The opening moments of a presentation are crucial to its overall success.
Some studies show that first impressions are formed within seconds; others find they take a few minutes to solidify. Whichever findings you believe, the research delivers a common conclusion: People form opinions about you quickly, and, once they do, those opinions are difficult to reverse.
A strong beginning gives audiences confidence that you’re going to deliver a worthwhile message and takes advantage of your presentation’s opening minutes, when listener attention is at its peak.
My new book, “101 Ways to Open a Speech,” offers dozens of presentation starters intended to grab your audiences instantly with a beginning that delivers your message memorably. Five of my favorite starters from the book—ranging from the familiar to the more creative—are highlighted below:
1. The PowerPoint opening
Little tells an audience that the talk they’re about to see is going to be boring more than seeing the speaker begin by clicking to a cluttered slide. PowerPoint (and other similar programs) is overused and, when it is used, tends to be used badly.