- Project confidence, authority and energy by standing tall and owning the space
- Connect with your audience, make eye contact
- Open with a Classic Greeting, Question, Number or Story, and;
- Be relevant to the audience from the start. Let them know why they should listen
The stock standard opening to a presentation in any organisation follows this structure:
• Good morning/afternoon…
• My name is (insert name)
• Thanks so much for being here. I know how busy you are, so I really appreciate your attendance…
• What I want to discuss today is (insert topic)…so, hopefully you’ll find it interesting…
• Go to Slide One…
• This is what I’m going to cover…I know it seems like a lot and you probably won’t be able to read the small print, but I’ll explain everything later.
• Proceed from there…
By this stage your audience will probably be tuned out with a fixed look of polite attention on their faces….if you’re lucky.
How hastily do we judge someone or something these days? In our society of instant gratification, we determine competence, interest and relevance in a few heartbeats, then decide whether to ‘engage’ or drift off to our happy place.
As a Presenter, you must always Start Strong, if you want the audience to engage with you.
It seems glaringly obvious, yet so few of us start our presentations with attention-grabbing, interest-spiking, audience-engaging openings.
Four ways to start strong
Firstly: Approach the audience projecting purpose, authority and energy. Look engaged; stride confidently; stand tall. Feel like you own the room. And before you start (this is key), look at your audience. Make real eye contact and connect.
Secondly: Project and add depth to your voice. The lower your voice, the more authority it conveys. So, whatever you say, ensure your voice conveys confidence and an assured, comfortable energy.
Thirdly: Choose one of the following to open with:
Classic Greeting: The ‘good morning/afternoon’ opening (the quality of your voice does the work)
Question: “How many of you…?” encourages audience participation and the question is clearly linked to your topic.
Story: Preface your story with: “Before we start, I’d like to share this story…”
The story must set a relevance context for your topic/content. For example, if you are discussing cross-selling, you could relay a customer success story. The story must be brief and have the following components: When (timeframe), Where (location), Who (characters) What (what happened).
Data Point: Write a number, percentile or something similar and ask the audience for their opinion on what this could refer to.
Finally: Relevance! After your opening lines, immediately put forward the Why! (Why your presentation will be of benefit and value). People pay attention when the question “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) is answered.
The first 30 seconds are crucial. In our experience audiences have much shorter attention spans these days. Perhaps the lure of our electronic devices is a factor. So make those first 30 seconds count. Your audience will appreciate it.
Want to build memorable presentations with ease, every time? Start by grabbing a copy of our free guide here.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.