Review of “Start strong – 3 gripping ways to open your talk” by Craig Hadden

craig-hadden-bw-framed1This is a review of a blog post by Craig Hadden, who blogs about presenting at Remote Possibilities. Craig is an instructional designer living in Sydney, Australia. Currently, the main tool he uses at work is Articulate Storyline. He loves “the way presenting is both a science and an art.” Craig has a Graduate Diploma in Computer-Based Learning.

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 Craig’s post, “Start strong — 3 gripping ways to open your talk,” is important because people tune out quickly if they think your presentation will be boring or irrelevant. In fact, he starts his blog post strong. Here’s his early prescription for how to start your presentation:

powerpoint-tips-start-begin“What’s the best way to start strong? Involve people emotionally! To do that, mention their hopes or fears surrounding your topic – while still being professional of course. That engages your audience because they’re drawn in at a gut level. And, it’s so different from the norm!”

In the professional world, people often try to strip their speech from all emotion, but everyone in your audience has emotions. They all feel something. Going a little deeper than they expect will certainly gain their attention. You just have to be careful not to damage people’s feelings.

Craig provides 3 suggestions for starting a presentation:

  • Ask people to imagine a scenario involving risk or opportunity.
  • Cite a startling statistic. (Yes, a number does draw people in emotionally, provided they find it startling.)
  • Share a story or anecdote about success or failure (like in this example of being terrified before speaking).

It’s hard to give examples because every situation is different. You might be presenting to your peers, subordinates, or to executives. You might be presenting at a conference or to the public. Writers in the presentation industry sometimes make narrow assumptions about the type of presentations you do. Craig handles this situation by suggesting a specific situation of you presenting “to managers at your company about onboarding their new hires.” Then he gives 3 very specific examples of the exact words you could use to start your presentation using a scenario, a startling statistic, or a story.

(Go read them here–they’re good examples.)

I’ve written about ways to start a presentation in “How to start a presentation” and “A good introduction/opener.”

To keep up with Craig’s posts (usually one per month), leave a comment below his post and check the “Notify me of new posts via email” check box at the bottom. He’s worth listening to!


Please leave a comment with an example of one of these types of openers that you have used or might use in the future. These suggestions will help others a lot. And please share this post with others using the Share buttons below.

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How to start a presentation

powerpoint-tips-speaker-in-front-of-blurred-audienceThe first minute after you start speaking is crucial. Your audience wants you to succeed, but they also judge you pretty quickly. So don’t be boring in that first minute!


…say “My name is x and my topic is y. Let’s get started.”

…just read the name of your presentation and go to the next slide



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Visualizing concepts-24-hour protection

This week I worked with a client who sells dust protectors for computers and one slide said that his products offer 24-hour protection.

It was an important concept to visualize because of the emotional impact. People are afraid to lose their data (dust is one of the top reasons that computers fail) and 24-hour protection makes them relax, knowing that their data is safe from dust.

Presenters often struggle when visualizing concepts because the concepts may be abstract or because they simply can’t find the right graphic.

powerpiont-tips-visualize-concepts-1I found this image at, where I have a lifetime account. The site has both photos and vector files and I use it a lot. I think it’s the best value in royalty-free images around.

To get it into PowerPoint, here’s what I did:

  1. Downloaded the EPS file.
  2. Chose Insert, Picture and inserted it into PowerPoint.
  3. Ungrouped the image and clicked Yes to convert it to a drawing object.
  4. Ungrouped it a second time.
  5. Deleted several blank rectangles, leaving me 2 objects, the arc with the arrow and the clock hands.

Unfortunately, the hands were all one object and I wanted to animate just the hour hand, rotating it around the clock to represent 24 hours. So I deleted that object and created 2 hands with simple lines. Of course, I matched the color and width of the arc.

Tip: To get the rounded end, right-click the line and choose Format Shape. In the Line section, change the Cap Type to Round.

Creating the clock from scratch

Since you might not have access to this image, I figured out a way to create it from scratch in PowerPoint. It’s a bit of work to create the arc and you might be satisfied with a full circle instead of a partial one, but I really liked the arrow effect.

Here’s how I did it. (7-minute video)

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Beyond storytelling: Create an experience

rob-kawalsky-zeetings-profile-picThis is a guest blog post by Robert Kawalsky, CEO and Cofounder of Zeetings, a software company changing the way people present their ideas to the world. Kawalsky is also an active investor and advisor to technology and internet related businesses.  Kawalsky previously held the position of Portfolio Manager at Keybridge Capital where he grew and managed a portfolio of assets across shipping, aviation, renewable energy and real estate.

Zeetings is an easy-to-use software platform that boosts the return on investment of presentations and events by keeping audiences engaged, providing data­-driven insights to presenters, and helping people stay connected. Zeetings has helped boost the return on investment of over 15,000 presentations, events, meetings and training sessions.

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Mount Kilimanjaro

There’s an incredible moment flying into Moshi, the town at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. As the plane descends, it leans into the mountain and you swing around  the south face of Africa’s highest peak. It is at that moment that you realise, surrounded by clouds and still at an altitude of well over 19,000 feet, the mountain’s highest point, called Uhuru in Swahili, exceeds the altitude of the plane.

I experienced that moment five years ago as I stared out of the small oval window at the mountain I had flown 12,000km from my home in Sydney to climb.

The night before our seven-day climb commenced, we met our guides -­ three cheerful and knowledgeable Tanzanians for whom climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was just another day at the office. We had countless questions for them and were eager to hear stories about previous climbs. They weren’t buying it. The simple, and prophetic, response they kept giving us was that the stories could never do the experience justice. We should wait for the real thing.

Of course, they were right.

Storytelling is powerful, but an experience is more powerful


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Become a master cropper–PowerPoint cropping secrets

powerpoint-tips-cropping-1Recently a member of the Power Pointers Quarter Hour weekly training program asked me how to crop a headshot of a person to fit into a circle. I did a training session on the topic and thought I’d share the basics with you.

The reason this is difficult is that the headshot needs to be a perfect square; otherwise you’ll distort the image as you see here.

How to crop to a square

There are 2 little-known features of cropping that you can use to get some nice effects and also to create consistency among multiple photos on a slide. Read more! →

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A neat little psychology trick for quickly laying out messy slides

taylor-croonquistThis is a guest blog post by Taylor Croonquist. Taylor is the co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, a website delivering actionable PowerPoint training and speed strategies, helping professionals cut their build time in half (at least). Prior to Nuts & Bolts, Taylor lived and worked in China for 10 years in finance and consulting. Learn more at

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If you’ve ever had a lot of stuff you want to include in your slide but couldn’t figure out what to do with it all, then you will love this neat little psychology trick when applied to your slides.

This neat little psychology trick has 3 distinct advantages:

Advantage #1: As the slide builder, it makes your slides easier to lay out and design .

Advantage #2: As the presenter, it makes your slides easier to present.

Advantage #3: As the audience, it makes your slides easier to understand.

The answer is chunking.

Chunking is a psychology memory technique whereby large groups of information are broken down into meaningful chunks that are more easily memorized; and it works great for complicated slides.

As an example of chunking in the real world, just think of your own phone number. Instead of memorizing it as a single 10-digit number (XXXXXXXXXX), you probably have it memorized as three different chunks of numbers (XXX-XXX-XXXX), right? That’s chunking in action!

And when you start applying this neat little trick to your slides, you’ll find that almost EVERYTHING in PowerPoint is easier when it’s thought of in chunks of information.

Chunking with Shapes / Pictures


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9 tips to design presentations for webinars

powerpoint-tips-9-tips-design-presentations-webinars-1aI recently gave a presentation on this topic at the Presenters Network meeting in Manhattan and thought I’d share with you my points for designing presentations for webinars.

By the word “design,” I mean both the visual design of the slides and the design of the content.

Webinars have many advantages over live presentations:

  • No travel (time or cost)
  • Greater reach (all over the world)
  • Easier follow-up
  • Availability of a recording

They also have some disadvantages:

  • Difficulty of keeping people from multitasking
  • Lack of engagement between the presenter and the audience

The points below address these disadvantages.

1. Use and design for the webcam


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4 steps to create a video from PowerPoint slides

You can create great videos using PowerPoint! A common reason to create videos is to post them on YouTube but you can post them on a website or on social media as well.

You can make them as simple or as complicated as you want. Here are the basic steps to create a video from PowerPoint slides:

1. Create animated slides (including transitions)

Of course, you start with animated slides. The basic concept is to keep things moving like they would in a video. A video is a very different medium from a slide presentation, so you have to think differently.

For example, after you apply entrance animations, you can apply exit animations so that objects come in and go out. Use some of the more extreme animations that you would never use in a regular business presentation.

2. Add audio (narration and/or music)


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Anticipate the next slide with transitional statements

In writing, it’s good practice to create transitional statements between paragraphs or sections. For example:

“Next, I’ll cover how you can implement the ideas I’ve discussed.”
“On the other hand…”
“That was one example; now I’ll give you another example.”

The same is true when you speak. Transitional statements help glue your points to each other and to your talk as a whole. They make clear the relationships between ideas. These relationships make the entire talk hold together for your audience.


Gluing slides together

Unfortunately, when people use slides, they often think in discrete chunks because each slide is a separate element. This turns into an awkward pause as they switch to the next slide. This is especially true then they aren’t sure what’s coming next.

You should always know the content of the slide that is coming next! Read more! →

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Why you need a story for your presentations

powerpoint-tips-story-presentationHow do you persuade people to implement your training, buy from you, or approve your proposal?

Yes, you need a good “offer,” whether that offer is to help trainees perform better, improve client’s results, or get more done with less money. But a good offer isn’t enough.

Lots of research has shown that emotion is necessary for people to make a decision. They buy in because it feels good. They believe that whatever you’re offering will help them in some way. It’s a common saying that people buy on emotion and justify it afterward. This applies even when the transaction isn’t a purchase for money. They buy the premise of your proposal. They accept that your training will get them where they want to be in the company.

And perhaps the best way to convey emotion is through a story, especially when backed up with strong images. For more information on how to choose the right images for your presentations, see my post, “4 secrets to choose the best images for your slides.”

So you need a story for your presentations. You can use many types of stories:

  • Case studies
  • Examples
  • Your story (an experience you had)
  • Stories about employees or customers
  • A story in the news
  • A story from history

A good way to start telling stories is to find something from your own experience that illustrates your point. It’s obviously going to be original, it’s personal (adds emotion), and you already have the content. You’ll often find that you can use this story over and over–just make sure it’s relevant to your presentation and the audience!

This is sometimes called a “signature” story and public speakers use it a lot. If you haven’t written your signature story, use the guidelines here to get it done!

Evoke emotions with a story


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