How to Hook an Audience

The importance of an effective introduction, that gets your audience “hooked” and wanting for more, cannot be overemphasized. There are many ways to “hook” the attention of an audience. Following are four very effective ways to do so.

Tell an amusing story or a funny observation. Sometimes we learn better when we can laugh. Even at our own expense, when we are the butt of the joke. Think about a presentation on “increasing productivity in the workplace.” Highlighting how much time a supervisor spends organizing and executing the weekly football pool is something most audience member can relate to. Irony works well and there’s no lack of human foibles to draw from.

Illustrate the consequences – good and bad – for your listeners. Most topics have at least two sides, and your audience should know about both of them. Challenge your audience’s assumptions about a subject by opening with the opposite point of view or outcomes. Giving your listeners a different point of view is a sure way to hook them.

Share your personal take on the subject. Use this one sparingly. If you have authentic experience or knowledge to contribute to your audience, then do so. Be careful not to seize the opportunity to talk about yourself needlessly. Sharing personal experience and anecdotes is a wonderful to connect with your listeners.

Explain the subject’s relevance to the audience.  Let’s face it, oftentimes people don’t understand why they are attending a presentation. For example, a group of employees may not understand how increasing the company’s bottom line affects them on a personal level. An auditorium of high school seniors may not grasp how cyber-bullying has a bearing on them, or anyone else. Draw the connecting lines for your audience.

Remember, you can use one or all hooks for your presentations, or keep one or two up your sleeve to use for audiences that need a little shaking up. Because once you’ve got everyone there, you don’t want to let their attention go drifting away.

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