How to open a speech

5 different ways to start a presentation

When you start a presentation you have 30 seconds to get the attention of your audience. You need a good strong powerful opening when you stand up to deliver your next speech. In this article, I share  five techniques that you can leverage when you start a presentation to get an audiences attention so you can sell them your great ideas.



Share something Personal

The first technique that you can use to get the attention and hook your audience when you start a presentation is to share something personal. It is important you understand it has to be personal to the audience. You have to demonstrate to your audience that your topic, what you’re going to cover, is relevant for them. Whether that’s through stories or through your own experience, through a client testimony or client story.

Whatever mechanism you use, you have got to show them that the topic that you’re presenting is personal and relevant for your audience. If you only talk about yourself and you only talk about your clients and your client’s experiences, as an example, and don’t relate it back to your audience, they will lose interest and not pay attention – very quickly!

Your first technique is to make sure that the opening of your presentation is personal and directly related to your audience.


Share something Novel

The technique that you can use get the attention of the audience when you start a presentation is to share something novel. This can be a novel experience, a novel fact that they haven’t heard before. Ultimately it must be novel to your audience. It must something that they haven’t heard before. Something that is going to be of intrigue, and have an interest factor to them. Again, whether that’s through a client’s story, through a fact that they haven’t heard before, that’s relevant to them, to their situation, and to their circumstance.

When you have something novel to share, you will get your audience’s attention. You will get them thinking and listening to you because they haven’t heard it before. It means you’ve got to dig a bit deeper, think a bit harder, research a bit broader to find that novel idea, that novel story. The better that you know your audience, the easier it’s going to be for you to find something novel.

Take the time to find a novel story, a novel fact about the topic that you can use to start a presentation.


Start a presentation by challenging your audience

The third technique is to challenge your audience. Earlier in this article we spoke about doing something novel or unique. Something your audience hasn’t seen before. You can take an alternative approach and challenge the audience’s thinking. Every audience has assumptions; or ideas that they believe about their circumstances or their situation.

One of the great ways that you can get their attention, to get them thinking, is to challenge those assumptions. If you know what their thoughts are, what their assumptions are about the predicament on what you’re talking about, you can challenge them.

Find a quote or find a statistic that directly conflicts with their assumptions!

By doing so, you will demonstrate that you understand them, and you will build a great deal of rapport. But you will also get them thinking because by challenging their assumptions, you are will be directly conflicting with their beliefs and with their view of the world. You will get their attention and they will listen to you. They won’t necessarily agree with you but they will listen to you because nobody likes their view of the world being directly challenged.

You can do it in such a way that you can get their attention and build rapport with them by challenging their thinking and then showing them how you can help them realign their thinking, persuade them to accept your ideas.

Find those facts; find those stories which challenge their thinking; their assumptions; and you will get their attention.


Do something unexpected

The fourth mechanism that you can leverage to start a presentation is to do something unexpected. It’s similar to challenging them with a particular fact or a particular story. You can do something unexpected – maybe it’s a demonstration, something a bit creative. Just get their attention!

Everybody walks in and they have an expectation of how the presentation will be delivered. They think they know what a speaker is going to do. If you can challenge that and do something a little bit different, you will get their attention because it’s breaking their thought pattern.

Try and find some creative mechanism to do something unexpected, something a little bit creative (related to your presentation topic), and you will get their attention.


Make your audience laugh

The final technique I want to share in this article is to make the audience laugh, make them smile! This can be combined with any of the four previous techniques. If you are sharing stories, if you’re sharing quotes, you can make light of them; find a humorous aspect to it.

Humor is awesome when it comes to speaking and awesome for influencing people, because when people laugh it means that they’re relaxed. When they are relaxed, they’re open to new ideas, open to listening to you – they trust you.

Use it to your advantage. If you’re sharing a story, if you are sharing something which you can find humour in, draw that humour out and make your audience laugh. You will get them open up to your ideas, and, most importantly, you will have super strong rapport with them.

We’ve covered five different techniques that you can utilise to start a presentation, open your next speech. Leverage them to get the attention and build rapport with your audience. If you would like more help then I encourage you to check out the Mastermind and Vault Programs available. I have a range of free articles, resources, that will help you develop your speaking skills, develop your ability to influence, and become the leader and authority in your field.

About The Author

Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.