The 13 most successful presentation hook ideas ever
Wouldn’t it be great if every single person who attends your presentation gets excited at your speech and stays tuned until the end, focusing on you the entire time? I think we both know the answer to that question. The problem is that we always lack presentation hook ideas to start the presentation.
If you want to catch the attention of your audience, however, you must really hook your audience from the very beginning.
Did you know that you normally lose 90% of your audience within the first 5 minutes of your presentation? If you get 60 minutes to present, you do not get 60 minutes worth of attention. In fact, the typical attention span in an hour-long meeting goes something like this (Source: Sequoia Capital):
Your hook is often the difference between a successful presentation and a very boring one. Think about it. If you don’t grab your audience right away, you’ll lose them forever.
You went through all that work of preparing a killer presentation, right? You worked hard at it. You did a ton of research and you spent a lot of time carefully taking care of every single slide.
However, the truth is that if your introduction sucks, your efforts will be for nothing. Well done, my friend, you lost before you even got started! If you want to spread your presentation hook ideas so that they resonate with your audience, you need to conquer them from the very first moment you talk to them. How to hook the audience?
Let me show you how.
If you Google the topic “Presentation hook ideas”, you’ll find plenty of public speakers and pitch experts who will give you their top 5, top 10, top (x) advice points on how to create the perfect hook persuading the audience. I have identified commonalities and summarized the most impactful, shared and successful presentation hook ideas coming from the top experts below and I’ve enriched them with real life dedicated examples. Below you’ll find a long list of presentation hook ideas with a whole bunch of ready to use examples to use.
Presentation hook ideas-Pre-hook: interact with the speakers first
When you speak at a conference, it’s very rare that you are alone. There might be other speakers like you, and you might not be the first one to talk. I like not being the first speaker, as this allows me to listen to the others carefully and improve on my own presentation.
If somebody speaks before you, it’s always a good strategy to connect your intervention to their speech. Every time I’m invited to give a speech at a conference, I always request to join from the beginning, even though I’m not the first speaker. By doing so, I can listen to the other speakers, take notes and prepare my hook.
By connecting your intervention to the others, you show respect to the other speakers and you demonstrate that you have been an active listener while you were in the audience; you’ll give a good example on how you expect your audience to behave during a speech.
Moreover, you create a connection that contextualizes your intervention into the flow of the conference and you turn the separated speeches into a dialogue that you trigger by commenting on the other speeches. By creating a dialogue atmosphere, the audience will wake up from the previous speech and connect with you.
Now you are ready for your hook!
Presentation hook ideas- Craft the perfect hook: conquer your audience with the following presentation hook ideas
Let’s take a look at the top 13 presentation hook ideas you can use to start your presentation and focus your audience’s attention on your message:
Starting with a story is one of the oldest and most powerful methods of introducing your presentation. Storytelling is a good hook for a speech because it shows you are human and shows you have feelings, emotions and reason. It is even more powerful if you start with a personal story. The audience will feel close to you and will trust you. If you earn their trust, you’ll get their attention.
Normally when you start talking, people are tired from the other speeches, and their attention level is not ready for your core message or your call to action. You will need to start slowly and take them in gradually. A story is common to everybody, and it’s easy to follow.
In most cases, it’s very effective to start with a story. You don’t really need to introduce yourself at the beginning. Your introduction can be postponed to when the audience will be really listening to you. If you start telling them why you’re good, you’ll immediately build distance from the audience, you won’t be perceived as one of them, so it will be harder for the audience to connect with you.
Psychologist Shawn Achor explains that the happy secret to better work starts straight away with a funny personal story about his childhood and keeps going until 2 minutes fifty, until the audience sympathizes with him, and so gives the audience his message. Shawn shoots the message when he is sure that he has 100% of the audience’s attention, not before. He only gives information about his prestigious background (“When I applied to Harvard […]”) at 6:32, after he has passed the core message. Still, he feels normal and empathetic to the audience when he shares the feeling of being an average guy surrounded by smarter guys, in such a great university. Therefore, he makes sure that his background does not bring him away from the audience.
Making the slides for this kind of hook will be very easy because all they need to do is help the audience visualize the story. Therefore, all you need is just a sequence of beautiful full-screen pictures. If you are telling them a personal story, show personal pictures. This will make them feel how real your story is, and it will catch their attention.
Learn more about how storytelling applies to presentations: Forget slides, tell stories.
I want to show you a trick for perfect presentation hook examples. If you do not want to tell a personal story or you do not have one, I’d suggest you invent one! After all, we have plenty of pictures on our social media channels we can leverage to invent an ad hoc story. The most important thing is that your story appears real, because if the audience thinks you are tricking them, they won’t trust you and you’ll lose any chance to connect with them.
If you have no creativity, you could even take inspiration from websites that offer stories by keywords like BusinessBalls. In BusinessBalls, for example, stories are characterized by keywords:
2. Questions and audience interaction
One of the most common errors that presenters commit nowadays is thinking they are one step above the audience, just because they came to present. We are in the era of “listening” today, more than ever before, with the advent of social media. If we want to be listened to, first we need to listen. Presentations aren’t an exception. If you want to give a successful presentation, first you need to build a one-on-one relationship with your audience and start a dialogue. What’s better for engagement than asking questions to your audience from the beginning of your presentation?
Questions turn on people’s curiosity. Their brains will begin figuring out the answer. If they know the answer, they want to know if their answer is correct. If they do not know the answer, they might get involved and focus on the speaker in order to get the answer. In any case, answering a question works like a reward, because people feel satisfied by the fact that they canceled one more doubt. People’s curiosity will make them focus on you to find the answer.
When you ask question, you pair up with your audience as they feel like they’re in your position, and they want to help you answer the question. If you are perceived as one of them, you’ve won their trust and therefore their attention.
There are several kind of questions you might want to ask as good hook for a speech:
These questions help you interact with the audience. Having just simple answers, all you need to do is to ask people in a sequence to vote for “Yes” by raising their hands and then you can ask people to vote for “No” to do the same.
You can adopt this technique every time you have a multiple choice question, so the audience can vote for a single option by raising their hands.
You could ask how they’re affected by the problem you’re going to solve during your presentation.
- “How many of you get so frustrated with PowerPoint when it crushes?”
- “Raise your hand if you’ve fallen asleep during a presentation.”
- “Who struggles every time you need to choose colors for your next presentation?”
This is a good technique to use for checking the audience responsiveness. When you ask a Y/N question, people naturally answer loudly, so you’ll immediately know if most of them are still awake.
Using open-ended questions, you expect the audience to develop an answer. This is the typical situation of a Q&A session. However, this technique enables you to open a real discussion with members of the audience. However, people may answer what they feel without a filter, so they can impede you if you are uncomfortable with their answer.
This is an incredibly powerful technique for creating presentation hook ideas, but at the same time, you risk getting controversial opinions by freeing people to develop their discourse.
Also, be sure that everybody can be heard when talking from the audience, because they’re not standing in front of everybody with a microphone. Sometimes you have a hostesses who may bring the microphone to people for them to answer, but this depends on the size of the event. You’ll be in charge of picking somebody from the audience to answer.
A good practice is to repeat the answer to the audience in order to make sure everybody heard it. By doing so, you’ll give them the feeling of being part of the dialogue and you will show that you are careful to keep everybody in the loop.
Rhetorical refers to those questions asked by a speaker who does not expect to receive an answer. Even though you know you don’t want an answer, the audience does not know if it’s a rhetorical question. Their brains will be automatically triggered to elaborate an answer. Just by doing so, you’ll turn on their brains and you’ll catch their attention.
In order to maximize the effect of rhetorical questions, I recommend you to pause just after you ask. People will be forced to think of an answer. If you talk too quickly and you skip immediately to the answer, they won’t have the time to think about the answer.
If you show you are thinking fo the answer in real time, this will help you to make the audience feel close to you. They’ll feel involved and they’ll try helping with their answers. This already means that they are interacting with you, so you’ll have their attention.
Finally, if you choose this technique to open your presentation, I’d recommend you select the right number of questions based on their form. You do not want to open a full debate during your hook. If you decide to go for open-ended questions, you won’t make more than one or two. On the other hand, if you ask a sequence of questions where the audience needs to raise their hands, you can ask more.
Question with surprise effect
A cool trick you could use for your presentation hook ideas is to send the audience in one mental direction, and then tell them they’re wrong. I know it sounds weird, but let me give you an example of a hook.
You ask a question and you give 3 possible options: A,B and C. You ask the audience to vote for one of the 3 options. Once they vote, you tell them that none of the answers were correct. At this point, they’ll feel surprised and you can hook them, then show them the correct one. You could build your speech step by step, commenting on why the 3 options are wrong. In this way, you’ll bring the audience to the message more naturally.
When I want to introduce the color theory for Presentation Design, I commonly ask my students how many colors we need to use in a presentation, and I give them 3 options.
However, none of them is right, as I want to show them the technique on how to choose the best color palette to make colors work in the most effective way. After the vote, they feel they have it wrong, so they want to know what the correct answer is. That’s a great hook for presentation.
Direct questions can be scary, and that’s why this is a powerful technique! In this case, you ask the question and you pick someone random from the audience to answer. However, if the person does not know the answer or if they’re shy, they’ll feel embarrassed. You need to be able to manage the embarrassment, or you’ll immediately create a tense atmosphere. However, people will know that you might call them all of the sudden to join the dialogue. Therefore, they’ll pay attention to avoid being caught unprepared.
Again, I recommend you to handle these situations carefully, because you do not want to recreate the atmosphere of a classroom exam.
I really like this technique and, more than the other presentation hook ideas, I often use it during my training as a powerful icebreaker. Instead of starting with you or your speech, start with your audience and ask them to introduce themselves one by one. I also like to add a question about what they expect to learn during my training, so I already set their expectations and I’m sure I’ll talk about something relevant to the audience.
One of the most common problems during presentations is that the audience isn’t interested in the topics discussed. On the other hand, it’s true that it’s often hard to know what everybody expects from the presentation, so what could be better than just asking them what they are looking for? Knowing the people in front of you also enables you to acquire knowledge about your target and their language, so it will be easier for you to connect with them.
I suggest you to take note when people talk so that you can use the information during the rest of the presentation to hook them again. For example, if I know that somebody comes from finance and wants to know how to present an ugly P&L, when I’m about to talk about that topic I can call his name and say something like, “Hey Anders, the coming section is the one you are interested in.” By doing this, I’ll wake him up and I’ll get his attention.
Another great technique to craft outstanding hook examples, is to discover the names of your attendants, so every time you talk to them, you can use their names. This will make them perceive you very close to them.
3. State a shocking fact
This is the classic hook that leaves the audience with their mouths open, staring at you. To create this effect, you normally use a surprising statistic. You can capture their attention by reminding them of their fears. If you properly leverage uncertainty, you can create anxiety due to the unknown, and people will need your answers to overcome their fears.
Jorge Soto uses this technique in his TED speech when he claims, “1 out of 3 people sitting in this audience will be diagnosed with some type of cancer.”
People are scared of cancer, so they want to listen to him to find out if he can provide them with a solution.
There are 2 ways to astonish your audience:
Did you know that…
When you start with the formula “Did you know that…?” and add the fact, you are creating expectations. The trick is to choose the most effective stats to make the audience interested in your message. Therefore, you need a statistic that matches your presentation.
To get the right fact, it’s often a good practice to do some research in your field. But you can also find websites full of facts that you can use as hook sentence examples:
- Did you know August has the highest percentage of births?
- Every 40 seconds someone in the world commits suicide.
- Did you know that unless food is mixed with saliva, you can’t taste it?
- Did you know the average person falls asleep in 7 minutes?
- The Earth is being shaken by Earthquakes over 1 million times per year.
- Did you know 8% of people have an extra rib?
- Did you know all your blinking in one day equates to having your eyes closed for 30 minutes?
Source: did-you-knows.com or factmontster.com/scary-facts-that-will-creep-you-out.
When deciding to choose this technique, your slides will play a crucial role. Check the difference between the two slides below:
The one to the left is made with a powerful graphic, but the second one shows the consequences of an earthquake. It shows destroyed buildings and the army helping people. The second one shows a dramatic situation, so it makes the problem immediately relevant, as it brings the consequences to life.
Imagine how much stronger the message could be if the city represented is the same city where your audience lives. If you can relate scary facts to the audience, you will resonate with them and you’ll be able to get their attention.
In this case, you shoot the fact straight to your audience and then you introduce the consequences.
Giulia Miur (check the analysis) gives an example: “Before the rule, more than 50 people here were dying in trenches every year. When you get killed in a cave-in, it’s not an easy way to go. You’re literally crushed to death under the weight of the soil. Soil weighs approximately 3,000 pounds per cubic yard. Nobody deserves to go to work and die that way”.
Finally, when you use a provocative fact as a way to hook your audience, I’d recommend you to make sure you integrate the fact with emotions. Always keep in mind that you need to use a fact with relevant consequences to your audience.
4. Use quotations to grab them
Opening with a famous quotation is a great way to borrow credibility from somebody who is well recognized and accepted by everybody.
The beauty of a great quote is its power to distill. To punctuate. To make things click. Sometimes the moral is presented on a plate, obvious as can be; sometimes the delivery is more subtle and sly. No matter how they’re served up, the best quotes resonate – for days, weeks, even years (Forbes)
Quotes play a curious effect of attributing to the speaker the values and the meanings behind them. However, even though they have a powerful communication effect, they need to be used carefully. In fact, you absolutely need to be sure that the quote you choose matches your message. It needs to be relevant to what you want to say. Take your time to scan the sources and find the best quote for the specific message you have to communicate.
There are different kind of quotes you can use to obtain this effect:
Hook famous quote
They just have a powerful and commonly accepted effect on people. If you can associate the quote to a resonating image, you’ll hit your strike on the very first slide.
Say I want to present a new technology for snowboards. I could use the following slide to introduce my speech:
You can source tons of famous quotes on the web. Let me share with you some of my favorite sources:
- Brainy Quotes
This is by far the source that I prefer and that I use most often. It’s well organized and full of inspirations. You can search by Author or by topic as show below:
This gives you enough flexibility to always identify the best quote for your message.
- The Yale Book of Quotations (App / Book)
- Good Reads
- Brainy Quotes
Hook movie quotes
Movies play a central role in most people’s lives. Movie quotes are a common knowledge and often part of jokes or slang. Starting with a famous quote allows you to quickly connect to the audience, wake them up and creating presentation hook examples.
I’m presenting a new sailing boat brand. Instead of start saying why our boats are faster, with better sails and so on, I could start with the meaning behind the brand by quoting Captain Jack Sparrow:
If I want to sell plastic surgery to women, I could open my presentation with the following quote:
I’m clearly copying Joe E. Brown in “Some Like It Hot” and I’m combining it with an image that allows me to introduce my message. With a simple quote and a related picture, I can mean whatever I want by borrowing the powerful communication effect from Joe.
You could source famous quotes from many different places and use them as unlimited source of presentation hook ideas, let them inspire you!
Hook foreign quotes
You could also broaden the border of your quotes or proverbs and go catch some famous ones abroad. If your audience has never heard the quote, they could discover a new powerful proverb thanks to your speech.
Let’s make the presentation hook example of a company that produces red umbrellas. You could start with the famous Italian proverb shown in the slide below:
You can source many foreign proverbs from: site for foreign proverbs.
One more fantastic source of inspiration for quotes is Pinterest. You just type in “quotes” and it gives you many tags to combine to customize your research.
It also gives you some inspiration as all the posts associate an image to the quote. Do not let Pinterest take your place. Remember that for this technique to work properly, you need to associate a meaningful image to the quote so that it delivers your message. Therefore, use it for inspiration but don’t let it do your job.
Another good way to leverage quotes is to adopt a controversial approach. You could also go against quotations and revert them: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. But we need to remember that a journey to nowhere also starts with a single step.” (Bruna Martinuzzi).
This will make the audience curious, as you are challenging a common belief. So they’ll want to hear how this can be possible and will focus their attention on you.
Another great technique to introduce quotations for your presentation hook ideas is to use a picture of the author:
If you are talking about a famous author, you’ll automatically inherit the values that they bring with them.
Finally, remember that quotes are a powerful way of making your presentations memorable to the audience. Leverage the opportunity to hook them since the beginning with an opening stunning quote.
5. Break common belief and provoke the audience
Provocation can be a great tool to hook your audience and to raise their curiosity. By provoking the audience, I mean you have to claim something that is totally against their belief. You’ll then spend the whole presentation supporting the claim and demonstrating how it can be true. If you are able to uncover the truth step-by-step, you’ll have them hooked to the end.
Let me give you an example from the outstanding TED speech of Jane McGonigal:
I’m Jane McGonigal. I’m a game designer. I’ve been making games online now for 10 years, and my goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games. Now, I have a plan for this, and it entails convincing more people, including all of you, to spend more time playing bigger and better games.
Right now we spend three billion hours a week playing online games. Some of you might be thinking: “That’s a lot of time to spend playing games.” Maybe too much time, considering how many urgent problems we have to solve in the real world. I’ve calculated the total we need at 21 billion hours of game play every week. […]
In fact, I believe that if we want to survive the next century on this planet, we need to increase that total dramatically.
This is the point where the audience thinks: “Wow! Hold on a second. Are you really claiming that to save the world I should be spending more time playing video games?”
The common belief is that video games are a way to escape reality and to waste productive time. We all think that the new generations are burning their lives in playing video games. But suddenly at TED, an influential speaker is claiming exactly the opposite and this makes the audience curious to know how it can be true that the reality is so different to what they thought.
Jane is also great at uncovering the message step by step through the presentation. The audience can’t really figure out why this is true until the very end. So Jane proceeds to hook the audience with a persuasive claim and keep them hooked until she shoots her message.
Finally, go against something the audience is convinced of and claim the opposite. Then walk them through your logic step by step to show how this is possible, and you’ll get their attention from beginning to end. This is a good hook for a presentation.
6. Bring it to life
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an English idiom meaning that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single image, or that an image conveys its meaning more effectively than a description. What makes a good hook in this case?
Opening with a picture, a video or a prop allows you to bring the subject to life immediately. If you are a good presenter, you’ll be able to leverage the imagination of your audience, but if you place the subject in front of their eyes, it’s not even a matter of imagination, it’s just true.
Let’s suppose you are in charge of presenting the new Apple SIRI, the virtual assistant. You could start talking about the features and all the functions it has, you could tell your audience how to activate it on their iPhones, or you could just show them the following video:
Watch out, because surely this takes attention off you, so it decreases the pressure level. But you need to be able to catch the attention back immediately. If you use a picture or a prop, this goes very fast because the processing time of a picture is very fast, and a prop is normally shown by a presenter, who interacts with it.
If you show a video instead, you’ll lose the attention of the audience for entire the length of the video and you’ll need to re-catch it once the video is finished.
A video, more than a picture, can help you convey a whole emotional environment to the audience. You can show a product demo, but you can also show a powerful trailer with music and enticing footage. This is a perfect tip for outstanding presentation hook ideas.
7. Make them laugh
Not an easy task, I know. To make the audience laugh, sometimes a joke might not be enough and on certain occasions, the audience might miss the joke, causing a no reaction at all. Looking at what the other influencers suggest online, as a result of my analysis, I’ve found a common opinion about how to make the audience laugh. Tell them a joke.
You can easily source jokes online if you do not have one. There are even websites that organize jokes by category: http://www.ajokeaday.com/categories.
What happens if they do not laugh? Well, your hook is dead but this does not mean that you ruined the whole presentation, so ignore the reaction and keep going.
Now, based on my experience, often telling a joke is not enough because to make people laugh, you need to feel the moment, you need to feel the connection with them and you need to behave in a such surprising way that you automatically trigger the fun.
In the following presentation, I was giving an introduction lesson about Lean Presentation Design and I made them laugh just by playing with the rhythm of my voice and showing them what could happen to the audience if you show them ugly slides.
So I showed them a ugly slide and then I showed them the sleeping audience. That was enough to make them laugh. I can tell you that afterwards, they were receptive, paying attention up to the end of the presentation.
8. Leverage historical events
Let’s say you work for a company that produces solar panels and wind turbines. The company closed a bad financial year and you, as a CEO, need to go out today, 26th of April, to motivate your board and get their commitment for the coming year.
Instead of reminding them that they won’t receive a bonus this year and that if they perform better, they will for the next year, you could motivate them by giving meaning to their work.
You could take advantage of that date (26th of April), show the following slide and saying, “About 10 years ago in Ukraine, a catastrophic nuclear accident occurred. Today, we exist to give the world an alternative.”
Your start will empower your board members. They’ll feel their work is important and has a real impact on the world, it saves lives. From now on, you can make your presentation because you will have them hooked.
9. Trigger the audience imagination
Imagine a big explosion as you climb past 3,000 ft. Imagine a plane full of smoke. Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack. It sounds scary. Plane crash survivor Ric Elias begins his speech by bringing the audience back to the event, straight into the story, triggering their imagination and making them visualize the scene of the plane crush. By using the word “imagine,” he turns on the people’s minds and force them to start seeing the images and feeling to be there.
A very effective way of using this technique is beginning with “Close your eyes and imagine.” Because in closing their eyes, people will focus on image visualization, not being distracted by the environment or the speaker. Moreover, you could prepare a surprise for when they re-open their eyes.
You could also begin with a “what if …” form. You could depict an ideal scenario that could actually be true if they listen what you have to say. Of course, it has to be a desirable scenario for the audience. Let’s say you invented a cure for cancer, you could start saying, “What if cancer deaths stop today?” Build on it. ”What if you could no longer lose someone close, a parent or friend, because of cancer?” and so on. You can keep going and build up expectations, and the farther you go, the more curious the audience will be.
10. Straight to the Problem
Start the presentation by describing the problem straight away. Be sure that the problem is relevant to the audience if you want your hook to resonate with them.
Let me give you a very simple example.
“Good morning, everybody. Competitor A took us over in terms of revenue this year and we have nothing with which to return fire.”
Now, if you work in that company, you might be interested in this fact and therefore you would want to know what comes next, to check whether there is a solution or if the speaker can just walk you closer to a solution. If you give a clear and relevant problem to the audience, then this is a very quick technique to hook them from the very beginning without spending time searching for specific visuals or the right quote.
Elon Musk in the Debuts of Tesla Powerwall presentation made a memorable speech that started with this technique.
“So, what I’m gonna talk about tonight is about a fundamental transformation of how the world works about how energy is delivered across the Earth. This is how it is today (shows a slide).
“It’s pretty bad, it sucks! Exactly! I just wanna be clear, because sometimes some people are, like, confused about it. This is real.
“This is actually how most power of the world is generated, with fossil fuels, and if you look at the curve, that’s a famous curve, the Keeling curve…”
He hooked the audience bringing their attention straight to a well-known shared problem; this is a good hook for a presentation.
“…which shows the growth in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and every year it ratchets up, it gets higher and higher, and if we do nothing, that’s where it’s headed to levels that we don’t even see in the fossil record.
“Well, I think we collectively should do something about this and not try to win the Darwin Award for us and a lot of other creatures too.”
At this point, he starts with his discourse:
“The way the grid works today is this: you got coal, you got natural gas, nuclear, hydro and wind and solar […].”
11. Set the expectations
First of all, I want to make it clear that setting expectations does not absolutely mean sharing a summary of your presentation like the one shown in the slide below.
That would just bore your audience even before you start the presentation, and won’t add anything to them. Let’s take an example from Cordell instead, who tells we should leverage the hook to go straight to the point and tell the audience:
- What about the topic
- What you need to know
- What you need to do
In this case, the audience feels more like you take care of them and you are saving them time by giving them only the information they need to know to take the proper action, which you’ll suggest as well.
In his 40.2 million views TED speech, Sir Ken Robinson gives an anticipation of 2 main topics that have been discussed by the others and that he wants to discuss during his presentation. Check the first 2 minutes of the video below.
Without any special effects, Sir Robinson starts anticipating two main topics he will discuss and connecting his speech to the conference.
This technique isn’t creative at all compared to the others, but it is extremely powerful because tells the audience that they won’t waste their time and you’ll go straight to the point. Imagine the scene when you come up on the stage and the first thing you say is, “Today, I’ll be telling you two things…”
A presentation hook examples technique comes from the outstanding presentation of Steve Jobs for the launch of the first iPhone. He sets the expectation and goes far beyond just exceeding them! If you haven’t watched this video yet, you’ll be astonished:
S.J.: Today we are going to introduce 3 revolutionary products of this class: the first one is an iPod.
The second is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And the third is a breakthrough internet communication device.
So, an iPod, a phone and a revolutionary internet communication device.
At this point, he keeps repeating the same sentence, telling the audience the three devices that he’s going to introduce. At this point, the audience starts laughing and clapping his hands because they think he is happy about these 3 new devices, but here he comes out with an explosive surprise. “These are not 3 separate devices, this is one device!” Boom! The audience goes crazy, he’s got them hooked from the very first moment of the presentation.
12. Use a surprising metaphor
Start with an image, just to create a suspense effect linked to your message and then uncover your message step-by-step with a metaphor.
The president of an electronics equipment company needed his managers to cut costs. Rather than showing mundane charts, graphs, and spreadsheets, he opened the meeting by asking, “What sank the Titanic?” When everyone in unison replied, “an iceberg,” he displayed a beautiful high-definition image of an iceberg on the screen: the tip of the iceberg was clearly visible above the water; the much larger portion was dimly visible below the surface of the water.
“The same thing is about to happen to our company,” he continued. “Hidden costs — the dangers beneath the surface — are about to sink this company. I need your help.” This visual metaphor spawned a creative, productive brainstorming session that inspired every business unit manager to diligently hunt for what they labeled the “icebergs,” says Price. The result was saving millions and ultimately the company. (http://business.financialpost.com)
Trying to imagine his opening slide, I designed the following graphic:
Mentioning the Lean Presentation Design Book here, you get a famous tip from Seth Godin:
The home run is easy to describe: You put up a slide. It triggers an emotional reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to say that fits in with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think of what you said, they’ll see the image (and vice versa). Sure, this is different from the way everyone else does it. But everyone else is busy defending the status quo (which is easy) and you’re busy championing brave new innovations, which is difficult.
13. Combine more hooking techniques together
We went through a long list of presentatation hook ideas coming from all the most influential speakers on the net. You’ll have to choose your technique based on the specific situation and on your audience. However, nobody said you can’t combine more of them together to craft your special perfect opening.
In the following video, Alan Watts, master of storytelling, combines two presentation hook techniques we have analyzed. First, he asks couple of rhetorical questions to the viewer and then introduces a story from his personal experience with his students. It takes time to get to the message but when he gets there, you feel that what he’s telling you is the natural consequence of the story that brought you there (good hook for a presentation). As a result, you are hooked from the beginning and the video results in impactful and memorable storytelling.
What did this video make you think? Did you like it? I just love this video and I like listening to this storytelling, as it is incredibly impactful.
A good hook for a speech launched in the first seconds of the presentation is the difference between success and failure. Now you have 13 presentation hook ideas, and a long list of videos and examples from which you can take inspiration every time you need to make a new hook.
If you liked this piece of research, I’d invite you to share and comment in order to enrich the guide and make it even more useful, thanks to the contribution of new readers. I’m looking forward to seeing your presentation hook ideas described in the comments below.
Have you ever successfully hooked you audience? How did you do? What are your favorite presentation hook ideas?
Let me know your presentation hook examples.
Digital Entrepreneur, Marketer, Blogger, Public speaker, Presentation design guru and Founder at MLC-Design. Top 5% PowerPoint presentation expert on Elance.com, top rated freelancer on Upwork.com and lecturer at Cattolica University of Milan. “Time is free but it’s priceless”