How Should You Begin A Presentation?

Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Presentations

The beginning of your presentation is an opportunity for you to engage the audience’s attention and ensure they are listening before you get into the main content of your presentation.

A presentation which starts 'my name is...' is a safe way to begin but may send a message to the audience that they are NOT going to be surprised by what you have to say.

Likewise, an agenda slide listing 10 items normally heralds the beginning of another information-driven 30 minutes or so. 

So what can you do?

You can take your audience by surprise; you can intrigue them; you can shock them.

Ways for you to consider include beginning with:

• an interesting question

• an anecdote

• a surprising statistic or a fact

• a humourous comment

Whatever you choose, an effective opener should illustrate your key message and relate to your presentation theme. It should also be appropriate for your particular audience. If your audience has just listened to 6 presentations which all start with a personal anecdote, you are not going to engage them as easily with personal anecdote number 7. So ask yourself what your audience is used to? What do they expect? What are other speakers likely to do?


But before all that, there is a much simpler and more effective way to open your presentation: make eye contact with your audience, welcome them to the event with an open gesture and smile. This immediately creates a connection between you and your listeners. It is, without doubt, the most engaging (and human) way to begin.

And it works every time.