So we have the content of our presentation sorted, we know it is worth listening to, but we need to grab our audience instantly and get them ready for the journey! But far too often, the start is as simple as "Hi my name is Chris Dawes, and my presentation is going to be about...". They already knew that from the invite and the welcoming slide they were greeted with as they entered the room, so to start with that means that we run the risk of losing them before we even truly begin!
When we are asked about the most important part(s) of a presentation, we always say the start and the end! But it is all too easy to fall into the trap of putting all of our effort into knowledge dumping in the middle. If we get their focus and interest piqued from the start then we know they are more likely to pay attention, and if we say last what we want remembered most then we are more likely to get an outcome we were after.
Some people suggest a joke as a potential way to start, but in all honesty it is more a case of using one of the aforementioned ways to start but with humour in it, rather than just opening with a joke that may not appeal to 1 or more people in your audience. No one likes a tumble weed start if the audience don't react how you were hoping, and unless your presentation is about jokes, it probably isn't relevant... But a humorous powerful quote, short video, photo, story, question etc. could work well. The advice we give though, is to only really do it if you naturally crack jokes with others.
All of these potential high impact ways to start can be played around with, mixed and matched, and alternated. But what doesn't change is that you want them to pay attention, and you want it to enable you to relax into the presentation in those opening couple of minutes when your nerves/adrenaline are at their highest. So it is absolutely vital, once you have written the content of your presentation/speech/meeting, to put just as much thought and effort into how you are going to start and end your presentation.
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