No presenter in their right mind would set out to bore their audience to death! So why is it that so many presentations start in such a dull way?
“Good morning everybody, it’s very nice to be here. I hope you had a safe journey….” SO WHAT!?
Research suggests that it takes less than seven seconds to make a first impression, so the way you kick things off really counts! If you want to stand out from the crowd it makes sense that you have to do things differently from everyone else but most people are scared of rocking the boat. I’m confident that if you try one of the simple techniques I’m going to share with you below you’ll never fail to grab you audience’s attention again.
#1. DITCH THE NICETIES
Thanking people for their time, starting with your biog or giving an overview of what you’re about to cover puts you on the fast track to forgeability. So many people set themselves up to fail by beginning their presentations with what I call “middle management speak”. If you’ve got the courage to stand up in front of an audience then I’m sure you’ve got something important to say. So, don’t let it get buried under tons of small talk. Worse still never start with an apology. I’ve yet to see anyone start their TED talk by saying “I know you’re busy so I’m going to keep this brief. I promise not to take up too much of your time”!! The bottom line is, if what you’re about to say isn’t important, get off the stage and send an email instead!
So, assuming you’ve got something you really want to share, how should you begin?…
#2. START WITH A FACT OR A QUESTION
One of the best way to begin a presentation is make your audience curious. Starting with a fact or a question means that audience members have to engage their brains. How many times have you been bored watching someone go through their PowerPoint slides? .... It’s impossible to stop your brain from trying to answer the question! A bold statement or fact at the top of a presentation has the same effect. It also signals to the audience that you’re different and that you’re not going to follow the same format as everybody else.
#3. STOP BEFORE YOU START
My third tip is probably the most powerful and can be used in all sorts of situations, not just presentations. Rather than bounding up to the front of the room and starting to talk straight away, try the following technique. Walk up to the spot you are going to speak from, stop, take a deep breath and count from 1 to 7 in your head, all the time making gentle eye contact with your audience. Most people start talking straight away and this means that the people watching you don’t have a chance to take you in. Stopping before you start allows them this opportunity and also give you a chance to calm your nerves before you open your mouth to talk. Not only will you have instant gravitas you’ll also make sure that you have the audience’s full attention so that they don’t miss any of the important stuff you’re about to say!!
Are you brave enough to try out one of the techniques above in your next presentation? If you are, I’d love to hear what impact they on you and your audience, so please share your experience in the comments box below.
Until the next time