Let’s face it… regardless of the type of business; we’ve all sat through some pretty bad presentations. When delivering your presentation, you have to establish the audience’s attention and buy-in within the first 30 seconds. If you don’t have their attention from the beginning AND be able to maintain interest throughout the presentation, your message is lost. To make sure you have the audience in the palm of your hand at the start of the presentation, you have to deliver an “opening hook”. What is a “hook” you ask? Well, that’s the “attention getting” device a good presenter uses to establish audience attention and cause them to immediately respond with some type of reaction. Opening “hooks” can be a variety of different devices. The following is a listing of some of the most popular “hooks” used by presenters and why they’re effective. Remember, whatever “hook” you plan to use, make sure it relates to the message you’re delivering.

An anecdote (or short story) from your personal history that has a connection with the message you’re delivering.
Use humor. Not necessarily tell a joke (unless you’re a comedian)… but put a humorous spin to the introduction of your message.
A statement that creates doubt or disbelief. The statement doesn’t necessarily have to be true… just a statement that will peak the audience’s interest and attention.
A little known / interesting fact. Use something that would create interest, but make sure that it’s not common knowledge.
A controversial opinion. Nothing gets the “juices” moving faster than a statement that people disagree with on an important subject. Your audience will want to stay around to see what you’re going to say next.
An interesting statistic. This statistic could be a surprising revelation to members of the audience.
A current event. Everybody hears the news at some point, even if it’s 5 minutes of cable news during the day or glancing at a newspaper headline while in the convenience store.
A “Theatrical” performance. Being an actor, I have a tendency to use “hooks” that involve an element of stage performance. Now the audience wonders what I’m going to do next.
A quote. It doesn't have to be from someone famous. It just has to be appropriate and timely.
There are others...

The “hook” forces the audience to make choices. Do they agree or disagree with what has been said? Are they or are they not engaged by the performance factor of the “hook”? Do they laugh or try to keep a stoic face? Regardless… the opening hook sets the tone for the remainder of the presentation. Now that you’ve got their attention, how do you keep it? That involves introducing “timely grabs” throughout your presentation to maintain interest and a topic for another article. Until next time.

Author's Bio: 

John Fallon is currently in his 32nd year in the classroom at Walhalla High School. John is also the CEO of John Fallon Presents, PPT4Teachers and Design Insite, a member of NSA and NSA-Carolinas, a competitive member of Toastmasters International. As an active entrepreneur , John works with NFTE (the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship), YESCarolina (Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina), and SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship).

John is also a sought after trainer for his programs on Teaching Presentation Skills and is the author of several books on Presentation Skills, "Presentation Tips for Administrators", "Presentation Technology Tips for Administrators and "Teaching Presentation Skills". John’s most recent and soon to be released book, “Life Lessons of an Underachiever", clearly shows how our personal experiences create lessons for achieving successes in life. These lessons provide the basics for changing perceptions and basic mindsets essential for an underachiever to become an achiever. From one hour keynotes to break out sessions, many audiences seek John Fallon to provide critical education and insight that changes behavior that grows organizations and people.

John has spoken at:

HSTW (High Schools That Work) National Conference- Nashville TN
Education and Business Summit in Greenville SC
NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) Columbia University - NY
YESCarolina (Youth Entrepreneurship in South Carolina) College of Charleston - SC
School District of Oconee County Summer Institute
ASCD (Association of Superintendents and Curriculum Developers) National Convention in Anaheim CA

John’s mission is to empower his audience with the wherewithal to be the best version of themselves they can be! With humor and wit, John engages his audience with his messages on positive outcomes and strategies for success. He has addressed the needs of teachers, community organizations, corporations, and individuals for over thirty years!

John holds two master degrees. His MA in Choral Arts is from Western Carolina University and his MA in Education Administration and Supervision is from Clemson University. His BA in Music Education is from Long Island University.

John Fallon has provided Motivation , Inspiration, Personal Growth and Professional Development to organizations, corporations, educational institutions and individuals for over 30 years . John is a sought after speaker, presenter, PowerPoint expert and clinician, and as a recognized authority on the art of presentations, John has provided seminars / workshops in Presentation Skills, Public Speaking, Strategies for Success, Entrepreneurship and Technology.