Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Engaging Ideas: A leader’s guide to creating employee & customer commitment

Opening a Presentation

Most airplane difficulties occur at two critical points: take-off and landing. The same is often true of presentations. A strong opening will create additional confidence and is an opportunity to make an immediate positive first impression.


Key Points

  • Get favorable attention quickly
  • Lead naturally into your presentation
  • Build goodwill
  • Create points of agreement


  • Use an exhibit
  • Dramatize your ideas
  • Get participation
  • Cite points of agreement or common ground

Avoid the apology. "How often we all have heard speakers begin by calling the attention of the audience to their lack of preparation or lack of ability. If you are not prepared, the audience will probably discover it without your assistance." -- Dale Carnegie


1. Captivating Statement
Option: Analogy
Example: "I remember first learning how to drive a car. I thought it was going to be very simple, but quickly discovered how complicated it is. Learning to master the skills of driving a car is very similar to launching our strategic initiative of..."

Option: Startle
Example: "Look around the room. One in three of you will likely be out of business this time next year if you don't change two simple things you are doing right now."

Option: Good news
Example: "Yesterday we closed out the books for the past fiscal year. Great news! We hit all our financial targets. Everyone in this room is getting a bonus!"


2. Question
Option: Gain information
Example: "Let's take a quick poll. How many of you have been involved in our Service with a Smile training program so far this year?"

Option: Get participation
Example: "In a moment, would each person in the room please use one word (or sentence) to describe your reaction to our topic for today. For example, my word is 'excited.'"

Option: Create agreement on a need or interest
Example: "If there were a way that you could increase your billable time while, at the same time, increasing your client retention, you would probably want to know about it, right?"


3. Incident
Option: Personal experience
Example: "My wife and I were driving home through a bad storm late one night. Suddenly, a car coming from the other direction lost control and veered into the grass median. It was swerving, bouncing, and curving right toward us! We barely missed each other, but there was a severe collision right behind us. I felt numb and lucky to be alive, but my wife took action. We backed up to the accident, and she immediately went to help. Other cars were slamming on brakes and steering around the wreckage. She was a hero. The lesson I learned relates to why we are together today."

Option: Third party
Example: "Just last week, I went into the office of our chief financial officer and saw that he had a big smile on his face. I asked him what in the world could make him so happy, and he began to tell me this story."

Option: Historical
Example: "In 49 B.C. Julius Caesar was approaching Rome with the Roman legion and stopped at the Rubicon river, the point of no return. Advancing across the river would create inevitable civil conflict. Caesar reportedly said, 'The die is cast,' and marched forward to ultimately become the undisputed master of the Roman Empire. We are facing a similar turning point..."


4. Compliment
Option: Listeners
Example: "You probably don't realize the value that you create for people and organizations. You manage craftsmen who actually create value with their hands, their tools, and their skills. There is an art to your business that is disappearing. I hope you take pride in what you do and in the impact that you create."

Option: Organization
Example: "Most people in this room are probably unaware that our organization was the first in the world to..."

Option: Individual
Example: "I know that one person in this room has earned your great respect. Four years ago, she showed fortitude and vision in creating and launching a tremendously successful new product line. We are all enjoying the benefits of her determination. One thing you might not know about her is...."



See more related articles:

Your Message/The Use of Evidence

Closing a Presentation


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