How you should be starting every presentation.
First off, don’t get me wrong, every presentation is different. It all depends on what you’re talking about, but in almost all cases the best way to start a presentation is easy. It can even be condensed into one word.
Let me explain, this is what I do to “break the ice.” As we know the quicker we break the ice, the better.
Breaking the ice — do or say something to relieve tension or get conversation going at the start of an event or when people meet for the first time.
Easy enough? Maybe not quite.
The question is how do you create laughter and avoid awkwardness.
How do you create laughter? There are many ways but these are my top three ways: Make a joke, point out something everyone can relate to, do something unexpected. I’ll watch people go up to present and start off with “ok, so today…” or “hello…” or “How are you?” To which many audiences will be dead silent or respond with a boring “hi, good.”
These are some of the most boring ways to start a presentation! You want to get the audience going. It really doesn’t even have to be a good joke, it can just be the way you bring energy to the room. Bring the energy.
Reading the Room
I was with a group of UX people doing lectures on design patterns for mobile applications. The room was super quiet and people looked like they were bored and could fall asleep. So when I went up to do a UX Presentation I said, “OH YEAH, who’s excited to learn more about these features?!” In an super excited over the top voice, it brought energy to the gloom room.
It wasn’t even that funny, I was just trying to get them excited about new features. People laughed because I changed the energy level.
Right off the bat, people are thinking. “This guy has confidence, you can tell he’s not nervous.” When in fact I’m sweating and super underprepared.
Starting off with creating laughter honestly just takes control of the room, and will grab peoples attention — For a little while at least. They’ll want to hear what you have to say. I’ve actually had a lot of people I’ve worked with say they enjoy my presentation style.
In University as well, my past public speaking teacher and UX teachers have commented on my openings. They liked how I started my presentation by taking control of the room with laughter while I was setting up.
It’s not even part of the presentation sometimes, if nothing is prepared I just say it while I’m setting up a presentation or walking to a podium or projector.
Laughter doesn’t always mean a well thought out joke. If you go up and do a knock knock joke unrelated to the environment your presenting in, it might flop. Be relatable, over the top, and/or funny.
I’ve been Ross Dillon. Freelance Designer. UX Student.
You’ve been an amazing reader, a clap would mean so much.
Find more of me here: rossdillon.me