The first two minutes determine the fate of your presentation. Learn 4 ways to open a presentation with credibility, and make your audience sit up and listen.
What is a good ‘opening’ for a presentation?
A good opening helps you achieve two objectives for your presentation. They are:
- Grab your audience’s attention and
- Establish your credibility
If you fail in either of these, your presentation may not take off.
2 reasons why an opening should grab attention and establish credibility:
It is observed that most business executives experience ‘neural fatigue’ in their work. In layman terms – ‘Neural fatigue’ is a condition where the tired brain loses its ability to focus on routine, mundane things.
When your presentation starts with, “I wish to take this opportunity to thank…” your audience switches off. So, your opening should be strong enough to grab the attention of your fatigued audience.
People buy you before they buy from you. If your audience feels that you don’t understand their problem or you don’t connect with them – they stop listening to you.
When you open a presentation with, “The history of my glorious company is…” they shut off their minds. So, your opening should establish a relationship with your audience.
How to make an opening for a presentation that achieves these 2 objectives?
Here are 4 creative ways to open your presentation with credibility:
The first way to open a presentation is to use…
1. Use Empathy:
The structure for this opening is:
“I understand how it feels to be (state the problem condition). In the last few years, I’ve been in your situation many times before. All those times, I wished someone would show me an effective and inexpensive way to overcome my recurring problem. But, I never got my answer. Today, I am happy to provide that answer to you, so you don’t have to suffer the way I did”
The first sentence gets the connection. The next few sentences strike a chord. Your audience has no other way than to listen to the rest of your presentation. Let’s see an example of how this structure is used…
Example of empathy opening is:
“I understand how it feels to be overweight. 2 years back I was so obese that I couldn’t walk for 2 minutes at a stretch. I tried several methods but none worked.
I wished someone would show me an effective and permanent solution to my problem. I found my answer and you see the proof. Today, I wish to share my solution with you”
When you use it the right way, this opening never fails to grab your audience’s attention. Since you show the proof for your claims, you gain audience trust almost instantly.
The second way to open a presentation is, to use…
2. Criteria and Comparison:
The structure is of this opening is:
“When it comes to choosing a (product/service type), there are 3 things you must consider to avoid (state the pain). The reason to consider the first criterion is ——-. The reason for the second criterion is ————. The reason for the final criterion is —————–. Let me show you how my product fares against those 3 critical criteria”
This type of opening for a presentation, educates the audience, before making an offer. Since your educating them establishes you as an expert, you gain credibility in the minds of your audience. Your offer gets seen as a recommendation made by an expert.
Needless to say, you’ll position your unique strengths as criteria for selection. Let’s see an example.
Example of Criteria and Comparison Opening is :
“When it comes to choosing the right consultant to provide presentation skills training to your staff, you should consider three factors to avoid wasting your training dollars.
The first is – the depth of specialized experience of the consultant in conducting presentation skills training programs, second – the list of reputed clients who recommend the consultant, and finally – the proof of results.
Let me show you how we fare against these three important criteria.”
We know that it works every time. It is the method we use to sell our services. Do ensure that the rest of your presentation is creative as well. This will make sure that your audience stays glued throughout.
The third way is to use…
3. Mistakes and Solutions:
When you mention the common mistakes made by people in a specific field, it gives you the ‘been there, done that’ flair. It helps you to connect with your audience, while showcasing your experience.
The structure of the opening is:
‘Most ——–people make 3 big mistakes while doing ———–. The mistakes are ——–, ———– and ——–. Let me show you how you can avoid making the same mistakes and come up with the right solution”
This type of opening positions you as an experienced problem solver. When you present your offer, it feels as if you are doing an act of kindness.
Example of Mistakes and Solutions Opening:
“Most HR professionals make two big mistakes while choosing managers for top positions.
The first is – they select from a small pool of candidates. This limits their options and yields poor results.
The second is – they go by the optimistic opinions of the candidates in solving hypothetical problems, rather than relying on their past performance records. So, candidates who dazzle in interviews turn out to be duds on the ground.
Today, I’ll show you how to choose the right people for your top positions, by systematically avoiding the two common mistakes.”
Remember to pick a presentation structure that flows well with the presentation opening you select.
Now, the final creative way to open a presentation is …
4. Myths and Realities:
This method gives you an aura of path breaker.
The structure of the opening is:
“The two big myths of doing (mention the task) are ——————– and ———————. Today, I will break those two myths. I will demonstrate how by following a simple method, you can achieve what’s considered impossible by most people.”
Let’s see an example of how to apply Myths and Realities Opening:
“The two big myths of making great slide designs in PowerPoint are (a) it takes special talent to produce professional slide designs and (b) you need additional software to make studio quality slides. Today, I will show you how you can make stunning slide designs by following the simple principles taught in presentation-process.com and by using their affordable diagram templates.”
These 4 presentation openings are carefully structured to get your audience buy in, before you make your suggestions.
Here is a summary on how to open a presentation with credibility:
- A good opening grabs audience attention and establishes your credibility
- The four methods to open with credibility are:
- Criteria and Comparison
- Mistakes and Solutions
- Myths and realities