With first impressions taking just 1/10th of a second to form, the opening line of your presentation is crucial to your success as a presenter. This is the hook for your presentation and the piece that will help your audience decide whether you are worth listening to or not. Why then do we so often start our presentations with lines like “Good evening. My name is _________ and today I’m going to talk about ________.”
Nothing says boring college lecture quite like the above statement.
With the statistics clear, we have to find a better way to open our presentations and draw in the attention of our audience, and I have found three sure-fire ways to do just that and they are as simple as using your Voice, your Vision, and your Visual.
Control your VOICE.
When it comes time to open your presentation, a big mistake I see newer presenters do is not use their voice to draw people in. They fall victim to a lack of vocal variety and begin to sound more like the teacher in Charlie Brown than an engaging speaker. However, if we can learn to harness our voice right out of the gate, I promise your audience will feel more connected and engaged than you ever expected.
For starters, try opening your presentation with contrasting volumes. Start loud and commanding by using your volume and tone to catch the attention of your audience and make them listen. Then lower your voice to a quiet empathetic volume helping them to settle into their seats and connect in for the long haul. In some cases, you may reverse this starting quietly and moving louder. Whatever your situation, use contrast to help your audience see the value in what you are about to share.
Deliver your VISION.
Any time I sit down to listen to a speaker, the thing I am most looking for is their vision. When I say vision, I am talking about the reason they are the one standing up and presenting, not me; it’s the information or passion that they are looking to communicate. Vision is what people follow, not words or information, so lead with that vision. Let your audience know why you are there and why it’s worth their time to listen to you.
A great way to ensure you clearly communicate your vision is by writing it out ahead of time. Whether or not you will say it exactly how you write it is beside the point, but by putting it down on paper you are forcing yourself to articulate what is most likely so clear in your head. Then when it comes time to share use your vision as a way to stoke passion in you and your audience. When people feel and see passion, they know it is something worth their time and will invest in focusing on your every word.
Use a VISUAL.
Did you know that a compelling visual increases information retention by 47%? That statistic is so important, yet we so often miss it. When it comes to your opening line, a great visual can help cement your material right out of the gate into the memory of your audience. That visual will stick with them long after you have stopped presenting and serve as a benchmark when they are trying to remember what you shared.
Use a visual that embodies what you are about to share. Don’t just settle for a picture of you and your family. Instead, find a picture of you and your family that speaks to your information. By doing this, you will kill two birds with one stone as you build the rapport of being a likable person and mix in the retention that comes from a compelling visual.
Opening your presentation can be difficult, and sometimes extremely stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking the time to focus on and prepare your opener will greatly increase your performance and ensure you draw in and engage your entire audience.
If you are looking to learn more about who you are as a presenter and how to leverage these three V’s check out our proprietary, free Badge assessment today.
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