Did you know that the average attention span for a typical audience lasts about 5 minutes before you start running the risk of losing them? Couple that with the harsh reality that 79% of audiences think presentations are boring right out of the gates, make it that much more vital for you to nail your presentation intro hook to defy those unevenly weighted stats.
All in all, seasoned PowerPoint presenters know that the odds are against them the moment they step on the stage, which is why they optimize themselves for success by hiring a presentation design specialist, practicing their cadence on stage, and solidifying that their presentation intro hook will be one that both grabs and maintains their audience attention far beyond that 5-minute timer. That said, presentation intro hooks are not a one size fits all scenario, and there are several directions you can take to help accentuate your chances of securing fruitful, A to B audience engagement.
Attention Grabbing Intro Hooks
Spark Engagement By Asking A Question Or Two
Asking yes/no questions, open-ended questions, rhetorical questions, or a mixture of all three is an excellent presentation intro hook to grab an audience’s attention. Even if some members do not answer you out loud, they will still be engaged as they answer/ponder the question in their heads. In addition, asking a bunch of questions in a row can also help stretch your audience’s minds further as you concurrently use that as your introduction to the topic you will be discussing.
PS: To get the most out of this intro hook method, be sure to pause for a moment between each question.
State the Problem in Stark Terms
Go the Elon Musk route as he did on the Tesla Powerwall 2015 Debut, and start your presentation intro hook by going straight into the heart of the problem. But the key here is to do such in a stark, dramatic way that resonates with your audience. The more shared the problem is, the better off this hook will perform. In other words, use the “straight to the point” direction, but use an approach that grabs attention by sparking the notions of shock, confusion, or perhaps even excitement. Whatever the case is for your unique message, sometimes skipping the ‘beating around the bush’ stance is exactly what you’ll need to do to keep audiences engaged.
Use “What if…?” or “Imagine…” Statements
What if and imagine intro hooks work wonders at changing audience perspectives, which prompts them to want to learn more about what you have to say beyond the hook itself. For example, “imagine if you could teleport” or “what if you could stop time”; these phrases can get the audience’s gears turning and subsequently engage their minds. It can also spark wonder and curiosity on where you will be going with this statement in your presentation – keeping them focused and alert to understand the full circle. For the best effect, be sure to pause between your statements as you would with questions.
Hook Them With A Story
The human brain is biologically hardwired for storytelling; people generally both narrate and share lived stories through conversations every single day. With this base, beginning your PowerPoint presentation with a compelling story makes for a perfect intro hook that can keep your audience interested. Doing so reminds your audience that you are human, makes you much more relatable, and can break down the protective barriers some people erect when they think a presenter will be talking at them rather than to them.
Open With A Picture, Video Or Prop
Much like how humans are wired for storytelling, humans are also highly visual creatures. Using that to your presentation advantage, you can opt for things like pictures, a video, or a prop to help propel your message better. The best part regarding this one is with something like a picture, your audience will be looking at that more so instead of you in those first few moments, which can take some initial pressure off without hindering your impressionable impacts.
Tip: Consider using this in conjunction with concepts like storytelling or asking questions to amply audience engagement even more.
Use The Art Of Provocation
Finally, provocation is a powerful tool to hook audiences and amplify their curiosity. All in all, making a claim about something that is completely against mainstream belief can keep an audience on the “edge of their seat” as they begin compartmentalizing the rest of your presentation that backs up why that provocation claim happens to be true. A prime example was Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk intro stating that in order to save the world, more people needed to play video games. Like Jane demonstrates, the secret to this presentation intro hook is to state something that your audience is convinced is the opposite and then slowly walk them through your logic slide by slide so that they can’t fully figure out why your claim is true until the very end.
Summary – Make The First 30 Seconds Count
In the world of PowerPoint presenting, if you don’t grab your audience right out of the gates, then there is a high chance you will lose them forever. This is why presentation intro hooks are such a fundamental piece of any presentation structure – one worth putting in the time, energy, and focus into to not just get it right, but ensure that your deliverance of it is perfect.
Overall, you have about 30 seconds to get your audience interested in you and what you have to say. But keep in mind that as critical as your presentation intro hook is, your efforts could become null & void if you do not have the proper visuals and slideshow baseline to back it up. In summary, every part of your presentation deserves time and attention, and to help extend that already thin line, leverage a presentation design specialist to ensure that your PowerPoint is positioned to secure invested attraction. In the end, the most renowned presentations stem from a village of professionals who come together to meet a shared vision, and Brewer Presentations would be honored to become a part of yours.