“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” – Will Rogers
This quote certainly holds true for speeches, presentations, group meetings and any other public speaking opportunity that exists. Your opening often determines just how much of your presentation the audience is going to “tune in” for. If the first impression the audience has is “B-O-R-I-N-G’ there is little chance of the presentation effectively reaching that audience.
I went over four of my favorites – Q-W-I-Q — in a previous post: Quote, ”What if” scenario, “Imagine” scenario or using a Question. These are by no means the only effective ways to open. Here are a few more favorites:
1) Silence - Yes, silence. A pause, whether two seconds or twenty seconds, allows your audience to sit and quiet down. Most audiences expect a speaker to begin immediately – an extra pause brings all attention right where you should want it – on you.
2) A Statistic- Not a boring statistic. A surprising statistic; a powerful statistic; a personalized statistic.
“Look to your left. Now look to your right. One of your seatmates will ___________.”
“In this room, over 90% of us are going to _________.”
3) A Statement – A powerful statement, left to hang with a pause after, is very, very effective. Inspirational locker room speeches often start this way, as do inspirational political speeches (when they occur)
“We cannot win. We can’t win.”
That’s what every newspaper in the country is saying…..
4) A Word (or Phrase) — again, the emphasis is on the word or phrase being compelling.
Conflict (long pause)
Never again (long pause)
Again, these are simply suggestions of other effective techniques to use to open a speech or presentation. Please stay tuned for more tips and techniques, as well as a new feature, the “Messaging Minute”….