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How To Start A Presentation Tips And Tricks – 22 Powerful Strategies


In this article, we will lay down presentation tips and tricks. Learning how to start a presentation is just as important as knowing how to finish it.  It is the beginning of the conversation that can make or break it in capturing your audience’s attention.  We forget that there are many ways to start a presentation that will engage the hearts and minds of the people you want to convey your message to.

At CustomShow, we value the importance of pre-design considerations and slide management, and we also understand that the delivery can be just as important as the slides you may use.  We wanted to list power tips and tricks that anyone from marketers and salespeople to the common man can use to nail the beginning of their next presentation.  We have a list of 22 strategies to consider, but we want to share a video that provides some more presentation tips and tricks for effective b2b presentation:

Start Your Presentation By Getting People’s Attention

People's Attention

Getting your audience’s attention from the beginning is the most important thing one can do in starting a dynamic presentation.  Yes, you want to introduce yourself and complete the formalities as quickly as possible, but without grabbing their attention, you’ve already lost them. Remembering the importance of design and capturing the attention of who you’re speaking to will set you up for the many other strategies we convey.

Welcome Them With A Thank You

Another important formality is welcoming your audience with a thank you.  It shows both sincerity and appreciation and additionally establishes a sense of community with your audience.  A great example of this is welcoming them coupled with a thank you for the opportunity to speak, pitch, or share.

Memorize Your First Opening Line

In general, it is not a good idea to memorize your entire speech. It is however a good idea to memorize the beginning 4 – 10 sentences.  This is critical because it allows you to feel confident and ride the wave of confidence as you continue your presentation or team presentation.  Even marketers and salespeople can benefit from this approach with slides they use to further buttress their messaging.  Most people think the best presenters wing it. While this is true, they typically practice and memorize the beginning and ending of their talks.  This is a professional practice you should always leverage to your advantage.

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State The Purpose of Your Presentation

Generally, your audience will know your purpose or why you’re there but you want to be sure to make it clear to them. For example, as an investment advisor, you may be pitching to help your client succeed in an online stock trading opportunity. As you begin to pitch to your client, they’ll know you’re there to talk about how you can help improve and diversify their investment portfolio. But another approach can be changing the purpose to “I’m here to discuss my team’s capabilities but more importantly discuss opportunities you can pursue and why they would be effective.” Thinking about the purpose gives you that northern star to point throughout your presentation and they’ll constantly revert to it.

State How You Want to Deal With Questions

Always remember to let the audience know how you will handle questions.  If you are in a marketing or sales presentation, I would not bring this up. Simply give them the free will to ask questions when they best see fit.

Silence…Nothing More

We are all uncomfortable when there is silence.  Yet incorporating silence into your creative presentation can be a valuable tool causing the audience to be attentive to what you are going to say next.  

Tell A Joke

As a follow-up to silence or as a standalone, tell a joke to elicit laughter from the audience.  Even for marketing and sales representatives, this can be a way to lighten the room and become more connected with the audience.  Don’t overdo this as it can steer people away from your purpose, but proper usage of this technique can be effective in starting any presentation.

Start Your Presentation in The Future or Past

Many directors use this approach in their storytelling.   They will start a scene in the far past or in the future and then always connect it back to the main story.  This is a powerful tool to arouse the attention of the viewer, or in the presentation’s case, your audience.  There are many great examples of this. One approach that marketers can use is displaying market activity from the past yet showing how your strategies can impact that performance.

Quote Someone

Quoting someone is a great way to start any presentation. Just be sure to make it relevant to the purpose of your speech and presentation. If you are using slides, add a picture of the person you are quoting to add the best fonts and breadth to your presentation.

Open up With Being Vulnerable

We know that great speakers can be tough as nails, but those who upon up about their lives or their stories build a deeper relationship with their audience.  When you start your presentation showcasing your ability to be vulnerable, you are giving yourself more chances to maintain the attention and interest of your audience.

Tell Your Audience a Story

Tell a story

This is as basic as it gets, but storytelling is the best way to connect with an audience.  You can start at the beginning of your presentation and then connect it to the purpose of why you’re there.  Many great presenters use this technique and it remains one of the most critical pieces to becoming an effective presenter.  Nick Morgan wrote an interesting post on this in Forbes.

Point To Their Problem

If you are pitching for business, this is a great strategy.  You don’t want to come across as negative but thinking about problems that the company may not have thought of can be even more effective than simply stating what they already know.  Some of the best marketers and salespeople (including Steve Jobs) employ this philosophy regularly.

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Point To Their Opportunity

The flipside is showcasing what opportunities they face.   Show them the many benefits they could achieve by following your lead or the action you want them to take.  This sense of optimism can perk up the audience and get them engaged pretty quickly.

Ask Questions (Direct or Rhetorical)

To start a presentation you can begin with direct questions to the audience.  It’s a great way to wake up their senses, get them engaged and get you more connected with them.  

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Start With Video

Video remains a powerful mechanism to begin a presentation. In an industry roundup we did at CustomShow, we asked presentation experts for their thoughts on the video. They all agreed that it is an important prop but should be used sparingly. Therefore, create a video that is short and crisp and helps create a visual representation of your ideas. Keep in mind you want to use video to further your message, not overtake your message.

Shock The Audience

There can be a plethora of ways to shock the audience.  You can show a funny video that showcases or furthers your purpose, state something contradictory to most people, or make fun of something….the sky is the limit.  Remember to be smart about how you choose to shock your audience as it could backfire if what you do is offensive to the majority.

Statistics & Data

Showcasing data and statistics to prove a point remains a critical strategy not just at the beginning but also throughout.  Use research and data only to further your points.  Statistics can be boring but if there is some compelling information that can help further the conversation, statistics and data can be powerful tools, whether used at the very beginning or end of any presentation.

Use These Words: “Imagine, Think of, Close Your Eyes”

Another powerful mechanism used by many speakers is getting the audience to imagine or think of something. This technique can be useful in starting a presentation.

Use The Power Of “What If”

What if you knew how to start a virtual presentation and capture your audience?   What if your audience could be connected to your message and the words you say?  The power of “what if” gives people a sense of how things can be if they follow your lead or your message.  Again, that is why understanding your purpose and stating it gives people something to point to.

Show of Hands – Poll The Room

Just as if we’re asking the audience a question, we also want to get them engaged with a “show of hands” question.  This is another technique many presenters use to create context and commonality.

Project And Speak From The Gut

Now we’re back to formalities that can help maintain and capture the audience.  If the audience cannot hear you, you will lose them.  Speaking from the gut (not in a low-pitched voice/from your throat) will add more volume and breadth to your speaking from the very beginning. While this is oftentimes overlooked, it’s one of the most important techniques speakers can use.

Eye To Eye Contact With Audience Members

For those who tend to get nervous in larger audiences, picking different people in the audience to speak to can ease those nerves. Start this at the beginning of your presentation speaking to them directly.  Pick different people to speak to in the room and everyone will think you are talking directly to them.

We would love to hear from you – what other techniques have you employed over the years?  There are many tips and tricks presenters can use, but these are some of the most powerful ones that the very best presenters have used over the years.

If you’re looking for more design tips and tricks check out our partner SalesGraphics.

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