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How to start a presentation [The best opening ideas]

If you’re reading this article right now, chances are you’re in the midst of preparing for an upcoming presentation. You’re sitting in your chair, surrounded by notes, and feeling the pressure to deliver a knockout performance. But you can’t seem to figure out how to start.

Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. This article is all about providing you with the inspiration, ideas & examples you need to kickstart your presentation and leave your audience in awe. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in.

Why is presentation opening so important?

“The start of a presentation is like a movie trailer. It needs to captivate the audience, and make them excited for what’s to come.”  —  Unknown

Presentation opening is absolutely crucial because it’s the first impression you make on your audience, and it sets the tone for the rest of your speech. Think of it as the appetizer before the main course, or the opening act before the headliner.

Without a strong opening, your presentation may fall flat, and your audience may lose interest before you even get started. So, it’s important to put some thought and effort into your opening to captivate your audience and keep them engaged throughout your presentation.

Presentation Opening [Ideas and examples from real people]

Below, we have outlined a handful of ideas that will help you start your presentation like a pro. So, let’s dive into some proven strategies that will elevate your presentation game.

1. Provoke a thought from the Get-Go

When you make your listeners think critically, you empower them to take an active role in the conversation and connect with you on a deeper level. By sparking their curiosity and encouraging them to explore new ideas, you can create an unforgettable experience that keeps your audience engaged from start to finish. So, the next time you give a presentation, consider how you can use thought-provoking techniques to make your message truly memorable.

For example, let’s look at a TED Talk by author and speaker Simon Sinek. In his presentation titled “How great leaders inspire action,” Sinek starts by asking the audience a simple but thought-provoking question:

“Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others?” He then goes on to explain how great leaders think and communicate differently, providing examples from successful companies like Apple and Southwest Airlines. By starting with this question, Sinek immediately engages his audience and sets the tone for a presentation that challenges traditional ways of thinking about leadership and success.

You can check out the video here: Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk

2. Leverage the power of storytelling

Stories & anecdotes have the power to transport us to a different world, evoke emotions and connect us with people we have never met. This is why storytelling is a remarkable tool for starting a presentation. It has the ability to hook your audience and captivate them, making them eager to hear more.

For example, Steve Jobs used storytelling to start a presentation during the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. He began by saying, “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” He then proceeded to tell a story about how the iPhone was developed and what it could do.

By using storytelling, Steve Jobs was able to create an emotional connection with his audience and make them feel excited about the product he was about to unveil.

3. Show vulnerability

When you show your human side and share a personal story to start a presentation, you demonstrate that you are relatable and authentic. This builds a deeper connection with your audience and makes them more receptive to your message.

For example, Brené Brown is a renowned speaker who often starts her presentations with personal stories that illustrate her vulnerabilities. She speaks openly about her struggles with shame and perfectionism, and by doing so, she creates a space where her audience feels safe to do the same. This sets the tone for an honest and authentic conversation, which can lead to deeper learning and growth.

4. Be bold & challenge/contradict their beliefs

Starting a presentation by challenging your audience’s beliefs is a bold move, but it can be incredibly effective. By introducing a controversial idea or questioning commonly held beliefs, you immediately grab attention and engage the audience. When you challenge your audience’s beliefs, you encourage them to consider new perspectives, which can lead to a more engaging and memorable presentation.

For example, this approach was delivered by Malcolm Gladwell in his TED Talk titled “The Unheard Story of David and Goliath.” Gladwell challenges the traditional interpretation of the story of David and Goliath and argues that David was actually the favored contender in the battle. By presenting this controversial perspective, Gladwell not only captured his audience’s attention but also encouraged them to reconsider their assumptions about the story. This approach ultimately led to a more engaging and memorable presentation.

Here’s a link to that video if you’d like to watch it: The unheard story of David & Goliath

5. Visuals to the rescue

Opening your presentation using images, videos, or even memes adds an element of entertainment to your presentation and makes it more memorable.

For example, in one of his TED Talks, Sir Ken Robinson used a series of humorous cartoons to illustrate his points and engage the audience. The visuals helped to break up the talk and added a lighthearted tone, which kept the audience engaged and entertained. So, whether it’s a funny meme, a powerful image, or a video, incorporating visuals into your presentation is a great way to kick things off on the right foot.

Work with us

If the task of crafting your presentation narrative seems daunting, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Our consultants are here to assist you in putting together a compelling story and designing your slides, ensuring that you make a lasting impact on your audience. So, why not seek professional help and make your presentation stand out from the crowd?


Ink Narrates is a Presentation Design Agency. We craft storytelling PowerPoint presentations & provide services in presentation outsourcing, pitch decks, sales decks, animated presentations, template systems & design guidelines. Basically, we live & breathe presentations!

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