Even seasoned trainers and presenters sometimes get a case of the nerves standing in front of an audience. The August 2017 issue of TD at Work, “Great Presentations,” offers tips on how to start off your next presentation with a bang.

There are a number of ways to capture the attention of your audience. You’ll also want to include a clear introduction, as you would in a good piece of writing, so your audience knows what they’re going to learn early on.

  • Ask a question. Posing a query immediately engages your listeners. If you’re presenting on how to give a good presentation, you might ask, “How would you like to feel more comfortable speaking in front of an audience?”
  • Tell a personal story. A personal story will help you create a connection with the audience. But a word of warning from the author of “Great Presentations,” Jason Sturges: “Not all people are born storytellers.” You want to make your story come alive with the right level of detail; also, make sure it’s relevant to the audience and the topic.
  • Use an icebreaker. While a personal story can help you connect with your audience, using icebreakers, which involve interactions between participants, can create a sense of connection among learners. You might pose a question that each participant in a pair shares the answer to. Or, if audience members are already familiar with one another—for example, if they’re co-workers—simply ask them to share what they hope to learn during the program.
  • Begin with a quote. A quote that aligns with the topic at hand can attest to its importance, or add to your credibility, explains Sturges.
  • Share a statistic. Using this tactic, like beginning with a quote, can accentuate the importance of the your presentation’s subject. Make sure the statistic is current and accurate.
  • Use humor. As with storytelling, not everyone is a born joke teller, and everyone’s sense of humor is different. If you don’t think you have the sense of timing to tell a joke, you might want to use a funny movie clip or video that gets to the point of your presentation.

When you connect with your audience at the beginning, you’ll not only engage them and grab their attention, but also feel more comfortable yourself.

“Great Presentations” includes sidebars written by experts in the training and communications field. Topics include tips for powerful conclusions, how to prepare for your presentation, and advice on how to keep your presentation easy to understand so as to avoid cognitive overload in your audience.

Take a look inside “Great Presentations.”