Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

Why Is It Important to Begin ANY Presentation with a Hook?

During our recent long spell of online presentations, I noticed something important.

In the first few minutes of air time, presenters often either:

  • Launched a poll. This often took longer than expected, and could dilute participants’ focus on the topic itself.

OR (more often)

  • Presenters didn’t try to hook their audiences at all. Instead, they launched into introductions or dove straight into content.

If the goal was to elicit engagement, commitment and interest in the topic, both these strategies sadly miss the boat.

Good Hooks

GOOD hooks help people “get into the boat”. They are fast, meaningful, and interactive.

  • FAST: Your hook should last 30 seconds to one minute.
  • MEANINGFUL: Your hook should relate to your topic. The best hooks elicit emotion in the audience, whether it is intrigue, anxiety, laughter, or any other feeling.
  • INTERACTIVE: Your hook should demand engagement from ALL audience members. Physical engagement is great, even online.

Three Good Hooks

IMPORTANT: Make sure any hook you create meets the criteria above.

1. Ask a question that participants must answer in chat immediately . Give only 15 seconds to respond. Answers can be simple yes/no, true/false, or anything else short and sweet. Don’t belabor the answers or read them aloud.

2. With cameras on, ask participants to raise hands as you ask questions fairly rapidly. Again, don’t belabor. Insist that people respond.

3. Use “Perspectives”:

  • Tell participants to point at the ceiling with their index fingers, arms above their heads.
  • Now, tell them to start moving their index fingers in a clockwise direction, keeping them perpendicular to the ceiling.
  • Tell the participants to begin to move their index fingers downward, keeping the circle going and perpendicular to the ceiling.
  • When the fingers are at about at chest level, still going in a circle, instruct the participants to look at their fingers.
  • Ask: “Which direction is your finger going?”
  • Participants will look confused and say, “counterclockwise.” Keep asking until some bright soul says “It’s still going clockwise! Our perspective changed, that’s all!”
  • Wait for the “ah-hahs.” Connect this experience to taking on a new point of view/perspective regarding the concept you are about to present.

I provide more ideas for good hooks in my book, “Instructional Design That Soars”.

Remember, a good hook is fast, meaningful and interactive. Good hooks go a LONG way in making your presentation a success.







2 Responses to “Why Is It Important to Begin ANY Presentation with a Hook?”

  1. Bruce Cronquist says:

    Great tip. My favorite opening is to dispel a truth they believe in. For example, when I was teaching software testing to a product team, I would ask them what they thought about their product’s quality, tell them their product sucked, showed them why it sucked, and THEN showed them how the course content will help them improve the product’s quality.

  2. Guila says:

    Your opening sounds great, Bruce!!

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