As a presenter or public speaker, the first minute of your remarks is the most important. It’s the time to grab your audience’s attention, establish credibility, and let them know what to expect. Your introduction is one of the most critical elements of your talk and it can literally make or break your presentation. Experienced speakers know that a well-crafted opening is worth its weight in gold. How can you make your opening remarks stand out from the crowd? Try these three strategies below.
Get the Audience’s Attention
Say something interesting right away. Don’t waste time focusing on housekeeping details, off-color jokes or even your name; instead get the audience’s attention immediately. Here are a few speaker strategies that can help:
- Share a compelling statistic.
Statistics that point out an important issue help you captivate audience attention. They make an impact and persuade the audience to listen. Statistics can also help people understand the magnitude of the problem or opportunity at hand.
- Provide a powerful quote.
Think about some of the great leaders of the world and see if there is a quote that relates to your topic. There are some amazing quotes that are compelling and speak to an audience. Choose a quote that is relevant to your topic and provides meaning about what you are going to say.
- Make an outrageous statement.
A good hook is one that gets the audience engaged and makes them want to hear more. You can make an outrageous or provocative claim such as, “Everyone in this room has one thing in common…we are all dying.” While you may not agree with the comment, it certainly engages the audience and gets them to listen to your next remarks.
Weave a Compelling Story
Now that you have your audience’s attention, make your intro even more compelling by sharing a real-life story. Storytelling is an extremely compelling tool for a public speaker. Most people are interested in the experiences of others; and want to learn about humankind. Stories teach us lessons and remind us of our own lives. You can tell a personal story that will give audience an idea of your own experience with the topic. You can also share a story about a third party to convey a point. Storytelling is a powerful way to captivate listeners and convey a message about your topic.
Use Props or Visual Aids
We are all familiar with the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s because images grab our interest, create imagery and evoke emotions. They are also wonderful tools to make an important point. You can use a short video clip or series of images. You can also use a prop such as a shovel, clock, arm-chair or shopping bag – as long as you can tie it to your topic. I have seen speakers use sneakers, back-packs and chewing gum to connect stories and inject humor into their remarks. Think about what props could be symbolic to your story-line and weave them into your next presentation.
Making use of all of these devices will not only help you create a compelling introduction but will allow you to entertain people throughout your remarks. And that’s a great way to create a compelling presentation.