Grand Opening: The Key To Great Presentations

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Whether you are speaking in front of a group or making a sales presentation, your opening can make or break the deal. Unless you grab the audience at the beginning, they’ll be sleeping through your most important information.

You must craft an opening that cannot be ignored. Great openings have three things in common:

– they grab the audience’s attention away from whatever else
they’re thinking

– they maintain the audience’s interest

– they are colorful, not black and white

So, you might be wondering how to create an opening that will do all those things. Here are our top three tips that will help you create your own grabber openings.


#1. Make a startling statement.

There is nothing like a statement that startles, either because it is so counterintuitive or so amazing, that it gets an audience to sit up and take notice. Here’s one Harry Hoover used in a talk about how to think like Leonardo da Vinci. “95 percent of what we know
about the brain we have learned in the past 20 years.” Now, that gets attention.


#2. Use a powerful quotation.

You can find quotes from famous and not-so-famous people that are applicable either to the speech topic itself, to the audience or best of all to both. For instance, if you were speaking at a political event on the subject of achievement, you might pull out this one from Rose Kennedy. “Superior achievement, or making the most of one’s capabilities, is to a very considerable degree a matter of habit.”


#3. Use historic events.

Historic events are very effective for openings. If you are giving a speech on perseverance on April 16th, see what happened on that day in history. For example: What do the mimeograph machine and the airplane have in common? Their inventors, A.B. Dick and Wilbur Wright were both born on April 16th, and they both toiled for years before their inventions were perfected.


Here are a few other ideas to pack the most punch with your grabber openings:

  • Ask a thought-provoking question
  • Tell a relevant joke or story
  • Give a potent example or illustration
  • Compliment the audience
  • Use a striking visual or auditory effect
  • Reference the specific occasion
  • Emphasize the importance of the topic and subject


Here’s a bonus tip for creating a grabber opening for a speech in a strange city. Research information on that city’s local history as well as more contemporary facts. It’s a great resource to help you connect with your audience.

Now, go grab your next audience!




If you’re serious about advancing your skills and making an investment in yourself, we invite you to our Excellence in Speaking Institute. Classes are back in person and filling up quickly so don’t delay! Visit this page to read feedback from our graduates about their experience.