No matter what you do in your presentation the first 2 seconds are what sticks in your audience’s mind.
There are many aspects of your presentation that will make an impact on the audience. These can be:
- Body language
- Eye contact
- Vocal emphasis
- Slide design
- Question handling
None of the above will have much impact on the audience unless you use your first 2 seconds wisely.
Why the first 2 seconds matters
The first 2 seconds is the part where the audience is making a decision.
They are deciding if your talk is a presentation they are going to listen to or not.
Will your presentation be interesting? Will the topic be delivered in a way the audience wants to watch?
Will your presentation be more of the same tired old stuff? Reams of bullet points, read to the audience in a dull voice.
Of course, they are expecting it to be boring. Years of being stuck in awful business presentations have prepped them for the inevitable.
It takes the audience mere seconds to evaluate you!
What you can do in the first 2 seconds
To engage your audience in the first 2 seconds you don’t need slides and you don’t need to be super-confident.
You just need to capture their attention.
Capture their attention with these steps:
- Turn off the slides
- Start asking a question related to your topic (not rhetorical)
- Walk to the center of the room while asking the question
- Wait for a response and relate the response to your presentation
What you have done here is:
- Engaged the audience
- Interacted with the audience
- Made the audience feel your presentation will be different and interesting
Let’s say your presentation topic is the new dress code.
Previously the dress code was a little ambiguous and this resulted in staff receiving warnings.
The new dress code is being introduced to resolve some confusion there has been about what kind of shirts office staff can wear.
It’s a pretty boring presentation topic, but let’s use our first 2 seconds wisely:
- Turn off your slides
- Start by walking from the side of the stage to the center of the room
- As you are walking, ask “Who has found themselves confused about the office dress code?”
- Stop and wait for hands to raise
- Ask a raised hand to briefly share experience
- Transition into your presentation by explaining this experience will no longer be a problem with the clear policy you are about to introduce
Forget trying to dolly-up your slides.
Focus on what you are going to do in the first 2 seconds of your presentation.