Every PowerPoint presentation relies on a great opening in order to establish a common ground between the presenter and the audience.
Apart from setting the tone for the rest of the presentation, the opening allows you to create interest as well. Delivering an engaging opening is also a way for you to assert your qualification/credibility as a speaker. So, after a second or two of clearing your throat, what’s next?
To help you out, here are some good opening ideas that you may want to try:
1. Ask a question
This is one of the most popular ways to start a PowerPoint presentation. Asking your audience a question allows you to set the framework for the entire talk.
It instantly captures attention and builds interest. Use this technique as if you’re starting a direct conversation with an individual. In fact, you could even engage some members of the audience in a real yet short conversation relevant to your presentation.
2. Share a personal anecdote
According to Buffer CEO, Leo Wildrich, stories can be powerful. When you share a story with your audience, you are letting them relate to you on a personal level. This is because, like metaphors, stories appeal the right side of the brain and lowers people’s skepticism against sales and advertising pitches.
Stories allow you to appeal to their emotion from the get-go. As long as it is significant to your presentation, your personal anecdote can help you establish rapport with your audience.
3. Use humor
Opening with a light-hearted joke is a nice way to break the ice. Humor eases lingering tension, and establishes a more personal connection with the audience. Be very careful with this technique, though.
A humorous approach will only work if the joke is relevant to your message, suitable for your audience, and well, actually funny. Avoid sensitive or offensive jokes that might put you in a bad light. If you’re unsure of the punchline, it might be best not to say it at all.
The Takeaway: Get to the point
Sometimes, you don’t have to begin with a “formal” opening at all. Depending on the situation, you may do away with the usual warm-ups and get straight to the point.
This usually works if you are pressed for time and you are in a meeting with CEOs, venture capitalists, or anyone who makes big business decisions. If this is the case, you may want to present your main points in the first few slides.
How you start your presentation comes down to your style and preference. It’s up to you to choose the way with which you are at ease.
“How to Use the Persuasive Power of Metaphors.” Enchanting Marketing. 2013. Accessed June 2, 2014.
Widrich, Leo. “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story Is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains.” Lifehacker. Accessed June 2, 2014.