Your presentation opening holds a lot of weight. It’s like the first sentence in a book, the first line in a movie, or the first handshake with a boss. Sometimes your presentation opening line comes to you quickly, and other times it’s a struggle. There are many different directions to take when it comes your introduction. This presentation template lays out example for how you can write an effective opening. Grab a piece of paper and begin brainstorming!
Download the template: Presentation Template for Writing an Opening
Shocking statistics always work well in presentations. Instead of using an impressive chart or graph to show the information, deliver a piece of it at the beginning. Good content is always worth repeating and reiterating in presentations. So, if you have a number that will blow people away, take advantage of it at the start of your presentation.
Example: 59. That’s how many years you have to live if you are living in Togo, Africa. In a country of 7 million people, the life expectancy rate fell to 59 in 2015. Compare that to the United States, where people are expected to live to 77 years old. That’s 20 more years of life that the people of Togo don’t have. Source: The World Health Organization (WHO)
Now you try: Pull out the most surprising piece of information from your presentation. It doesn’t have to be a number. Think about what interests you the most about your presentation and build your opening off that.
Get instant engagement with your audience through a question. This is like an introduction to the problem you want to solve. Whether you ask your audience to raise their hands, share an experience, or just think about it, you are getting them engaged. After opening your presentation with the question, remember to circle back to it when you set up the problem or explain the solutions.
Example: By show of hands, how many times have you forgotten where you parked your car? You know that feeling, when you walk out the mall and cannot remember the aisle number or distance from where you parked. I have been there, along with millions of others who are looking for a solution for finding their lost car.
Now you try: Think of the problem or solution you are presenting. Now turn it into a question. Make sure it’s relatable enough to get a response from the public. If you question is too complex, think down to what the root of the problem is and frame it that way.
If you are presenting new research or products, begin your presentation with that discovery. You don’t have to give out all the details right away, but you can begin with the inspiration or motivation that got you where you are now. This presentation opening drives home the innovation and originality of your work.
Example: I learned something new that seems so obvious now. Clients respond better when you give them options. I know it sounds obvious, but for the last 5 years I ran my business giving my clients only one process to work from. It wasn’t until last year when a client asked to change the process to meet their schedule that the light bulb went off. Why don’t I always offer all my clients the same flexible process? In the last year, my business has doubled in profits and my customers are happier with the new options.
Now you try: What was your “ah-ha” moment? What the singular event that changed the way you do business? Use that as your presentation opening.
Last but not least, there’s the story presentation opening. This is a popular one because we all love a great story. The opportunities are endless for the types of stories you can tell. A personal story, a funny story, a customer story, a company backstory, the list goes on. This is an impactful way to open your presentation and relate to your audience.
Example: Let’s go back to 1977. It was May. School just let out. And a new film was about to open in theaters. At the time, it was just called Star Wars. Today it’s known as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. I was only 10 years old, but I yet to walk out a movie experience that left me so excited, so hopeful, so full of energy. That 10-year old me had no idea that I would go on to pursue a career in screenwriting that would take me to Hollywood.
Now you try: What’s your favorite story? Doesn’t matter if it’s personal or from a book. Think of a story that you love to tell. Is there a way to include it in your presentation opening? Think of the similarities between your presentation and your favorite story. Find the one or two things they have in common to frame and tie together your presentation opening.
Download the template and share it with your colleagues! Presentation Template for Writing an Opening
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