Presentation Skills, Presentation Tips, Public Speaking, Tips For Success

Presentation Tips Part 1: Opening a Presentation

by Caug124

November 2nd, 2012

Most airplane difficulties occur at two critical points: take-off and landing. The same is often true of presentations. A strong opening will create additional confidence and is an opportunity to make an immediate positive first impression.

Key Points: Get favorable attention quickly, Lead naturally into your presentation, Build goodwill, Create points of agreement

Techniques: Use an exhibit, Dramatize your ideas, Get participation, Cite points of agreement or common ground

Avoid the apology. “How often we all have heard speakers begin by calling the attention of the audience to their lack of preparation or lack of ability. If you are not prepared, the audience will probably discover it without your assistance.”  —Dale Carnegie

Presentation Tips: For the ultimate presentation effectiveness, utilize one of the following types of openings for your next public speaking engagement:

 1.     Captivating Statement

Option:  Analogy
Example:  “I remember first learning how to drive a car. I thought it was going to be very simple, but quickly discovered how complicated it is. Learning to master the skills of driving a car is very similar to launching our strategic initiative of…”

Option:  Startle
Example:  “Look around the room. One in three of you will likely be out of business this time next year if you don’t change two simple things you are doing right now.”

Option:  Good news
Example:  “Yesterday we closed out the books for the past fiscal year. Great news! We hit all our financial targets.  Everyone in this room is getting a bonus!”

 2.     Question

Option:  Gain information
Example:  “Let’s take a quick poll. How many of you have been involved in our Service with a Smile training program so far this year?”

Option:  Get participation
Example:  “In a moment, would each person in the room please use one word (or sentence) to describe your reaction to our topic for today.  For example, my word is ‘excited.’”

Option:  Create agreement on a need or interest
Example:  “If there were a way that you could increase your billable time while, at the same time, increasing your client retention, you would probably want to know about it, right?”

3.      Incident

Option:  Personal experience
Example:  “My wife and I were driving home through a bad storm late one night. Suddenly, a car coming from the other direction lost control and veered into the grass median. It was swerving, bouncing, and curving right toward us! We barely missed each other, but there was a severe collision right behind us. I felt numb and lucky to be alive, but my wife took action. We backed up to the accident, and she immediately went to help. Other cars were slamming on brakes and steering around the wreckage. She was a hero. The lesson I learned relates to why we are together today.”

 Option:  Third party
Example:  “Just last week, I went into the office of our chief financial officer and saw that he had a big smile on his face. I asked him what in the world could make him so happy, and he began to tell me this story.”

Option:  Historical
Example:  “In 49 B.C. Julius Caesar was approaching Rome with the Roman legion and stopped at the Rubicon river, the point of no return. Advancing across the river would create inevitable civil conflict.  Caesar reportedly said, ‘The die is cast,’ and marched forward to ultimately become the undisputed master of the Roman Empire. We are facing a similar turning point….”

4.      Compliment

Option:  Listeners
Example:  “You probably don’t realize the value that you create for people and organizations. You manage craftsmen who actually create value with their hands, their tools, and their skills. There is an art to your business that is disappearing. I hope you take pride in what you do and in the impact that you create.”

Option:  Organization
Example:  “Most people in this room are probably unaware that our organization was the first in the world to…”

Option:  Individual
Example:  “I know that one person in this room has earned your great respect. Four years ago, she showed fortitude and vision in creating and launching a tremendously successful new product line. We are all enjoying the benefits of her determination. One thing you might not know about her is….”

For more Dale Carnegie Presentation tips, visit our site. Or read our public speaking schedule for opportunities in your area!

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  1. sandeeps11 /

    Yes this is basic and most important part to begin presentation….

  2. C. Pearce /

    would like to print this. Unsuccessful so far.

  3. Hamby /

    Never use Obama as an example. You will never be effective, even with a teleprompter.

  4. Ty /

    The paragraph titled “Our Vision of Leadership Training” on the homepage for the Dale Carnegie site has an error. Please advise your web developer to edit the change needed.

  5. Name /

    Enter comment here

  6. Diana /

    Thank you for this valuable article. I have found good openings to be a crucial component of effective presentations because they signal the audience to listen up and be engaged. Conversely, a poor opening may be impossible to recover from.

    I’m a masters student in Roosevelt University’s Training and Development Program (; and I will be sharing this article with my classmates. Thank you for providing so many effective opening tips!