Hook Your Audience and Keep Them

The decline in our collective attention span has engaged researchers for years, and they are all mostly in agreement — we are losing our ability to focus. There are individual ways for us to reverse this trend – meditation, mindfulness, and limiting screen time are some examples – but when you are standing in front of a modern audience, you have to assume that it will require all your skills as a presenter to get and keep their attention.

Simply because of how the human mind works, even the most engaging presenters may struggle to hold their audience’s undivided attention throughout an entire presentation. People will get distracted, even if just for a few moments here and there. So take full advantage of the times you are most likely to have everyone’s attention – at the beginning and at the end.

Your opening and closing should be carefully crafted and practiced well in advance of your presentation. First, you’ll want to do some research on your audience. Here’s a mnemonic you can use to make sure you have all the information you need:

  • Knowledge: What is your listeners’ knowledge level about your subject?
  • Needs and Concerns: What specific listener needs should you address?
  • Opinion and Attitude: What is the listener’s opinion and attitude about your subject?
  • Who: Who specifically will be attending your presentation? Get names, titles, departments. 

Once you KNOW your audience, then you can craft your opening and closing. Here’s what you’ll want to consider building into each one:


An attention-getter. This can be a thought-provoking question, a dramatic visual, a personal statement, or a story that involves the listener. Then follow that up with the ABCs of your message:

  • Action: What action do you want your listener to take? This can be somewhat general.
  • Benefits: What are the benefits to the listener of taking that action?
  • Conviction: What is your personal conviction about your subject?


Your closing will mirror your opening with a few refinements:

  • Action: End with a strong, specific call to action. Here is a post on how to do that.
  • Benefits: You’ve gone over the benefits in your opening and elaborated on them in the body of your presentation. Now you’ll want to craft a brief statement that summarizes those benefits in a memorable way.
  • Conviction: Restate your personal conviction, so the audience knows where you stand on the subject.

Your opening and closing should be brief and use dynamic words. Practice them using your phone to record yourself. When possible, get some professional feedback on your words and your delivery so you can grab your audience’s attention and hold it. 

ProComm Ltd has been helping business people improve their communication skills for over 22 years. We use interactive, personalized, small group trainings that include video recording and private coaching. Intensive practice and feedback from experienced trainers are the best ways we have found to develop and enhance professional communication skills.

You can learn more about our programs here. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you meet your business goals by identifying needs and creating solutions that maximize every communication opportunity, contact us here.