“Hello, my name is Helen and today I’m going to explain to you how to…” YAWN!
You may have heard the saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression”, so make your opening count! Make a SPLASH!
Those first precious seconds of attention will result in audience members either settling in to listen to you or deciding to tune out. We know that people have short attention spans, so you need to plan your first words carefully and ensure that they will hook the audience and let them know that you are worth listening to.
To do this you can surprise, entice, amaze, intrigue, or shock your listeners. Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of suggestions of how to do that:
- Introduce an unusual statistic
- State your call to action (what you want the audience to think, feel or do after your presentation)
- Show an interesting (relevant) picture (if you are using a slide deck)
- Ask them a question
- Describe the utopia that you, your product or service creates
- Describe the challenges and pain that you, your product or service solve
- Tell them a short (relevant) story
- Challenge them (to think or act differently)
- Use a (relevant) quote
Following your incredible, noteworthy opening, you can introduce yourself, your company or product/service. If you are speaking at an event, you will probably be introduced onto the stage (whether it’s virtual or in-person). Therefore, you may not even need to remind the audience of your name and background.
Plan carefully what you will say to open your presentation. You may wish to memorise, word for word, the opening.
Once you start with a powerful opening, the audience will know where they stand and what to expect. The people listening to you will engage and concentrate on what you have to say. You will also feel more confident and relaxed, and the rest of your presentation will follow more smoothly.
To give your audience a sense of resolution you can also refer back to your opening in your closing statements. You can mention that unusual statistic again, answer the question you asked at the beginning, give them the happy ending of the story, or simply repeat and drive home your call to action.
Crafting a powerful opening is not difficult, but it is worth taking the time to think about it and results in a much more polished, focused and impactful presentation that your audience will remember.
Grab your audience’s attention from the first word that comes out of your mouth. Let them know that it’s worth listening to you!