The first minute after you start speaking is crucial. Your audience wants you to succeed, but they also judge you pretty quickly. So don’t be boring in that first minute!
…say “My name is x and my topic is y. Let’s get started.”
…just read the name of your presentation and go to the next slide
Ask the audience a question: This can be a raising of hands for an informal poll or you can ask individuals to shout out answers. For example, if you are speaking at a conference about how boomers and millennials can communicate better with each other, you could ask how many people have felt that they couldn’t easily get their thoughts across to people in other age groups. This is my favorite technique. (Secret: Engaging the audience in this way will make you feel less nervous, because your audience will become a group of individual people.)
Tell a story: People love a good story, but yours has to be engaging and relevant.
Tell the audience a startling fact or statistic: Pique their curiosity about your topic with a fact they didn’t know.
Engage them right away
The beginning is when your audience is paying attention. Studies have shown that you lose people gradually after that and by 15-20 minutes, many people aren’t paying attention. So don’t lose people with a boring start!
AFTER you’ve engaged people, you can do a more formal introduction to explain:
- Who you are
- Your topic
- Why it’s important to your audience
Hint: Don’t spend a lot of time on who you are. It’s inherently boring to your audience. In many cases, they already know who you are.
Another hint: You can craft a story about an experience you had, how you came to know what you’ll be talking about, that is both interesting and incorporates information about who you are.
Explaining the importance of your topic to your audience is essential. What will they get out of it? This is especially true if you’re doing required training. When your audience hasn’t freely chosen to be there, you need to inspire them to want to be there.
I have another post, called A good introduction/opener, that has more information on this topic.
How do you start a presentation? Do you have any stories about disastrous openers that you witnessed? How about great ones? Leave a comment and please share using the Share buttons below!