It is weird how now that we all live on our laptops and depend on them for entertainment and livelihood, things that shock us aren’t that many. This is a big itchy spot when it comes to engaging audiences and having a killer opening.
Lets focus on getting that perfect first slide in your presentation to help you kick off on the right foot.
How to open presentations
Opening presentations is an extremely daunting task. The worry of putting your best foot forward but at the same time not coming across as arrogant and the whole issue with fanning your armpits just before you step on the stage.
Yeah, I know. I relate, I think most of us do. We have braved those sweat patches and we have conquered.
It is time to up our opening game and while I will be getting to the ways we can do that, you can also check out this video for a quick idea.
What should be the first slide of a presentation?
Your first slide, needs to be impactful, with minimal content. An extremely difficult balance to maintain, but! Not impossible.
Your first slide, traditionally, is your name, the topic you are going to speak on and maybe on or two other details with MAYBE an image or some other graphics.
Gone are the days when we open speeches or presentations the traditional way, nothing wrong with it, but doing something “not normal” often helps us get people’s attention and that is the easiest way to get your points across and have them received positively.
Let’s check out a few ways you can open slides for a strong opening!
Strong Opening Slide Ideas
We’ve got our thinking cap on, let’s get cracking!
There are so many ways we can have a strong opening, even when you think presentations limit you.
Think of it this way, because people know you’re going to presenting something, they are going to give you full control of a projector. A big ass screen for all to see. If that isn’t filled with potential, I don’t know what is.
Well, with great power comes great responsibility, so let’s check out a few ways we can have killer opening slides, while of course being responsible… ish.
Idea 1: Introduction
There is no better way to get the audience to remember you than putting a giant photo of yourself on the screen and going, this is me, – an extremely edited version of me, but still, me. 🙂
Buddy. No. That was an attempt at being the funny – clever person. Clearly it didn’t work.
Don’t get me wrong, talking about yourself is good, important even to some extent, but that is it you see, it isn’t the fact that you’re talking about yourself that is the problem but what are you talking about that is.
The usual go to is to list out your biodata for the audience to read on the screen, while you speak the exact same thing off of the presentation. This is where we go wrong, no one wants to know about all your seven Ph.Ds. Bruce. (get the reference please)
Be proud of your qualifications, you earned them, but know when and where which qualification might be useful.
For example, you are a certified chartered accountant and have written plays that were on Broadway. In a screenwriting workshop / panel / seminar, as great as getting your chartered accountancy is, your experience as a writer holds way more value and is what will help you get the audience’s attention.
Let’s create an opening slide with the above example.
I used these polaroid photo ideas because for a play on Broadway, we’d love to see pictures! You can use tasteful pictures and even stock photos to help your audience get the right idea of your background.
Of course, I used these random paper elements to give it a more “writer” feel and also because this is my aesthetic, but you need to remember that this is your presentation and no cookie cutter mould will work. Even templates are meant to be edited to suit your needs.
Idea 2: Quiz
Is this to make your audience feel dumb? As much as that chaotic evil side of you may want to. Never do that. Respect their experiences as much as you would want them to respect yours.
Starting off with a quiz is a great way to warm up the crowd and get them involved in your presentation. Give them something to think about and it honestly doesn’t matter if they get it right or wrong, what matters is that they are trying to answer and interact!
Quizzes are a great ice breaker and also a great tool to get the audience going, you can also try to have a one off question or a series of questions.
Lets take the slide as an example, it could be for a presentation on a film industry and the question could be, guess the film from these three pictures, or they could be three different questions.
Remember as an opening slide, it should neither be text nor image heavy, just the right amount.
You could even create a game out of those quizzes and have checked off your list and even use these as a starting off point and come back to the topics (which could be your answers) while using this quiz as a reference point. The possibilities are endless!
Idea 3: Stimulation of Imagination
It always great to know what your audience is thinking, or in the least get them thinking!
You see, once they start thinking, they begin forming an opinion about the topic, which gets them invested and since you are the person addressing the topic, they will begin comparing their point of view / opinion with what they are saying.
There will always be different perspectives, what matters here is that they are invested enough to pay attention to you.
A really easy way to help them get started with forming an opinion is, asking them to take a minute to think about something.
For example: Think about a dancing monkey.
Can some of you describe the monkey you imagined, in the comment section? Was it wearing tap shoes and a top hat? Was it wearing a marching band uniform? Did it have your best friend’s face on it? Mine did!
Each of you had your own Dancing Monkey, and if thinking about it for a few seconds made it your own, imagine the attachment you can build by just spending a few minutes or even the duration of a presentation on it!
For example, you’re taking a presentation on perspectives or psychology. You can display this image and ask them what they think of it. Some may think about freedom, some loneliness and some people’s thoughts may be so profound that we could’ve never thought of it!
Idea 4: Video
This could work just as marvellous as sharing an image and opening a short discussion on its interpretations. You could even start with a video and use it as a segue into your presentation.
For example this video could be used as a great example for a marketing strategy by the brand and could be a great way to get the audience interested given the emotional quotient and relatable sibling content.
Idea 5: Image
Using an image might not necessarily mean that you can only invite the audience to imagine and think on their own. You can use an image to start your presentation and help get your point across.
You see that how the image is the hero of the slide? There is text, definitely, but much smaller, it looks as a complementary to the image instead of the other way around.
In this slide for example, assume poverty is the topic, a very telling image of poverty could help get the conversation started and make the audience more receptive of the topic.
An image in a way helps them “put a face” to the issue and that makes is easier for you to hold their attention and keep it.
Idea 6: Quote
It is well known and understood how impactful the right quote at the right time can be.
Lets focus on some things that people can often get wrong when using quotes.
Firstly, using long quotes, this is a no no when it comes to presentations because, then the audience will be in a rush to read the whole quote and if your point is made before then, well, we won’t get the desired effect will we?
Another thing to keep in mind is to not have a quote just to use it as a quote, pretty cryptic, honestly it is simple, if you are giving a presentation on a person and using their quote or you are using a random quote, make sure to have something to add to it.
It could be something simple. For example when talking about a person’s life:
“When this person said this, they were on their death bed, but they had lead a vivacious life until then to say the least, let’s start at the very beginning…”
Notice how despite there being a background picture, a text box, a bird in the corner, and all that, the text is what is the hero of the slide. You could even add a picture of the person whom you are quoting if it seems relevant.
Remember to always give credit where it is due. It never hurts.
Idea 7: Story
Who doesn’t love a good story? Storytelling is a major part of public speaking where animation, emotion and gestures and tones play a huge role in delivering your point.
With presentations, you need to remember to not just select any story, you need find / write a story that connects well to your topic, for example, if we are speaking about technology, a story about Alice and her looking glass don’t really give you much room to work in a segue.
Storytelling is a whole other conversation, check out this article to learn more about public speaking and how storytelling factors into it: Public Speech Into Story: 3 Steps To Telling A Captivating Story
Here the pictures are the heroes, and while words are important, make them complementary to what you are speaking.
Starting off with a joke is also a very popular trick and I think why should it be this or that, why should it be a joke or a story, why can’t it be a humorous story?
Now don’t go fretting about because it doesn’t have to be fictional, it could even be an anecdote from your experiences or maybe one comic strip you found online.
When it comes to humorous speeches, it can be quite intimidating, but here is an article I think will help you wade through these waters: A Guide To Using Humour In Your Speech
Idea 8: Examples
This is a great way to introduce your topic to a crowd that doesn’t know your topic well. Create examples or situations to help your audience gain a smooth entry into your presentation.
It is like math, it is fun when you understand, and that means you care and give attention to it.
You can also use case studies or make your examples into stories to make it more subtle and seamless.
Here is where a traditional topic, sentence and image layout of an opening slide is best suggested. You can build this in any direction and still be able to relate to your slide.
Idea 9: Hard Facts
Facing facts instances that are always either pleasantly welcomed or hard to swallow. Hitting the audience with hard facts works really well, especially if what you are going to talk about is a difficult or sensitive issue.
An astonishing fact is bound to catch people’s attention and you can always use it to your advantage!
According to Femme International, over the last 20 years, the sanitary pad sector has bloomed and advanced; they have taken over the industry and 85% of menstruating women in the country use napkins.
As society progressed and the taboo on periods were lifted from many regions, a new problem came up. One which is really harmful. We all know that the blood that comes out during our periods is harmful and full of bacteria. Now include this bacteria filled blood with a pad which takes 500-800 years to decompose.
That’s right, 500-800 years of a used sanitary napkin breeding bacteria in rivers, drains, soil and the sea. A menstruating woman uses 15-20 pads for one cycle.
Which sums up to 7,200-9,600 pads over an average period of 40 years. This is just for one woman. According to UNICEF roughly 26% of the world’s population are menstruating women.
This means that 2.28 BILLION women are going to use over 9,000 pads EACH during their menstruating years.
Always try to not keep your introductory slides text heavy, but when starting with facts, try to highlight them, notice how the topic and the image are not very prominent but play their part in bringing together the entire slide while the first thing you read is the fact, underlined and set in the middle.
Try to play around with the layouts, figure out what suits your needs the best.
Idea 10: Controversial Statements
Who doesn’t love controversies?
Even if we know something is clickbait, it still catches our eye. Even if we know something to not be possible, when someone says it – with conviction, our ears do perk up.
It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary, just not ordinary enough that it catches people’s attention and in the end, you can always use it to connect your conclusion to your introduction.
Here is a great TEDTalk that would help you understand what I am talking about.
If you plan to use this method, it is easier to dive into your slides after you’ve made the statement and start elaborating on it instead of right at the beginning, it could start with your topic or some proof or where ever your presentation takes you!
A presentation carries as much personality as its maker, if you want the right impact you need to use the templates, infographics and tools available to you to the fullest, but remember, there is a thing called “too much” as well.
The easiest way to kill it with your presentations is to keep it neat, in your aesthetic and to the point. Make it engaging, make it colourful, make it black and white. It would work perfectly if it bounces off your personality on stage.