Hooking an audience within the first five minutes of a marketing presentation means finding a way to slant the beginning in a way that arouses their interest and their curiosity, pulling them out of their world and into your world.
Consider the physics of a black hole. In theory, any object coming within a certain distance of a black hole is immediately sucked into it. In fact, that object has no choice in the matter--that black hole is going to draw it in whether it wants out or not!
That's how a hook should be--all-powerful and relentless in its ability to grab, seize and captivate. Unlike a black hole, however, a good hook won't send readers of your presentation into oblivion. Instead, it should keep them rooted in the moment by arousing their interest and appealing directly to their emotions.
Baiting the Hook with Irresistible Appetizers
An appetizer is meant to stimulate your appetite in preparation for something even better. Essentially, that's what a hook is--an appetizer. Instead of using food, you need to create a memorable, engaging offering using compelling words that resonate and pique the reader's interest.
10 Ways to Hook Your Audience
1. Get your audience's adrenaline surging by appealing to their inner instincts for survival. Use words like "stalking", "endangered", "warning", "fear", "alarm" and "uncertainty" to seize their attention within the first few sentences of your presentation.
2. Hook your audience with the promise of something interesting and easy to understand. Use numbers to indicate you are going to provide them with a useful, interesting list--8 Habits of Productive People or 12 Advantages to Using Our Product. It's a simple trick, but it is timelessly effective.
3. Awaken your audience's desire to experience surprise and amazement by slanting the first few sentences with a "remarkable" concept about your product or service. Superlatives are useful for grabbing attention but don't go overboard with them or your presentation may elicit laughter instead of serious interest.
4. On the other hand, a humorous slant, when done well, is probably the most effective way to reel in an often jaded and distracted audience. Make sure it is relevant to the subject of your presentation. Don't just start off with a random joke about cats and then jump into your presentation about medical supplies for diabetics.
5. Hooks don't necessarily have to be wildly creative. Stating a problem or intention starkly and simply is also effective in compelling the audience to bite and not let go. For example, you might begin by declaring that "Competitors are aggressively targeting a customer demographic that is causing us to lose revenue and market share". An uncompromising reality is captivating in its own right.
6. Humans are naturally curious, so arousing that strong sense of curiosity can draw an audience's attention away from even a strong preoccupation with something. Start off by saying something like "I would like to let you in on a secret" or "It's confession time and what I want to confess may startle you".
7. Ask a question right away. Most people like answering questions (as long as the questions don't put them in compromising situations) because it makes them the center of your attention. For example, you could start your presentation with "How many of you...?", "Have you ever...?" or "Would you like to...?".
8. Depending on the subject of your presentation, you could hook them with an amusing personal anecdote that subtly leads into the gist of your presentation. Audiences like knowing that the entity behind a professional presentation is human, responsive and genuinely implicated in what they are reading.
9. If you have a talent for descriptive writing, try creating a clear, indelible image of a person, object, situation or event associated with your product or service. To hook audiences interested in marketing mobile apps, you may try developing a short vignette of a procrastinator who relies on an app to get them to an important meeting on time.
10. When you can't seem to come up with something effective, try finding "hook" inspiration by studying competitor presentations. Take something you find especially interesting and apply it to your own presentation by changing the slant, objective and structure.
Hooking an audience in five minutes is definitely not impossible but it does take some research, analytical thinking, creativity and a little of that "black hole" power to get the results you want.