It is very important to begin your presentation with a strong opening because that sets the stage for what’s to come. The opening of your presentation is your first impression to the audience so it’s your chance to engage them. Based on your opening, your audience will either be on the edge of their seats waiting to hear more or grabbing their phones and reading emails to pass the time. You only have a matter of seconds to capture your audience’s attention so you want to begin with something powerful and compelling. Here are some ideas you might consider for developing an opening that is sure to wow your audience.
Paint a Picture in Their Mind
There is something wonderfully interesting about what the mind can develop. A great strategy for engaging your audience is to begin by asking them to paint a picture in their mind. For example, “Picture this. You’re sitting in a fancy restaurant when your waiter brings something unusual to your table.” Immediately your audience will be wondering “What is it?” “Where is the speaker going with this story?” These types of openings are intriguing and keep the audience wanting to know more.
Ask a Question
Thought-provoking questions are a great way to get the audience thinking. An example would be, “Who in here has ever witnessed a crime?” Your audience will immediately begin scanning the crowd to see whose hands went up and wondering where this question is leading them. Questions are a great way to rouse curiosity and motivate your audience to think about the answer.
Tell a Captivating Story
Of all the strategies out there, storytelling is among the most powerful and consistently successful for engaging an audience. That’s because people are hard-wired to learn from stories. From movies and novels to theater and campsites, people love to hear a good story. A well-told story is engaging and will win over audiences every time.
Make a Bold Statement
Think about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His opening line was a bold statement in which he stated something that was bold and unconventional for its time. Yet, it was met with a resounding applause and is still remembered throughout our country today. A bold statement prepares the audience for how you will back up such a strong message and it also shows confidence in the speaker.
A Powerful Quote
Quotes are always a great way to inspire an audience through the wise words of a well-known person. Make sure that you choose a quote that is relevant to your message and try to stay away from quotes that are overused. You want to choose something unique that pertains to your overall message.
A Gripping Photograph
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos increase comprehension, engage the audience, spark imagination, and make your message more memorable.