Your speech opener determines a lot about your presentation.
The audience uses your first words as a tool to judge you and your presentation.
Are you confident? Do you project credibility? Do they trust you? Do they want to listen?
Will this be a standard, everyday presentation where everyone can just switch off?
The answers will primarily come to the audience based on how you carry yourself and what your visual communication projects about you.
The answers will also come from what you say to open your presentation.
Typically, the standard opening to a presentation will elicit the standard response from your audience: bed time!
The key to opening an engaging presentation is to open with the action already in progress.
Think of it a little like reading an adult fiction book. If you’re in a book store (or on Amazon) and check out the first page of a book only to see, “Once upon a time…” you’ll put it down and keep looking. There’s no action, so there’s nothing to draw you into the story. There’s nothing to engage you.
On the other hand, read the first few sentences and discover you’re in the middle of bank robbery. Maybe you’re not clear what’s going on, but it sounds like someone has just found themselves in a compromising situation. Whatever it is, the first few sentences give you a reason to keep reading. Those sentences make you want to pay attention.
Opening your speech with action: 3 Openers
You don’t need to open your next presentation with a car chase, but you should try to engage your audience through some kind of action. You need to show the audience something is happening, rather than just opening with pleasantries. Give them a reason to listen.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can open a business presentation.
“Let’s talk about that system we’re all frustrated by and what solutions we have in store.”
“Imagine you find yourself in the same position as me. You want to get your work done but you’re constantly interrupted…”
“If you don’t take these steps you potentially miss out on your bonus this year.”
Don’t do this
“Good morning. I’m Bobby from the marketing department. Today I’d like to talk to you about…”
If you’ve got an audience you need to engage don’t start with something like that. Start like a good book instead of the boring “Once upon a time”.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below…