5 Killer Ways to Start a Presentation: Part 1

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“The hardest part is starting. Once you get that out the way, you’ll find the rest of journey much easier.” – Simon Sinek

Need to smash your next business presentation, but not sure where to start? We’ve got you.

In the first few slides of your presentation, you need to grab your audience’s attention, pique their curiosity and introduce your topic. After your first few slides, your audience should feel involved, invested and intrigued, and they should have absorbed a decent amount of background knowledge on the topic you’re covering.

Try one of the 5 methods below to achieve your attention-grabbing goals:


Opening with a powerful, relevant statistic is a great way to pique your audience’s interest, evoke emotions and offer context. Whether your statistic is designed to cause surprise, concern or curiosity, leveraging cold, hard data at the beginning of your presentation can help you set the scene and grab your audience’s attention.

Let’s say you work for a stuffed animal company and you’re pitching a group of investors. If you opted for the statistic opening, you might choose this one…

‘34% of adults still sleep with a stuffed animal, blanket or other sentimental object.’

Are you intrigued? We are!


We’ve covered weaving a story into your presentation in other resources, but starting with an anecdote is another great way to sneak the power of storytelling into your presentation. Opening with a short, relevant story designed to evoke an emotion in your audience (surprise, humour, sympathy, etc.) can set the scene for the larger story that plays out throughout your presentation.

If, for example, you worked at a company that sells an advanced smoke detector, you might start with an anecdote about the risks involved with outdated smoke detectors:

‘Six years ago on a sunny Monday morning, my friend Carla woke up in an apartment filled with smoke…’

Does Carla make it out? Whether she does or doesn’t, you’ve encouraged your audience to step into Carla’s shoes, communicated the danger that makes your product necessary and primed your audience to stay focused on your presentation.

Captivating Image

Opening your presentation with a powerful, high-quality image, whether it’s visually stunning, interesting or even puzzling, is a great way to capture your audience’s attention. Starting with a visual works best when you let your image shine; fill the whole slide with your image and don’t block it with text or other elements. If you need to include a header or logo, try placing it in the white space. (For more tips on using white space, check out our blog, X.)

Let’s say you’re the tourist board of a small country hoping to make a deal with an airline to boost tourism. You might choose an image of your country’s beautiful scenery, an important landmark or a high-end resort.

Bold Statement

Starting with a bold, relevant and engaging statement can help you set the scene for your presentation. Like a statistic, a bold statement should evoke an emotional reaction in your audience like surprise, concern or curiosity (or all of the above).

One way to approach this method is by stating the overarching problem in your presentation. Let’s say you work for an airline hoping to improve sustainable practices. You might say something like…

‘Our customers want us to change.’

Your statement doesn’t need to give a detailed overview of the problem. It’s okay to be vague with the words on the slide because you, the presenter, should be explaining the details.

Audience Participation

Ask a question, start a poll or tell a joke! Getting your audience directly involved at the start is a great way to make sure they’re engaged and invested throughout your presentation. Unlike the other opening methods, this one doesn’t need to be relevant to your topic, but it can be if you find the right tie-in!

Let’s say you work for a company selling health and safety software designed to eliminate pen-and-paper forms. You might start a pitch to a potential client by giving a poll:

‘Where do 67% of paper health and safety reports end up?’

  1. In the hands of leadership
  2. With a manager
  3. In a drawer, waiting to be reviewed for years
  4. In the bin

Aren’t you curious? Your audience will be!

Bookmark this page and come back to it before your next presentation! Plus, stay tuned for another installment, 5 (More) Killer Ways to Start a Presentation.

Need an expert hand with your next presentation? Get in touch today.

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