mouth, you have the full attention of the child. What do we learn from this? Even as a child we were trained that these words mark the beginning of an exciting story. The most effective way to start a presentation is therefore to start it with a story. Presentation legend Steve Jobs also knew about the magic of a good story and used storytelling skilfully in his presentations. In another of our blog posts we will tell you all 10 key techniques behind Steve Jobs' legendary presentations. Suitable stories that directly capture the attention of your audience are for example: 

  • Why is the topic you are presenting important to you? 
  • When did you start working for the company?
  • When was the first time you experienced that someone benefited from your company's product or service?

What all these topics have in common is that they have a personal aspect and at the same time establish a connection to the topic of the presentation. The storytelling method should therefore be about the people behind the products and not about the products themselves. In this way, you build a personal connection to your audience and have them directly on your site. 

Tip: The effect becomes even more effective if you start telling the story and then take a short break from tension.  

Conclusion: It's all about the entrance

The start of a presentation is like the first impression at a job interview: it has to be sitting. For this reason, the preparation for the presentation must not be neglected. Take enough time and consider what suits your audience best and what strategy you feel comfortable with. With a well-considered and ideally personal introduction, you will create trust, credibility and sympathy after just a few minutes - and thus most likely have the audience with its attention on your side right up to the end.



Bild: ©Adobe Stock/Andrey Popov