A good introduction/opener

A good opener for a presentationA good introduction to the delivery of your presentation is extremely important. The first minute or so sets the stage for the rest of your talk.

You should start with an upbeat, positive mood. The first impression you make lasts. You want to quickly gain the attention, interest, and respect of your audience. Your first words should be lively, interesting, clear, and simple.

Start by expressing the fact that you’re glad to be there. A statement like, “I’m glad/excited/pleased/thrilled to be here” is almost obligatory. It invites the audience to be glad that they’re there, too. Your excitement is infectious and infuses the session with your energy.

Claudyne Wilder, in the July, 2007 issue of her newsletter, “Wilder’s Presentation Points,” said the following:

“A presenter who says, ‘I know you are busy people and have many things to do. Thank you for coming.’ only reminds everyone of all the things that they aren’t doing because they are sitting and listening. Distracting the audience before the presentation even begins is hardly a positive way to begin!”

Your introduction should answer the following

  • Who are you?
  • What is your topic?
  • Why is it important?

Who are you?

If you will be introduced, re-mention your name and re-affirm the most important fact about yourself that the audience will find meaningful, such as your experience with the topic. Otherwise, provide a slightly longer introduction, but just enough to let people know why they should listen to you.

What is your topic?

Give a brief explanation of your topic, just a little longer than the title of your talk. Don’t give away the secret of your talk, but whet their appetite.

Why is it important?

Finally, tell the audience why the topic is important to them. What will they have gained by the time the talk is finished? Don’t feel shy to promise that they’ll learn something useful; they really want to know that.

The entire opening should only take a minute or two. More than that, and it becomes boring because the audience will be impatient to hear the main content of your presentation.

Lori Giovannoni, in her e-book, So You Want to Be a Speaker, says, “Your intro should be well rehearsed, clear and filled with confidence. This is not the time to stammer and stutter and hope for the best. A poor intro will drop the energy in the room and you will spend the next half hour trying to recapture it.”

Here are some other ideas for openers:

  • Ask your audience a question and ask them to raise hands in reply. For example, “How many of you regularly give presentations to small audiences of 1 to 10 people?”
  • Begin with an interesting, relevant quote. Then use that quote to launch your talk. For example, “Author and columnist Earl Wilson said, ‘If you wouldn’t write it and sign it, don’t say it.’ This gives us a clue as to how you can gain believability from your audience.”
  • Mention something another speaker said, or a current event, that is related to your presentation.
  • Start with a short, relevant personal story or experience.

When you’ve written your introduction/opening, rewrite it and edit it until you like it. Then practice giving it out loud. Practice again. Time it. Record it and listen to it. Make adjustments and practice the new version. You should be able to speak it out without looking at your notes. When you’re done, you’ll have a great opener to your presentation!

73 comments to A good introduction/opener

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  • Esther Jeon

    I am 6th grade and I need to do the presentation about Bosnia and Herzegovina… And everyone knows my name because they all are my friends… I think it would be weird for me to introduce myself… What should I do to get people’s attention?
    Our teacher said that he is fairly disappointed about our introduction and conclusion… I would be thankful if you help me

  • Esther,
    You are right that you don’t need to introduce yourself in a classroom of your classmates. One way to get people’s attention would be to find some surprising fact about Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then you could start with, “Do you know that ….?” For example, you could ask your parents and parents of your friends where they are — show them a map. I bet that almost no one will be able to find them on the map. So you could start with, “Do you know that 90% of people don’t know where Bosnia and Herzegovina are?” Or you could also ask those adults what Herzegovina is. I bet most of them won’t even know it’s a country! So you could start with, “Do you know that 90% of people have never heard of Herzegovina and don’t even know it’s a place? How would you feel if you lived in a place that so many people had never heard of?” This will get their attention! Good luck on your presentation!

  • Ajeetha

    Hi,i am a 3rd year B.E student.I have to do the presentation about Global Wireless e-Voting.can you please help me, how to start my presentation and how to gain the attention of my audience?

  • thiara

    hi i am a sophmore , and me and two other ppl r presenting a powerpoint on pandora (a godess) my teacher explained that “we should do an interesting introduction not just say,” my name is…this is a powerpoint on pandora” im not sure how my intro should be. help?

  • What is an interesting or surprising fact about Pandora? Start with that. For example, “Did you know that Pandora was the first mortal woman?”

  • thiara

    “The first mortal women on earth, the releaser of disease,death and sorrow..pandora” sounds good? (:

  • thiara

    and i do have stage fright, teachers have even deducted points off because i start out talking strong but i get real shacky and shy and my voice fades, ive been dealing with this for awhile, any recomdations? (thank you so much for your help)

  • Practice more. Videotape yourself and watch the videotape. Practice on your friends. Take a deep breath between sections–it’s good to pause! Don’t be too formal, be more conversational.

    Yes, good start.

  • Ishika Arora

    hye..i m a 9th standard student,and i want to give an introduction…on the topic lokpal bill.so would you please tell me..how to began my presentation…

  • Ishika, I don’t recognize that name, “lokpal bill.” Is it a person? If so, perhaps you can start with a surprising fact. Good luck!

  • chantal

    Hi I am a 6th grader and I am doing a presentation on Justin Bieber and I dont know how to start it. Can you please help me?

  • Find some strange or funny fact about him and start, “Did you know that ….? That will get your audience interested. Maybe find a funny photo, too. Good luck!

  • Mike

    Hello. I am an international researcher at a University and I am supposed to present my project in an international competition in from of a panel of internation judges. How do I introduce myself before I go to the main topic of my presentation? like who I am, where I am from, what do i do? Is it possible to provide me with a sentence? Thank you.

  • There won’t be any introduction for you at all? Not even your name? There won’t be a printed item with the list of presenters? If not, or even if there is, I would work it into the beginning of the presentation rather than a sentence before your topic. Is the competition based on the research — who did the best research?

    You could simply put your name and university on the title slide under the name of your presentation/research. You don’t need to say anything. Focus on the research. But, if you want to tell a story about how you came to choose this research, that would be interesting and you could incorporate a little about yourself there.

  • Mike

    Thank you. I will be starting with a story. I had an one on one coaching recently regarding this competition and I had my name and university on my slide just below my topic. After the presentation, one of the judge mentioned that I did not properly introduce myself, like my background, where I am from and so on. The reason was because I have a french accent, and the judge was wondering where I was from an so on.

  • Hi , I am doing a presentation about paper lantern and I don’t know how to start it. Can you please help me?

  • I’m not sure what you could say about paper lanterns, but perhaps start with a question to the audience, asking them what they use them for. Do something to engage the audience. Good luck!

  • tanushree

    i have to give a presentation on my internship.. how do i introduce & start my presentation to have a powerful impact on my examiner???

  • It’s hard to say, since I don’t know what your internship is about. Perhaps find a famous, philosophical quote and relate it to your internship to show you’ve thought deeply about its implications. Perhaps show a diagram placing the company where you worked in the context of the whole world, so they can see that you appreciate the larger impact of what they’re doing. Perhaps use a diagram showing the skills you learned and how they’ll apply to your professional life. Then go on and elaborate. Good luck!

  • Rose

    Hi,
    I am a first year business student and me an my group need to do a presentation about the new venture we created. What would be a good introduction and how can we make our presentation interesting and engaging?

    Thank you.

  • Rose, have you ever watched Shark Tank on TV? I’d recommend it, because the presentations are always engaging. They demo their product, wear costumes, etc.
    Aside from that, start by talking about the problem that your venture solves and relate it to the audience. “Have you ever experienced that….? Wasn’t it frustrating? How great would it be if….? Good luck!

  • Jemma Sherman

    Hi, i am doing a degree in early years and i have to do a 10 minute power point presentation on language and language theory in the early years. I am a little unsure how to start it because the group i am doing it in front of 5 people who already know my name and my job role?? also the presentation is all about how i promote language theory in my nursery setting so i am a little unsure about how to start it really.

    thanks for reading

  • Tell a short story, ask a question, say a surprising fact, say something that’s different from usual. For example, you could start, “In this program, I’ve learned a lot of theory about language, but when I had an opportunity to use it in a nursery setting, I discovered some valuable approaches.”

  • maria

    hi, i am a student of pharmacy, and i have been given a topic of function of auxin(a phytohormone). can u please help me, that how would i start my topic and introduce myself in front of my classmates, as i’ll be the 3rd member in my group presentation of total 5 members. thanks,

  • Since I have NO idea what that is, it’s hard to give you an answer. Why is it important or interesting? Any stories about what happens when it doesn’t function properly?

  • michaela

    Hi. I have to do a presentation over a lab that I did-oil spill cleanup. I’m not sure how to start. Could you give me some pointers, please? Thanks.

  • malak

    Hi ,
    I am a student in the high school , I am going to give a presentation next week about positive thinking , I wonder how to start my presentation especially that I am with 3 friends in it !

  • Tell a horror story about an oil spill cleanup or just silently show some photos of birds covered with oil. Something striking.

  • Felicia

    I have to do a power point presentation in my class. How should I introduce my self – I am also doing business proposal

  • Unless your teacher expects you to introduce yourself, you don’t need to, since everyone in the class knows you, right? If it’s a huge class, that might be a different story. You could intertwine something about yourself into the business proposal — something about you that led you to decide that this proposal was the right thing.

  • Samir

    Hello, Going through your previous replies, i must say you have done a wonderful job sharing your views and responding to each queries. I have one too :)
    I am close to recruitment in a university as a lecturer, and before the official joining, the faculty head asked me to present a favorite topic of mine in front of the rest of the faculty members. I decided to present my Master’s thesis, but how would I introduce myself in front of my future co-workers? And what other details (apart from education details) would be relevant in the introduction slide?

  • Samir, Congratulations on your new job! I don’t think you want to put more than your education details on the first slide, but I think you want to say something verbally. You could introduce the topic of your Master’s thesis by saying something about how your background led you to this topic — so I’d add something personal because your future co-workers also want to get to know you as a person — but as a professional person. So don’t make it TOO personal.

  • lucy

    i am a first year student and have been asked to make a presentation on myself, introducing myself to my new class mates and i have no clue where and how to start

  • Think of something unusual or especially interesting about you or your background or your goals and start with that. Then go on to the rest. Good luck!

  • bianca

    i’m presenting a powerpoint presentation in front of my classmate together with my groupmates, I just like to have some tips on how to start my topic about recommendation report.?

  • maria samour

    Hi there, I am a grade 9 student and I have been assigned to do a presentation on the book ‘hatchet, by Gary Paulsen’. I am not too sure about what would be a good introduction to it, keeping everyone interested and involved.
    your help would be great,
    Please and Thank you

  • Since I know nothing about the book, it’s hard to say. Is there a surprising fact that you can find about the author if you do some research? Perhaps you can find a review of the book to find some background information. Did the book have an impact on you that your classmates wouldn’t expect? If the other students haven’t read it, is there a reason you think they should? How might it change their life?
    Good luck!

  • Jumana

    Hello,

    Im having a presentation about online shopping and I need help with my intruduction. Would you help me please?
    Thanks in advance!

  • priya muruganantham

    Hai,this page is useful to us.I am doing my 3′rd year B.E.(EEE).i am going to present a paper on power electronics and drives.will u pls help me ? in wt way i have to introduce myself and impress my audience to my topic?

  • Hi Ellen. Judging by the number of comments and hits on this post, it’s a topic on many speakers’ minds! As you say, when speaking, your 1st impression lasts.

    I agree with many of your points, like the importance of whetting people’s appetites, and saying what they’ll gain.

    (To me though, saying “I’m glad to be here” seems a bit trite, and the audience doesn’t care (much) how you feel. They’re absorbed by their own needs and reason for attending, especially at the start.)

    As you say in your post’s last bullet, you can also use a short, relevant story. I really like those, as they can be one of the best ways to connect with your audience.

    Here’s a handy video by Patricia Fripp (professional speaker). It goes straight to 5 different examples that could be very handy. By all means, let me know which of those you like.

    Thanks for all the tips and discussion here, Ellen!

  • Hi, I recently join a company, and they told me to do a presentation on SDLC(Software Development Life Cycle. The problem is I don’t know how to introduce myself before the topic begin..

  • If everyone there knows you, you don’t have to introduce yourself. If they don’t, I suggest that you ask someone else to introduce you and say why you were chosen to do the presentation.

  • karim

    hello
    thank you for every thing you do.
    what i need to ask about is i’ll do a presentation of my self as a final test to get a job with the company(oil and gas company) what steps shoud i fallow to present my self as well.

  • Think about what the employer needs. Rather than talking about yourself, talk about how you can contribute to the success of the company. Do some research on the issues and future direction of the company and address that. Finally, be sure not to use slide after slide of bulleted text. Instead, make the presentation as visual as possible and practice giving it so you know what to say without reading the slides. Good luck!

  • Nichola

    I am doing a presentation on Emigration to Canada during the Famine. I am giving the talk in front of class mates and don’t want to introduce the presentation by saying ‘Hi my name is’. Can you give me any advice with regards to coming up with an interesting introduction. Much appreciated.

  • Nichola, I think your instincts are right. I’d just dive right in with a surprising or shocking fact or statistic about the emigration or the famine to bring home the emotional impact the situation had on the people involved. Are ask the audience a question. “What would you do if you had no food and your children were starving?” Good luck with the presentation!

  • Khalid Alqaseer

    Hi.. Good morning

    I am doing a presentation on indian civilisation, can you please help with in how can i start my introduction and how to get the attention of the people listing ?

  • As I’ve mentioned in other comments, start with a surprising fact. Perhaps something like, “Did you know that Indian civilization ….?”

  • Arnolde Lorng

    Hello, I have a presentation on American Conservative Union, and I don’t know how should I introduce the topic?
    What am I asking you is the introduction of this topic. Thank you

  • Iqra

    I have final research presentation for completion of my degree in BS biotechnology. I am thinking how to start my presentation in a most memorable way as it has to be really formal and I wont be allowed to show pictures or tell a story or anything to get attention.

  • Even in a formal, academic presentation, you can talk about wh6y biotechnology is important. And you CAN tell a story. The story might be of a researcher who was the father of the field, or who made an important discovery in it that you found inspiring. In the end, you can say that you hope to follow in his or her footsteps. You can talk about the possibilities for the future. All of these things are academic and serious and in fact they are what inspire scientists, so they are appropriate.
    Good luck!

  • Michael Boss

    Hi Ellen, you deserve a hearty “Thank U!” for the help U have already given me with this introductory page to your site. (Suddenly I’m unable to type a Capital “y”, so please excuse any typos.)
    I was typing a “Reply” to a devotional, copied it to Office Word and wanted to know how to put in an “My emphasis” to a portion of a Biblical quote. I put this in a parenthesis, but the grammar-check said it was improper. So I asked for “Help” and your site was suggested. I connected, saw NOTHING regarding that topic, BUT THEN saw various other items of interest, most especially on “presentations skills” and FREE “public domain pictures and images.” These are for “PowerPoint,” which I’ve never used (yet). Hopefully these pics and images can be used in “Word” and other word-processing programs. (I’m a slow learner. It is doubtful I’ll try learning “PowerPoint” (though I have it) because I am also retired and physically-challenged. I am giving considerable thought to giving a presentation or two here at the retirement-apartment building where I live. The motivation is to get the many self-elected cloistered residents out of their apartments to participate in some stimulating activities. Others have tried with little success. I have made it a goal. With Gods’ help, and from experts like yourself, this goal will be realized.
    In my early 20′s, I was a radio announcer. Later, while in college-seminary, I took training in speech-making and giving, as well as some TV broadcasting training (mostly course-work only). I gave a few presentations while an intern in a parish in Chicago, and have preached a few times (though not as effectively as I would have liked).
    Therefore I feel qualified to give presentations which might stir up these people. But I could use some pointers.
    Reading this “PowerPoint Tips Blog,” and your responses within it, it is easy to see that you could be, very well, a KEY person to provide these “pointers”. Will you? Your help will be greatly appreciated by me, and could be one of the instruments used to motivate my neighbors to a “better,” more active lifestyle. All of us need help, just in different ways. Please help me become a better motivational presenter. Your help just might help one person have a “happier,” more productive life. Too many people here, and elsewhere surely, are “wasting” their lives away but sitting alone in their apartment/homes just watching mind-numbing TV. (TV is a good thing. But it is also a means by which too many people avoid “living.”

    Michael

  • I could not resist commenting.Perfectly written!

  • Jamila

    Hi, kindly please help me as I’m doing a presentation the topic is about reservation brand standards audit as I’m working as a reservation sales agent. How would I start with the conversation? Looking forward for your reply.

  • Jamila, I have no idea what “reservation brand standards audit” means, but perhaps your audience won’t either. So start by explaining why they need to know about that topic, why it’s important to them. You could start with something like, “Did you know that….?” Good luck!

  • ruhaira nizam

    Hii..i am 11 grade student.. my presentation is about smoking . I dont know how to begin it with a good intro. So pleas can you help me ?

  • Start with a shocking fact. There are lots of them in the area of smoking. “Did you know that….?”

  • alok shukla

    dear sir … i have giving a techanical ppt ..so plz say me how to start ppt …in plant

  • Lina

    Hey, next Monday I’m going to have a presentation about the United Kingdom, I’m going to talk about United Kingdom: tourists attractions, what it’s famous for, the famous food, the popular sports, festivals and the cities in there, but I don’t know how’s the introduction’s going to be, so can u please help me with the introduction and please reply it soon.. And by the way I’m in the first year of senior high school.

  • Lina, you seem to have lots of material, so just pick one fact that’s especially surprising or interesting and start with, “Did you know that…?” that will get your audience interested. Then you can say something like, “In this presentation I’ll tell you more about this as well as other interesting information about the United Kingdom, so come join me for a virtual journey.” Would that work?

  • Lina

    That would work, thank you so much:) , I’ll tell you how it goes on monday after the presentation..

  • Lina

    It went really well, thanks again miss

  • sreya

    hi m final year student of class B.E Civil. Ii do my project on pervious pavement concerete. we are 4 member in our group. I want to know that haw to start our presentation n what r final words of speech

  • I guess I’d start with some “do you know?” questions that are about the problems of regular concrete pavement — that sets up the point that there’s a problem.
    At the end, I’d summarize how pervious pavement solves those problems.

  • Danish

    Hello Ma’am, I’m Third year Bsc Math Student.I’ve to give a ppt presentation on The topic called ‘Fractals’ . I’m totally confused about it since I’d never given ppt presentation before. Show plz can you help me so that I will give a good ppt……
    Tell me how to start ,how to take interest of audience towards the topic and how to end it. Plz Ma’am reply me soon bcz I’ve to present it On this 8th Sept .

  • Lina

    Miss, can you help me with the introduction again?.. In this presentation I’m going to talk about the ottoman empire.. Pleasee reply it soon.. Thank you

  • Lina

    Miss, please reply it sooner, cuz the presentation is on monday.. My presentation is about ottoman empire.. I don’t know how the introduction should be like.. Pleasee reply it today

  • Lina,
    Look at my other responses and adapt it to your presentation. You’ll be able to figure it out! Good luck!

  • Apurva

    hey I m 10th standard student and want to give presentation on topic Goal of my life…so please suggest me some slides related….and my goal is software eng..

  • priyadharshini

    hi, i am doing my PG ,i have to do presentation on accidents- road,rail,air and marine. but i don’t get any interesting thing to start with…can you help me with that please.

  • jyoti

    maa’m i m pursuing C.A and i have to give a presentation in national level competition my topic is “exam” three crucial hours of life so can u help me with the introduction part i mean i want to start in a very intresting way….pls reply

  • M.BLAL

    hei, this is M.BILAL GHAFFAR. I have to give presentation day after tomorrow about “THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY” so how can I introduce myself onto the stage in front of my classmates and respected teachers?

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