Presentation Skills: The Hook (the opening)

By Morag Barrett on May 15, 2012

Posted by Morag Barrett | May 15, 2012Presentation Skills: The Hook (the opening)How you choose to start your presentation is probably THE most important part of your presentation.  Research continually shows that you have about 8 seconds to attract your audience’s attention and to hook their attention.  Have a look at the first draft of your presentation.  Does it have an inviting and exciting opening?  How could you make your opening more engaging?  What could you differently to capture your audience’s attention so that they stay with you during the remainder of your presentation?First piece of advice is to avoid the predictable (and boring) opening to a presentation:“I am here today to talk to you about…”or any apology of any kind:“I’m sorry that you now have to listen to me”Look at the opening you have written for your presentation – see if you can shorten it.  If it currently takes you 3 minutes to make your point, try to do it in two, then one, and less if you can.  You need to be precise but if you can capture the key message in as short a time as possible, then that will help to keep you focused, and ensure that your audience is clear on what to expect from your presentation.Now back to your opening… Instead of the ‘tell them what you are going to tell them’, try a different approach…Ask a question – “How many of you have ever XXXX”Ask a rhetorical question – “Poor identification of future talent in the workforce costs companies $x million per year.  How much is it costing you?  [pause]  Today I will share techniques and approaches that could save you x% of this.”Use statistics – 11% of employees are actively disengaged in work.Link it to a headline in today’s newspaperUse a story to set the sceneThe unexpected approach to starting your presentation will cause your audience to sit up and take notice.  To wonder what the link is and where you are going, once you have used one of these suggestions (and I sure you have other ideas as well) then you need to set the scene, what are you going to cover, what will the audience learn and allow them to sit back and enjoy the journey.Related ArticlesTags »communicationPresentation Skills Share
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