Different Techniques in Writing the Introduction of your Presentation
The first requirement when giving a presentation is to grasp the audience’s attention. Normally by wanting to introduce ourselves and complete the formalities as immediately as possible, we begin with an awkward greeting, thank everyone for coming, give a little self-introduction then begin to mumble about the subject such as “Good morning, thank you for coming today, my name is… Today, I’m going to talk about….” But have you ever thought if this kind of opening performance is effective? You may be able to deliver the points you want to share in your introduction but you started without creating any interest for the audience to want to listen.
In order to catch the attention and keep your audience’s interest throughout your presentation, you must carefully plan on how you would deliver your introduction. It is best to write it to make sure that it is well structured and at the same time, you have a reference when you are reviewing your talk. In crafting your introduction, you may use different techniques to put some spice on it and make it more appealing to your audience. Depending on your preference and purpose, you may choose among the following techniques below to make your introduction impactful.
A. Common Introduction Techniques
1. Start with Personal Reference
This is one of the simplest strategies to begin your presentation where you will discuss your relationship to the topic or audience in your introduction. This kind of beginning can be effective when you have established yourself in a certain field and have already positioned yourself to be a credible authoritative resource on the subject. You may also use this if the audience recognizes you and have high regard for you. However, make sure that you use this appropriately otherwise, your audience may set off defense mechanisms even at the onset of your presentation.
2. State your Begin with a Reference to the Subject
In this strategy, you show your listeners how important the topic is to them. You emphasize the applicability of the subject in their life. This technique can be effective when arousing the curiosity of your audience because people would normally listen and are interested in something that they find useful and beneficial for them to know.
3. State your Main Point
When considering time constraints you may state your central idea at the very beginning of your presentation. You need not make your audience think first then realize the gist of your presentation eventually. This is apt to the kind of audience that is busy and prefers directness.
4. Open with a Reference to the Event
In some instances, you may be requested to talk about an eventful situation. In this case, you may start your speech with a brief reference to the event, state the relevance of your topic and why it is timely to discuss it.
5. Provide the Definition
If you want your audience to remember a certain word or concept, then you may elaborate it by giving its definition. This way, they will be able to analyze and absorb it even at the start of your presentation. Also, this will help them to be able to connect your main points to the defined concept. However just make sure that you don’t overly elaborate it, as others who have been so familiar with the word might feel that you are just stating the obvious.
B. Introduction Techniques that Appeal and Invoke Certain Emotions
Whether its curiosity, amusement, surprise, or fear, introduction techniques that appeal to certain emotions will engage the hearts and minds of the people you are presenting to. The introduction techniques below will help you to invoke the emotions of your audience.
1. Tell a short story
Since everybody enjoys hearing good stories, storytelling is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. With a relatable character, your audience is more inclined to listen to your presentation and in the process, they can also identify with the character’s emotions. If you are sharing a personal experience that they can relate to, this would create a bond between you and them that would encourage them to be more collaborative. To be able to make this technique effective, your story should contain a message that you can connect to the points that will follow. Just make sure that the story won’t consume time as much as it should and won’t bore the audience.
2. Quote someone else.
A brief and relevant quotation can be a strong opening that will catch the attention of your audience. This can be from a statement made by a notable person through printed material or oral testimony. Quotations provide an initial thought to your audience that helps in setting up what you’re going to talk about next. Just be mindful to avoid choosing quotes that sound cliché.
3. Tell a joke.
A touch of humor can be effective in starting any presentation as it breaks the ice and helps your audience to relax. Your listeners will be instantly engaged if you make them laugh and you can easily establish a connection with them. For this to work well, you must choose a joke that is relevant to your presentation and be careful not to overdo it to the point that it would steer people away from your main purpose. Choose a fresh, amusing and appropriate joke, to avoid turning the audience off. Be careful also in your humor choice as some jokes are easily misinterpreted and may offend your audience. Only use jokes that you are confident in delivering and only use this technique if you are comfortable with it. If not, then it’s more advisable to use other techniques.
4. Begin with Stimulating Statements
Using thought-provoking statement in your introduction is helpful when your listeners are apathetic. By sharing something that your audience doesn’t expect to hear, it catches and holds their attention. People tend to ignore something that they are familiar with, but pay attention to something that they are uncertain on what would happen next. Striking statements and unpredictable twists create an instant jolt that makes your audience intrigued on what you’re going to say next.
5. Ask a rhetorical question.
Another clever way to kick off a presentation is to ask a rhetorical question to your audience. It is intended to make them think but does not really require them to answer out loud. You only hope that they will consider the question and answer it in their minds. To employ this technique, you can ask the questions like ‘Have you ever thought of’… ‘Do you wonder why’… ‘What would you do’. Since your question arouses the curiosity of your audience, it motivates them to remain attentive and find out more in your presentation. When using this strategy, use a rhetorical question that is relevant to your topic and your audience profile, or else it will confuse them why you asked it.
6. Present a Surprising Statistic
With this type of introduction, you begin by sharing a surprising statistic that would stimulate the interest of your audience. Since we are living in an information age, this technique creates a strong impact when the facts you presented are not common knowledge yet are relevant. This may either help you to startle, create an empathy, call to action or spark curiosity among your audience. Just be sure that you don’t go overboard when using this strategy. It is better to keep your statement brief and avoid very complicated data. Focusing on numbers too much may overwhelm your listeners and you may lose them by having too many easy-to-forget details.
7. Start Presentation In Future Or Past
You may start a presentation by telling a scene in the far past or in the future and then connect it back to the main topic. To encourage your audience to take action, you can talk about the possible future on how things could be if something is done in a certain way. You can also talk about the past and use the lessons learned from the things that were done well and the things that didn’t work out for a similar purpose. This technique enables your audience to realize what could have been done or must be done to make something better.
8. Point to a problem or opportunity
Another strategic way of beginning your presentation is by talking about your audience’s pain point. This catches their attention and interests them as it triggers an emotional reaction on them. Their curiosity on how to deal properly with their pain points enables them to be more engaged in your talk and wonder about the solution and opportunities you might suggest in your presentation.
9. Begin with a Descriptive Scene and Use The Power Of “What If”
Another way of gaining the attention of your audience is to get them to imagine something. You may do this by using words like “imagine”, “think of”, “close your eyes”, “picture this” and utilize descriptive words in order for them to be able to visualize effectively. You may also ask them the question ‘what if’ to encourage them to envisage something. This enables them to think of how things can be if the situation is really what it is according to how you described it in your message. As a result of sharing the same vision with you, it encourages them to follow your lead. When using this strategy, make sure that you have described everything down to the last detail in your introduction and not just abruptly cut it.
10. Use a Combination of Techniques
To ensure that you give an impactful introduction, you may start your presentation by combining the above-listed techniques. Just be creative on how you can smoothly tie your chosen techniques together to make it more appealing to your audience.
The key to having a cogent introduction is by carefully planning it. Write down all your ideas and considerations, then identify which introduction technique is the most fitting to use in your presentation, If uncertain what works well, you may try different strategies until you come up with the most appropriate one. Also, If you are not comfortable in one technique then you may use the other. What matters is that you are able to craft a rousing introduction because the first few minutes of your presentation will be the determining factor whether you will be able to grasp or lose the attention of your audience
Pro Tip: The techniques cited above don’t only apply for introductions as they can also be used throughout your presentation. Some of these may be used in the closing or body of your speech so it would be advisable to get yourself familiar with them. To easily craft and use these techniques, you may read English materials and watch videos of presenters to further increase your ideas and get some inspiration.