If you want to convince your audience to take action, you better know how to start a persuasive speech, or else you will loose right at the start. The first 10 to 20 seconds of your presentation is the time when you have the most attention. Use this time wisely with awesome presentation openers.
Time to Overthink your Presentation Openers
If you don’t capture your audience’s attention right away you’ve probably lost it forever. Chances are that after the first 60 seconds (at the latest) people’s thoughts will drift off to thoughts like: “What am I gonna have for lunch today?”, “Has my daughter done her homework?”, “Where did I put my phone?”
You get the point: you need to hook up your audience from the moment you enter the stage or stand up to give a short talk. Time to think about a presentation opener that will blow them away.
Start before you say the first word
Don’t think of your presentation opener only as the actual words you’re gonna say. Your opener starts before you even open your mouth: it’s the way you enter the stage, the way you smile at the audience, the way you’re dressed, your voice and body language. So prepare yourself, stand tall, smile, be enthusiastic!
Don’t start by introducing yourself
In case you’re asking yourself whether you should introduce yourself first: the answer is no. At least not in the traditional way. Chances are your audience already knows who you are; either they are working with you, they read your name on the speakers list or heard you being introduced by a moderator. Remember that your presentation should always be about the audience – not about you. Don’t waste the critical first seconds introducing yourself.
Hi, my name is Bob, I have 22 years working experience in the field of Presentation Coachings and am currently writing a book on Powerpoint and today I will talk about the history of stuttering. I have worked with many people in this field and I have learnt that (…) blablablabla
Wanna know a guaranteed way of boring your audience to death the moment you open your mouth? This is it. Have you ever heard Steve Jobs open his presentation with “Hi my name is Steve”? Chances are you haven’t. Not only because the world knew who he is anyways – also, because it’s just a bad opener. Why? People wanna know what’s in for them. They are far less interested in you as you might think.
You are not as interesting as you think
Your presentation should be about your audience and what they can take away from it. So if you have to introduce yourself: do it in the context of your presentation and do it only after you’ve hooked the audience up.
How to start a persuasive speech or presentation? Hook them up!
So coming to the point: You need to capture your audience’s attention right away. How can you do this? Here are our favorite tactics:
Surprise/ Shock: Shocking or surprising your audience with statistics or facts is a great way of getting their attention. As said before: give them the most interesting piece of information right away. You can still explain it later.
$3 Mio (Pause) This is the value of sales we have forgone last year” is a much better opener than “Today we’re going to discuss last year’s sales figures”. “The world’s richest 1 percent is now wealthier than the rest of humanity combined” will shock people rather than “Today we’re gonna talk about income inequality.
Story: We all love stories and engaging people with a surprising or funny anecdote is one of the best ways to get your point across. Take Steve Job’s famous commencement speech at Stanford as an example:
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. (…)
It’s surprising, confusing and it makes people curious. He’s taking his audience on a journey.
Humor: Make the audience laugh and they’ll love you. Humor is one of the best presentation openers ever (if used correctly). There are few things that make us connect to another person as easily as by laughing together. But be careful: make sure your joke fits the context.
Engage your audience right away by asking them questions. Look at the first paragraph of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk:
How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent,the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him?
It’s a 20 second introduction just consisting of questions and one of the presentation openers that grab your attention right away.
Video/ Graphics: If it’s a product presentation why don’t you simply show them the product? This is what they came for. Or show them a short video. This is a great way if you’re battling stage fright. It hooks up the audience for you while you get the chance to concentrate on your next steps.
There are countless ways of opening your presentation. Choose a presentation opener that makes sense for your topic and practice it a few times. Try it next time you’re addressing your audience and you’ll see the results.
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And you have to find perfect hooks for an essay even when you don’t know what to write about.
When you are asked to write an essay, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get to express your own thoughts and creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal. As a writer, your first priority is to make sure that you are keeping your audience in mind and writing for them and to them. That means grabbing and keeping their attention so that they want to read every word.
This is exactly why the essay hook exists and is such an important tool.
The use of hooks in writing goes far beyond just essays and college papers. Every writer, copywriter, screenwriter, and storyteller uses this device to draw in readers and keep them hooked. For example, world-famous ad executive, David Ogilvy, relied on a list of 29 “magic words” that he used in titles in order to hook a client’s attention.
College essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially when you are still working on clarifying what your essay is going to say. So, the very first step in writing a strong essay hook is to do some planning.
This type of hook is appropriate when you are writing about a particular author, story, literary phenomenon, book, etc. Using a quote will make your essay sound fresh and establish your authority as an author.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” These words of Nick Carraway perfectly describe…”
“Not all those who wander are lost.” And yes, indeed, every person is so…”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Agree or not, but these words from The Alchemist determine…”
Including a quote from an authoritative and influential person can help support your argument and create an intriguing hook. The key is to make sure that you clearly show how the quote is relevant to your essay.
“John Wooden once said, ‘Never mistake activity for achievement.'”
“Learn to laugh” were the first words from my kindergarten teacher after Ralph Thorsen spilled paint on my daffodil picture.
Don’t be afraid to employ this type of hook. Remember, even if you start with a humorous anecdote, it doesn’t mean that your entire essay has to be funny. A bit of humor can help you grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.
“As my cousin and I pedaled our new bikes to the beach, 6 years old, suntanned and young, we met an old, shaggy-haired man weaving unsteadily on a battered old bike.”
“When I was a young boy, my father worked at a coal mine. For 27 years, he made it his occupation to scrape and claw and grunt his way into the bowels of the earth, searching for fuel. On April 19, 2004, the bowels of the earth clawed back.”
Keep in mind that most essay assignments will ask you to avoid using the first person. Be sure to check any requirements before using “I” in your writing.
Almost nothing can attract interest better than a well-constructed question. Readers will want to continue reading your essay in order to discover the answer. Be sure to avoid simple “Yes” or “No” questions and try to pose questions that ask reader to consider the other side or engage in some critical thinking.
“What would you do if you could play God for a day? That’s exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer.”
“Have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide?”
People respond well to visual cues. Taking the time to set a detailed scene will help your reader have a clear picture in their minds and create an effective hook. You can describe an incident or detail the particular features of a person or a character to help the readers become immersed in your writing.
“The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at our door in Charleston, South Carolina.”
“Deciding to attend Hampton Roads Academy, a private school, was one of my most difficult decisions.”
These types of hooks start by surprising the reader with something that may not have known. Provide an interesting fact about something you are going to discuss in your essay’s body and your audience will want to keep reading to learn more.
“Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.”
“Amiable is the best way to describe Elizabeth’s personality: she was friendly and caring.”
There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your main argument and use the rest of your essay to support your point of view. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.
“It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday. . .”
“Humans need to invest more time and money into space exploration because Earth is on a certain path to destruction.”
The most interesting essays will teach the readers something new. If you start your introduction by showing that a commonly accepted truth is actually false, your readers will be instantly hooked.
“Any parent will tell you that goldfish are a great first pet for a child. They hardly need any attention, and they won’t be around for too long. Flushing a goldfish in its first week is pretty common—it even happened to my first goldfish. But it turns out that goldfish aren’t as helpless as we all think.”
“While most coffee enthusiasts would tell you that their favorite drink comes from a bean, they would be wrong. Coffee is actually made from a seed that is simply called a bean.”
By listing proven facts at the very beginning of your paper, you will create interest that can be carried throughout the rest of the essay.
“The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”
“70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies”
We started getting requests about editing help, tutoring or recommending someone for essay writing. Here’s the page to visit for more information: bid4papers.com/write-my-essay.
Depending on the style of essay you are writing (narrative, persuasive, personal, critical, argumentative, deductive, etc.), the type of hook you will want to use will vary. Remember, your essay hook is just a tip of an iceberg and it will not guarantee that the rest of your essay will work. Be sure to organize your research and start with an outline before deciding on the best hook to start your essay. The right choice can make your paper truly interesting and worth reading.
Written by Lesley J. Vos, our blog writer and essay proofreader. Lesley is a big fan of reading, and she is always ready to help students come up with good ideas for their papers and reach their academic goals. You can always find her on Facebook and Google+.