How many times have you been in a meeting or watching a presentation and you hear
“Today I’m going to talk about…”
“Thank you for taking the time to come today…”
“I want to give you an update on our project…”
First Words in a presentation should be the easiest part however many report that this is the hardest part. I say it should be the easiest part as it is the only time you can control things: having a full tank of air, the first words, where you are looking, how you are standing, and the expression on your face. But in my experience most people don’t do anything to help themselves.
Here is a video clip of someone who did not take advantage of the opening:
Ms Garrett could have had a great beginning by:
- Focus—starting with a firm stance, facing forward and being still
- First Words—having the first three sentences carefully thought out and delivered
- Engagement—looking at audience, smiling, using vocal energy
For your next opening why not start with something like:
“If there is one thing I want you to take away it is…”
“Today we have a decision to make…”
“As a result of this update I believe you will be in a position to…”
“The last time we met I outlined our objectives for the ABC program, today I’d like to demonstrate how we’ve performed against those objectives.”
Or you can get dramatic: watch this video as an example of ‘hooking’ your audience.
Tips for good openers:
- Use strong action words: Execute, Explain, Describe
- Speak from the listeners perspective: “You asked for” “Your concerns” “Your company”
- Consider your posture and stance: Lean forward if you’re sitting, stand with weight on both legs facing your audience
- Increase your energy–speak a little louder with a bit more intensity
- Make a connection—smile, make eye contact, pause for impact
Beginnings are the easiest, just try it.