How to Start a Presentation

We’ve all had to give a presentation on something at some point in our lives. Whether we’re learning how to become a public speaker or just needing to give a small presentation on something at work, chances are, we’ll be needing to speak on something at some point.

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For many of us, this presents a unique challenge within itself. If you have the common fear of public speaking, it can be stressful to gather the courage necessary to get up there and give that big speech or presentation. The hardest part of all? Starting.

Once you do start that presentation, everything else can fall into place easier. But how do you know where to start in an effective way that sets you up for success?

Here are some tips on how you can easily start a successful presentation.

Why Is the Beginning of a Presentation So Important?

Why exactly is the start of your speech so important? We all know how impactful learning how to end a speech properly can be, but what about the other end of that spectrum?

We all know how important it is to make a good first impression, and starting an oral presentation to a group is no different. 

The beginning of the every good presentation or speech is what introduces you to your audience. It qualifies you as a reliable source to give this presentation, relates you in a personal way to the audience, and engages them in a way that keeps audience’s attention on you and what you want to talk about.

So how can you open your presentation in a way that accomplishes all of this? There are a few guidelines that you need to follow to ensure success and a few different ways that you can accomplish them.

The Elements of a Good Beginning

When you sit down to learn how to write a speech outline, you’ll naturally begin at the opening or beginning. There are quite a few different ways of doing this, but each way has to establish a few key connections and accomplish a few things to validate you as the speaker.

Here are the three most important elements that should be a part of any speech introduction.

Eye Contact

First, no matter how you open, you’ll have to be sure that you make eye contact with your audience. Making direct eye contact creates a personal connection with the audience and can make them trust you. It’s also an excellent way to begin telling your compelling story. 

One great example is when you think about having a conversation with someone who just can’t seem to make eye contact with you. They keep looking away, shifting their gaze behind you or all around you. It probably made you uncomfortable, right? It may have even made you feel like you couldn’t trust that person.

Avoiding eye contact is a quick way to lose your audience’s attention. It makes you seem shifty, unreliable, and uncomfortable.

Body Language

Another important part of beginning your presentation is your body language. No matter what the content of your speech is, your body will betray you if you don’t fully believe what it is that you’re telling your audience.

A shifty posture, changing your weight from side to side, or fidgeting and twitching can show your audience that you’re not comfortable with being there. 

When you’re giving a speech or presentation, you become a sort of conductor. You lead your audience on a journey to the conclusion that you want them to come to with you. When you think of leadership qualities, do you think of someone with slumped shoulders who can’t seem to stand still? Or do you think of someone who stands still and proud with their chest out, wasting no extra energy by moving around unnecessarily? Probably the latter, right?

Take one of the most effective public speaking tips with you to the beginning of your next presentation: your body is what shows the audience your confidence. You can control how the audience views you (and, in turn, how intently they listen to you) by controlling your body language.

Walk onto the stage with an air of confidence and comfort. This helps the audience trust you and follow you through the speech and argument you are about to take them through, no matter what words follow.

Engagement with Your Audience

Lastly, for an effective presentation, you need to make sure that no matter what, you’re engaging with your audience. 

You should make sure to add an element of relatability to your opening statements. This creates that personal relationship that is so important when you’re a public speaker. 

The personal connection is made all the more important in knowing how to write a persuasive speech. If your audience already views you as an individual who they have at least one thing in common with, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say.

If possible, you can even make yourself be perceived as a personal friend of the members of your audience. We’re all more likely to take advice from close friends than from total strangers, so try to gain some sense of familiarity between yourself and the audience to form a stronger, more persuasive argument throughout your speech. 

This personal connection can be created by telling them a joke or opening your presentation with a personal story to show that you’re just a person like they are.

Different Techniques for Starting Your Presentation

Now that you know the essential aspects of opening a memorable presentation, let’s take a look at a few of the most effective ways that you can open your speech and create that instant connection with each of your audience member.

Some of our favorite ways to open presentations are:

  • Tell the audience a joke.
  • Open with an inspirational quote or historic reference.
  • Tell them a personal story.
  • Ask them a question.
  • Present them with a “what if” or imaginary scenario.

Use any one of these proven techniques to begin your presentation in a way that grabs the audience’s attention and maintains it.

The Best Place to Start Is at the Beginning

When it comes to giving a great presentation, just with anything in life, getting started is the hardest but most important step in your journey. Maui Mastermind can help you formulate a plan of action to create the most successful business possible.

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How to Start a Presentation
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How to Start a Presentation
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Maui Mastermind Business Coaching
Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.