Feb 24, 2019

How crucial is the start of your presentation? [Sequoia's graph inside] (Post 4 of 30)

We have all heard the adage, "Well begun is half done". While it may be true, does it apply to PowerPoint presentations? How crucial is the start to any presentation?

It turns out, the start is a make or break opportunity. Let me show you a graph from Sequoia's blog. For those of you who might not know Sequoia, it is one of the biggest venture capital firms in the world and it has made significant investments in some of the biggest start-ups.

In his blog post 'How to present to investors' Aaref Hilaly (of Sequoia) shares an attention graph.
The above attention graph is for a 60-minute long presentation. The graph indicates how the attention of the audience changes during your presentation. There are a few important implications:

  1. Everyone pays attention to you at the start
  2. Attention falls sharply after about a minute or two (because the start was bad and not exciting)
  3. Attention rises at the end (we usually focus back on the presenter when the talk is ending)

What does this mean for you as a presenter?

The start of your presentation is a huge opportunity. You start well and you earn the interest (and attention) of your audience. You start with generic stuff (which bores) and you lose everyone.

  • Start with something which is critical to the entire presentation
  • Start with something remarkable or shocking
  • Start with a story, example or anecdote (or whatever helps you grab attention quickly)

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