Whether presenting to a group of 15 or 500, you always want to capture your audience right from the start. We often think a lot about what to say but less about how to say it. It doesn’t matter if you have the most interesting information to share, it will not have an impact unless you convey it in a compelling way. And in order to grab – and keep – your audience’s attention you must have a powerful start. Here are a handful of hints that can help you kick-start your presentation:

Throw out an offbeat statistic. Opening with a fact that nobody had even considered will often have a strong impact. Just imagine a speaker in a conference about doping in sport who leads their presentation with “Doping is one of the fastest growing businesses in the sport world”!

Make it personal. There is no faster way to get the attention of an audience than to use a personal story to introduce the topic. Personal accounts can establish an instant connection with your audience, so tell a story and use real life examples.

Use a pertinent quote. Opening with a quotation that can manage to invoke irony or humour can have a strong effect and will set the stage for what is to follow. If you talk about making important decisions and avoiding mistakes what about this one from the CEO of a major IT company who in 1977 said “There is no reason to believe that anyone would want a computer in their home”!

Draw a hypothetical scenario. This approach can focus on either the past or the future and provide either a positive or negative contrast. Of course a positive contrast would be the most spellbinding: “Imagine the athletes entering the Olympic stadium with 100’000 spectators and billions of Television viewers watching. Imagine the excitement, the atmosphere – and you are part of it.”

So the next time you are giving a presentation, make sure to grab and keep your audience’s attention by making a powerful impact right from the start!

We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: www.bcw-sport.com