Hi, I am Michael Sinnhuber! Founder of PRESENTER.WORLD,, King of Presentations, Prezi Independent Expert.
I am on a mission to save this world from boring presentation by leading Presenters from Zero to Hero! Read more

This is the first episode of a new series I am starting here… It is called Quora Question of the day.

If you don’t know Quora… it’s a social platform where you can put up your questions and they will be answered by the community.  You can find all the questions, that I have answered in the past on  Read more

If you want to convince your audience to take action, you better know how to start a persuasive speech, or else you will loose right at the start. The first 10 to 20 seconds of your presentation is the time when you have the most attention. Use this time wisely with awesome presentation openers.

Time to Overthink your Presentation Openers

If you don’t capture your audience’s attention right away you’ve probably lost it forever. Chances are that after the first 60 seconds (at the latest) people’s thoughts will drift off to thoughts like: “What am I gonna have for lunch today?”, “Has my daughter done her homework?”, “Where did I put my phone?”

You get the point: you need to hook up your audience from the moment you enter the stage or stand up to give a short talk. Time to think about a presentation opener that will blow them away.

Start before you say the first word

Don’t think of your presentation opener only as the actual words you’re gonna say. Your opener starts before you even open your mouth: it’s the way you enter the stage, the way you smile at the audience, the way you’re dressed, your voice and body language. So prepare yourself, stand tall, smile, be enthusiastic!

Don’t start by introducing yourself

In case you’re asking yourself whether you should introduce yourself first: the answer is no. At least not in the traditional way. Chances are your audience already knows who you are; either they are working with you, they read your name on the speakers list or heard you being introduced by a moderator. Remember that your presentation should always be about the audience – not about you. Don’t waste the critical first seconds introducing yourself.

Hi, my name is Bob, I have 22 years working experience in the field of Presentation Coachings and am currently writing a book on Powerpoint and today I will talk about the history of stuttering. I have worked with many people in this field and I have learnt that (…) blablablabla

Wanna know a guaranteed way of boring your audience to death the moment you open your mouth? This is it. Have you ever heard Steve Jobs open his presentation with “Hi my name is Steve”? Chances are you haven’t. Not only because the world knew who he is anyways – also, because it’s just a bad opener. Why? People wanna know what’s in for them. They are far less interested in you as you might think.

You are not as interesting as you think

Your presentation should be about your audience and what they can take away from it. So if you have to introduce yourself: do it in the context of your presentation and do it only after you’ve hooked the audience up.

How to start a persuasive speech or presentation? Hook them up!

So coming to the point: You need to capture your audience’s attention right away. How can you do this? Here are our favorite tactics:

Surprise/ Shock: Shocking or surprising your audience with statistics or facts is a great way of getting their attention. As said before: give them the most interesting piece of information right away. You can still explain it later.

$3 Mio (Pause) This is the value of sales we have forgone last year” is a much better opener than “Today we’re going to discuss last year’s sales figures”. “The world’s richest 1 percent is now wealthier than the rest of humanity combined” will shock people rather than “Today we’re gonna talk about income inequality.

Story: We all love stories and engaging people with a surprising or funny anecdote is one of the best ways to get your point across. Take Steve Job’s famous commencement speech at Stanford as an example:

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. (…)

It’s surprising, confusing and it makes people curious. He’s taking his audience on a journey.

Humor: Make the audience laugh and they’ll love you. Humor is one of the best presentation openers ever (if used correctly). There are few things that make us connect to another person as easily as by laughing together. But be careful: make sure your joke fits the context.

Rhetorical Question

Engage your audience right away by asking them questions. Look at the first paragraph of  Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk:

How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent,the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him?

It’s a 20 second introduction just consisting of questions and one of the presentation openers that grab your attention right away.

Video/ Graphics: If it’s a product presentation why don’t you simply show them the product? This is what they came for. Or show them a short video. This is a great way if you’re battling stage fright. It hooks up the audience for you while you get the chance to concentrate on your next steps.

There are countless ways of opening your presentation. Choose a presentation opener that makes sense for your topic and practice it a few times. Try it next time you’re addressing your audience and you’ll see the results.


Download a list of 22 ingenious presentation openers NOW


A business event – two weeks ago. Awesome location, interesting topics and… a firework of bullet points! A speaker steps on the stage and starts his personal firework. Five minutes later, 99 % of the audience members are playing around on their smartphones to escape the “death by powerpoint”. But the guy keeps on firing his bullets for another 30 minutes. Does that sound familiar to you? I am sure it does!

In the lunch break I find myself seated just next to him. After a little small talk he asks me “What do you do for a living?”. “I save the world from boring presentations”, I tell him. “Oh, that sounds like a ‘Mission Impossible’” he says with a giggle. “When I think of all the boring presentations I see every day, I could fall asleep immediately. But I know, that less is more”, he adds.

9 out of 10 times when I tell people what I am doing, I get the exact same answer. So it seems, that everybody knows the simple basic rule of a great presentation, right? But if everybody knows it, why the hell are 95 % of presentations out there are so bad?

Knowledge is nothing without execution

In my opinion the answer is quite simple. “Knowing” and “saying” are easy tasks, but “doing” is something completely different. Because it requires hard work! This is true for any topic in our life, right? I guess everybody in the so called “modern world” knows that we shouldn’t eat too much fatty food and work out on a regular basis to stay healthy. But the truth is different – we are getting fatter and fatter. Why? Because working out is hard work.

And, no matter if we are talking about health or presentations, too many people simply don’t want to put in that hard work or do not have the time to. When preparing a presentation, we think everything we have to say is important and people have to hear as many of it as possible in a given time. That’s why we copy/paste tons of text onto powerpoint slides and hope, that if we hammer out enough info, the message will find its way to the audience anyway. But – as sad as it is – it doesn’t!

And by the way, if this was the way it worked, the proverb would be “more is more”, but it says “less is more”! So why is it less and what is this “less” in your topic?

Do you remember?

Think about all the presentations, speeches and conferences you attended in last couple of months. How many great presentations come to your mind immediately? One? Two? Three? None? If you remember any of them, what exactly do you remember? Is it the presenter, the topic, a message? When you are like 90 % of the people, chances are, you don’t remember a lot.

Why am I asking these questions? To make clear that, compared to the tons of information we hear and see every day, only a tiny fraction of it makes it to our longterm memory. Less information is being remembered and it gets harder and harder for any message to survive the fight for attention.

Be memorable!

Having said that, it seems quite obvious, that if you present, your audience will also remember only a tiny fraction of what you are saying, right? Sad but true!
How can you make sure, that people remember the right part of it or anything at all? Well, YOU have to define, what people should take away from your speech! That’s why it’s often called “take away message” or core message. Think of it like a bag, you are giving away to your audience, when they leave the room. You define what’s in the bag – but it can only be ONE thing!

What’s your message?

So, if you want to be memorable, you have to define your core message first. To find it, strip your content down to the bare essentials. What is the main argument and why should your audience care? Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and answer their number one question, being “what’s in it for me”!

You find it hard to define your core message? Just think of a first aid course. A typical first aid course takes between 16 and 30 hours to complete. In all that time a lot of important information is delivered to the audience. Important information that can save lives! After finishing the course, you walk out and hope, that you will never have to use anything you’ve learned. And, a lot of it will be forgotten pretty soon. But, there’s that one core message, that you should never ever forget, no matter if it’s 2 months or 20 years after completing the course.

And that is “HELP”! Do anything! Don’t walk by an accident, help! No matter, if you call the ambulance or you administer first aid, do anything possible to help the victims! So, when defining your core message, always think of what’s the “HELP” of your topic.

Will this be easy? No! Worth it? Absolutely! Because the payoff is pretty obvious. If you don’t know your core message, how should any audience on earth get it? But if you define a great take away message, you have the chance to stay in the mind of your audience forever.

Creating a memorable presentation

Once you have found your message, build a story around it. Why a story? Stories are easier to remember than plain information chunks. I know that storytelling is one of the most misused buzzwords in todays marketing. But it works, just think of your childhood. I am sure you remember the core message of all the fairy tales. But none of them was ever presented to you in list of bullet points, right?

Telling a story is not rocket science. Just put yourself in the shoes of your clients and think of the challenges and issues they might have? How can your products or services solve those issues? Think through all the steps, use real characters and let them experience the whole situation from suffering to solving the issue. Done right, your core message will be remembered as the problem solver forever and always! Less information with more value!


We live in world of massive information overflow. The more information we hear and see every day, the less we can remember. If you want to stand out with your presentation and be memorable, you need to find the core message of your topic and define it as the take-away message for your audience to remember. Done right, this kind of less information with more value will lead to more success.

Giving “Less is more” a meaning!




This article was originally written as a guest post for

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