As communicators, we are notorious for focusing too much on content without initially factoring in the processes of commanding the attention of our audience.
Here are some practical solutions to command attention, and hook your listener(s) at the start of your next presentation:
Humour provides the listener with a sense of comfort which transpires into positive energy. When effective communicators use humour to start a presentation, quite often they are looking to create an atmosphere of relaxation and space for their audience, which then leads into a more succinct discussion.
Telling a story at the commencement of your talk may seem an interesting way to lead into the body of your presentation, however, opening stories may also lose the audience very quickly if they do not include relevant, provoking and direct points which attract attention.
Rhetorical questions have two objectives; commanding attention and sequentially leading into a moment of thought. Similar to a story, rhetorical questions must provoke thought and engage within moments, otherwise it is irrelevant to the specific audience.
Using quotations to start a presentation often acts as an opportune segue for the presenter, however, it is essential to understand that if the quotation sounds as though the presenter has pulled it from a random page in a textbook, the audience won't want to listen. Further, quotations must be memorable, in most instances not overly known so you don't repeat previous content, and they should also be relevant to the underlying basis of the talk.
Thought Provoking Statement
The majority of memorable presentations start with a thought provoking statement. Such statements instantly command attention, make the audience engage in thought and small-talk, may intentionally send an emotional front towards the audience, and often reflect a personality trait or experience of the presenter.
Effective presenters must command attention in a matter of seconds, otherwise their entire presentation is at risk. There is no one option for selecting 'the right hook', however as a presenter you must understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and respond to them by choosing an engaging hook that represents who you are and what you are intending to discuss.
All videos in this blog post are credited to TED