· Presentation openings

Level 1 – The Organized Opening
If you’re a beginner or very nervous, demonstrate that you’re prepared and organized. This will reassure your audience that your presentation is not going to be a waste of time. Here’s a formula you can use – answer the three questions your audience will have in their minds:
  • 1. What’s the topic of your presentation?
  • Give a one-sentence overview of what you’re talking about.
  • 2. Why should your audience be interested?
  • What’s in it for them? Give them a reason to listen.
  • 3. Why are you talking about it?
  • What are your qualifications or experience which give you the credibility to be talking about it.
People in your audience will sense that you’ve carefully planned your talk (which will give them a sense of relief that it’s not going to be a disorganised ramble), and they’ll be receptive to what you’re going to cover.

Level 2 – The Story Opening
Once you’ve got the Organized Opening mastered, step up to the Story Opening.
Telling a story is, for most people, the easiest of the more advanced opening techniques. Opening with a story helps you to be conversational and establish rapport with your audience. Stories allow you to:
  • subtly establish your credibility without bragging
  • add humour with some funny lines – but if nobody laughs it's not a disaster because it’s just part of the story
  • gently raise controversial issues.
In fact, stories are such effective openings that there is no need to ever move onto anything else. You can keep using stories as your opening throughout your presenting career.
Don’t start planning your presentation by trying to think of a great story to start your presentation. That’s hard. Instead plan the rest of your presentation – which will (of course) include stories to back up your points. Then have a look at what you’ve prepared and see if there’s a story that could be used for your opening.

Level 3 – The Dramatic Opening
So you’re ready to experiment a little. There are a number of dramatic openings which are commonly recommended. Here’s my take on them:
1. Use a quote
A quote is just using someone’s else words rather than your own. They happen to have made the point you want to make in a particularly pity or evocative way. Although I think quotes can be useful at times in a presentation, I don’t think they make the best openings for three reasons:
  1. They’re often long and so you need to read it
  2. They use written language so can be difficult to grasp quickly
  3. They set you up to perform rather than connect.
2. Ask a question
This seems like a good idea. Steve Roesler says:
  • Opening with a question creates curiosity and jump-starts the thought process. Thinking causes engagement with your topic – exactly what you and the audience are hoping for.
I think using your very first words to ask a question is risky. Your audience is not always ready to think. They want to check you out first. I believe in building rapport with the audience before you ask them to think (you may be able to do this within 1-2 minutes). Click here for more on asking questions in your presentation. So use with care.
3. Refer to a shocking statistic
The best way I’ve seen this done was by a speaker from New Zealand’s Child Support Agency. She had a number of figures written up on the whiteboard and then told us what they represented. I can still remember the Number 11. It was the age of the youngest boy to be paying child support! This works.
4. Ask the audience to imagine themselves in a situation
For example, you might start a talk on “Building relationships at work” by asking “Remember back to your first day at this company. When no-one’s face was familiar…when you constantly had to ask where something was or who to talk to before you could get anything done…”
Bert Decker recently recounted on his blog how he doesn’t just get the audience to imagine a situation – he actually recreates it for them:
  • Usually I will start my presentation by doing the absolutely wrong thing – reading a speech. I walk out on stage with what looks like a written text, plop it on the lectern, grab on to the sides, look down and begin reading in a monotone. And here is a supposed speech expert who is immediately boring with monotone voice and no eye contact – bad! For only about 30 seconds though, as the energy plummets so quickly I then raise my voice, step out behind the lectern, look at people with good eye contact and rip up the speech. Usually I get a round of applause, as people are so relieved to get a speaker, not a reader.
So choose your dramatic opening with care. Ensure it enables you to connect with your audience as well as provide drama.
What’s your experience with using different types of openings for your presentation?

(Taken from: http://www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/presentation-openings-levels/)

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Great opening and closings

· Making a presentation: language and phrases

This is a list of phrases to help you make a professional presentation in English.
Good presenters always use language (sometimes single words, sometimes phrases) which shows where they are in their presentation. These ‘signposts’ make it easier for the audience to:
  • follow the structure of the presentation
  • understand the speaker more easily
  • get an idea of the length and content of the presentation.
The sentences and phrases below follow the logical progression of a well-balanced presentation.

  • Good morning and welcome to [name of company, name of conference hall, hotel, etc.].
  • Thank you all very much for coming today.
  • I hope you all had a pleasant journey here today.

Introducing yourself:
  • My name is Mark Watson and I am responsible for … .
  • My name is Mark Watson from [name of company], where I am responsible for … .
  • Let me introduce myself; my name is Mark Watson and I am responsible for … .

Introducing your presentation:
  • The purpose of today’s presentation is to … .
  • The purpose of my presentation today is to … .
  • In today’s presentation I’d like to … show you … . / explain to you how … .
  • In today’s presentation I’m hoping to … give you an update on… . / give you an overview of … .
  • In today’s presentation I’m planning to … look at … . / explain … .

You can also outline your presentation to give the audience a clear overview of what they can expect:
  • In today’s presentation I’m hoping to cover three points:
  • firstly, … , after that we will look at … , and finally I’ll … .
  • In today’s presentation I’d like to cover three points:
  • firstly, … , secondly … , and finally … .

Explaining that there will be time for questions at the end:
  • If you have any questions you’d like to ask, please leave them until the end, when I’ll be happy to answer them.
  • If there are any questions you’d like to ask, please leave them until the end, when I’ll do my best to answer them.

Starting the presentation:
  • To begin with … .
  • To start with … .
  • Let’s start by looking at … .
  • Let’s start by looking at … .
  • I’d like to start by looking at … .
  • Let’s start with / start by looking at … .

Closing a section of the presentation:
  • So, that concludes [title of the section] … .
  • So, that’s an overview of … .
  • I think that just about covers … .

Beginning a new section of the presentation:
(Remember that what you are saying is new to your audience. You are clear about the structure of your talk, but let your audience know when you are moving on to a new point. You can do this by saying something like "right", or "OK". You can also use some of the following expressions:)
  • Now, let’s move on to … .
  • Now, let’s take a look at … .
  • Now I’d like to move on to … .
  • Next I’d like to take a look at … .
  • Moving on to the next part, I’d like to … .
  • Moving on to the next section, let’s take a look at … .

The main body of the presentation:
(During your presentation, it’s a good idea to remind your audience occasionally of the benefit of what you are saying.)
"As I said at the beginning…"
"This, of course, will help you (to achieve the 20% increase)."
"As you remember, we are concerned with…"
"This ties in with my original statement…"
"This relates directly to the question I put to you before…"

Language for using visuals:
(It's important to introduce your visual to the audience. You can use the following phrases:)
"This graph shows you…"
"Take a look at this…"
"If you look at this, you will see…"
"I'd like you to look at this…"
"This chart illustrates the figures…"
"This graph gives you a break down of…"
Give your audience enough time to absorb the information on the visual. Pause to allow them to look at the information and then explain why the visual is important:
"As you can see…"
"This clearly shows …"
"From this, we can understand how / why…"
"This area of the chart is interesting…"

Concluding and summarising the presentation
(At the end of your presentation, you should summarise your talk and remind the audience of what you have told them:)
  • Well, that brings us to the end of the final section. Now, I’d like to summarise by … .
  • That brings us to the end of the final section. Now, if I can just summarise the main points again.
  • That concludes my presentation. Now, if I can just summarise the main points.
  • That’s an overview of … . Now, just to summarise, let’s quickly look at the main points again.

Finishing and thanking:
  • Thank you for your attention.
  • That brings the presentation to an end.
  • That brings us to the end of my presentation.
  • Finally, I’d like to finish by thanking you (all) for your attention.
  • Finally, I’d like to end by thanking you (all) for coming today.
  • I’d like to thank you (all) for your attention and interest.

Inviting questions:
(Thank the audience for their attention and invite questions:)
  • If anyone has any questions, I’ll be pleased to answer them.
  • If anyone has any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.
  • If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them now.
  • If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them and I’ll do my best to answer.

(It’s useful to re-word the question, as you can check that you have understood the question and you can give yourself some time to think of an answer. By asking the question again you also make sure that other people in the audience understand the question.)
"Thank you. So you would like further clarification on our strategy?"
"That's an interesting question. How are we going to get voluntary redundancy?"
"Thank you for asking. What is our plan for next year?"

(After you have answered your question, check that the person who asked you is happy with the answer.)
"Does this answer your question?"
"Do you follow what I am saying?"
"I hope this explains the situation for you."
"I hope this was what you wanted to hear!"

Referring to a previous point made:
  • As I mentioned earlier … .
  • As we saw earlier … .
  • You may recall that we said … .
  • You may recall that I explained … .

Dealing with (difficult) questions:
  • I’ll come back to that question later if I may.
  • I’ll / We’ll come back to that question later in my presentation.
  • I’ll / We’ll look at that point in more detail later on.
  • Perhaps we can look at that point at the end / a little later.

(If you don't know the answer to a question, say you don't know. It's better to admit to not knowing something than to guess and maybe get it wrong. You can say something like:)
"That's an interesting question. I don't actually know off the top of my head, but I'll try to get back to you later with an answer."
"I'm afraid I'm unable to answer that at the moment. Perhaps I can get back to you later."
"Good question. I really don't know! What do you think?"
"That's a very good question. However, we don't have any figures on that, so I can't give you an accurate answer."
"Unfortunately, I'm not the best person to answer that."

What can you say if things go wrong?
(You think you've lost your audience? Rephrase what you have said:)
"Let me just say that in another way."
"Perhaps I can rephrase that."
"Put another way, this means…"
"What I mean to say is…"
Can't remember the word?
If it's a difficult word for you – one that you often forget, or one that you have difficulty pronouncing – you should write it on your index card. Pause briefly, look down at your index card and say the word.

Using your voice
Don't speak in a flat monotone – this will bore your audience. By varying your speed and tone, you will be able to keep your audience's attention. Practise emphasising key words and pause in the right places – usually in between ideas in a sentence. For example "The first strategy involves getting to know our market (pause) and finding out what they want. (pause) Customer surveys (pause) as well as staff training (pause) will help us do this."

Don't forget – if you speak too fast you will lose your audience!

Other phrases and key presentation language:
[word, phrase]

[meaning, function]


‘very quickly’
take a look at

‘look at’
take a brief look at

‘quickly look at’
return to

‘go back’, ‘explain again’
I’ll outline

‘I will explain’
here we can see

to draw attention to a specific point on a slide
as you can see here

to draw attention to a specific point on a slide
(let’s) move on to

to start a new subject
(let’s) continue with

to start a new subject
(let’s) continue by looking at

to start a new subject
to illustrate this point

when giving an example
let’s, we can, we will

using ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of ‘I’ connects you to your audience

Taken from: http://speakspeak.com/resources/general-english-vocabulary/presentation-language-phrases

The 4 best presentations ever - what makes these so special?
(Info taken from: http://www.powtoon.com/presentation/5-best-presentations/)

1. Steve Jobs

When you search online for great presenters, the late Steve Jobs appears in almost every search. His talents reached far beyond developing groundbreaking products; he knew how to create visually appealing, non-traditional presentations.

As he introduces the new iPhone, he explains one idea at a time without using boring bullet points. He then uses a strong visual to sum up his three key points — a master presenter, no doubt.

Jobs’ style is magical, it’s about leading the crowd to see what he will unveil next, what is the next big exciting toy that we can become obsessed with, what magical features will he discuss that are revolutionary and cutting edge. We wait to see what he will uncover. We wait with baited breath.

What can we learn from Steve Jobs’ style?
  • No bullet points
  • Minimal use of text
  • Effective visuals
  • Strong Storytelling capability
  • Animated tone, created build up to his main points

2. Amy Tan

Author Amy Tan has an interesting unique storytelling style that creates intrigue. Her use of text as visuals interweave with relevant images. She creates contrast with red and white type against a black background, which draws us into her ideas and to the level of importance that she is trying to emphasize. Her presentation discusses the barriers to creativity, and her mages reflect this confusion. Her goal is not to bring answers to her audience, but to make us think, to pose questions as she discusses her personal challenges with becoming more creative.

With Amy Tan, we enjoy her journey, her story, her questions, the possibilities, and the relevance in our lives.

What can we learn from Amy Tan’s style?
  • No bullet points
  • Effective use of text
  • Powerful visuals
  • Strong Storytelling capability
  • Humor

3. Malcolm Gladwell

Talking without slides, photos, text, props, just relying on strong storytelling skills is Malcolm Gladwell's style. He incorporates humor throughout as he paints a descriptive picture. Without the use of bullet points or graphs, he illustrates some key elements about marketing and innovating, while he simplifies concepts in his out-of-the-box approach.

His colorful description replaces the need for images. His clarity replaces the need for boring, convoluted graphs and bullet points. He chooses to keep his presentation personal, as though we are out in a social setting with him and he is sharing an interesting story. This effective approach requires many, many interesting details, anecdotes, and facts, which is not lacking in his presentation.

What can we learn from Malcolm Gladwell’s style?
  • Strong Storytelling capability
  • Humor
  • Animated tone, facial expressions and hand gestures

4. Susan Cain

Susan Cain demonstrates the same storytelling talent as Malcolm Gladwell. She uses strong anecdotal recollections so descriptive that we can fully relate to her comparisons between introverts and extroverts. Although she chooses not to use visuals, she does use one prop. This one prop, a closed bag, sits by her side throughout her entire presentation. Does she ever open it? What’s inside?

She has the ability to remain animated and interesting, as she takes a personal approach and shares her views and funny stories about her life as an introvert.

What can we learn from Susan Cain’s style?
  • Strong Storytelling capability
  • Humor
  • Prop placement to create intrigue
  • Animated tone, facial expressions and hand gestures

Let's analyze our 4 presenters techniques

Steve Jobs
Amy Tan
Malcom Gladwell
Susan Cain
Best Presentations
Best Presentations
Best Presentations
Best Presentations


Animated Tone and expressions





Bullet Points

All of the presenters that we analyzed made sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that they had compelling stories to share. This is worth noting as the most important part of a presentation. And in telling their amazing stories, they also understood that avoiding bullet points at all costs was so critical in preventing the disconnection and fragmentation of their messages.

Quick pointers to remember for great presentations
  • Strive for one idea per slide
  • Use minimal text
  • Avoid bullet points
  • Focus on telling a great story that will keep your audience hooked
  • Remain animated and enthusiastic
  • Use props to support your story

· Obama's speech

The speech that made Obama president

María Ángeles A.