If you’ve been following this series of presentation tips, you will now understand the purpose of your presentation and as much as you can about your audience.
You will also be clear on how to structure the “noise.”
Now it is time to focus on the all-important opening. After all, as Plato said, "the beginning is the most important part of the work."
Getting the opening right is vital to the success of your presentation, and if it is crafted mindfully, it lets your audience know:
- They are definitely in the right room
- They really don’t want to miss a word
- They can relax because they are in safe hands
- You have something to say that will make a big difference to them
Tip 4: Open with style and impact
So much has already been written on how to open a presentation with impact, yet every day, in businesses all over the world, we hear speakers begin with:
“Good morning. My name is John Smith, and I’m delighted to be here. Our Company, ABC Enterprise, has been around for 17 years; we have 12 offices and over 700 employees.
“Our mission is to be the best in our field.”
Often the speaker will then go on to share their personal credentials in terms of their qualifications, length of service, and how excited they are to be here.
Sometimes it will include an apology for how nervous they are, how the material was dumped on them at the last minute, or, incredibly, how boring the subject is they are about to speak on.
Let’s get one thing straight: Your audience doesn’t care.
Really, I mean it.
They don’t even care what your name is until they are satisfied that they are in the right room, you are not going to waste their time, and that you have something of value to share.
How do you do that?
The good news is that there are countless ways, although each of them involves you using your imagination and creativity to invoke their attention, interest, and curiosity at the outset.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Open with a short, relevant, and powerful story
- Ask them a thought-provoking question
- Command the use of their imagination
- Shock, surprise, or intrigue them with a compelling fact or statistic
- Share a powerful quote that sets the scene
- Project an image that arouses their curiosity
- Make them laugh, although don’t just tell a joke
- Get them to do something straight away
- Pass something around for them to look at, feel, touch, and explore
I really could go on and on and on, but I think you get my point.
When it comes to presenting in business, unfortunately, expectations are already low; your audience has heard it all before.
Open your presentation with something they haven’t already heard or experienced.
It really is within your gift.
Now you have their attention; watch out for Part 4.
Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.
Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s best loved brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at www.mindfulpresenter.com
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