During your presentation, you have an opportunity to educate, enlighten, engage and entertain your listeners. To capture their attention in the first few minutes, create an opening that entices their interests and helps them yearn for more. Talk about what matters to them, not to you. It’s all about your audience.
Have you heard a presenter tell a joke to “loosen up” the audience and it falls f-l-a-t? As I mentioned in my previous blog, humor is fabulous if you have the right timing and body language. I heard a presenter tell a 20-year-old joke, or close! Really, and you want the audience to stay with you? The internet is your friend for story lines and ideas, but the jokes get around the world in seconds: be careful.
Your opening sets the stage – so to speak – and the tone of your presentation. DeeTox yourself of long, drawn out openings that say nothing about your topic or gets rolled eyes from the audience. You have approximately 10-15 seconds to captures your audience’s attention; your opening is crucial.
A few openings:
A rhetorical question
A germane quotation
A current event
A startling statistic
The best speeches open with one of the five above and close with it as well. If you tell a story, finish it with a poignant point and substantiate the reason for it in your closing. Same with any of them: your opening and closing are bookends!
Your listeners want to feel something; it’s the visceral part of your presentation that stays with them, not all the data, statistics or chaotic PowerPoint slides. I heard this line in a movie: “Too many facts and not enough flavor loses their interest.” How true. DeeTox the opening humdrum and ignite their hearts and minds instead.
Organize your points to help create momentum and a road map with the magical three points:
1. Problem, cause, solution
2. Past, present, future,
3. Profit, loss, gain
4. Strengths, weaknesses, growths
5. Pros, cons, next steps
These are a few organizational suggestions that help you write a powerful speech: think of stories that will complement the points, cite specifics, give examples, and weave your theme in an engaging and well-thought-out way.
DeeTox a blah closing, “Well, that’s it.” “Thanks.” “I’m done. Any questions?” I know you’ve heard a few. Let the audience know you’re about to end, “Before I close, I have five minutes for questions.” The “before I close” is paramount. Never end on q/a. You want to have the final words: your audiences remember best what they hear last!
In your closing refer to your opening story, quotation, etc., bring it full circle and the punch for its purpose. Give your audiences something to hold on to: a call-to-action, a promise, a challenge, whatever it takes for them to remember your speech and you.
It’s how you make them feel, not how much knowledge you have. It’s all about the audience.
Knock ‘em alive with a professional and powerful opening, body and closing.