As a small business owner, it’s time for you to get up and speak! But what will your audience think about you and what you have to say?
Research indicates that it takes less than a second for your audience to judge you, your personality, and your character. As humourist Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” How exactly will you start off on the right foot?
Your audience’s time is valuable and their attention is volatile. Avoid rambling and cut to the chase.
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist who has the second most-viewed TED Talks video of all time, points out: “You must be able to show them that you understand them—and, better yet, that you can relate to them. If they don’t trust you, your ideas are just dead in the water. Having the best idea is worth nothing if people don’t trust you.”
Whether you’re giving a business presentation to your banker, a sales presentation to prospects, or a motivational talk for your family, use a powerful opening that’s relevant to your audience. Instead of saying, “So what?” your audience should “get it” right away and be eager to hear more. An intriguing hook entices your audience to keep listening.
5 Ideas to Get Started
- Open with a spontaneous remark. This can be an effective way to show that you understand and relate to your audience. Bond with your audience by alluding to something that your audience would appreciate, such as an observation about the location, people they would recognize, or the occasion itself.
- Disclose to the audience that you know what they’re thinking, depending on your bio, presentation title or description, or your most obvious physical characteristics. For example: “I know what you’re thinking. How can a person as skinny as me possibly be a good chef?”
- Your hook could also be a fun fact, a startling statistic, or a provocative challenge. For example: “Here’s something you may not know about the CIA: in the 1960s, they spent $20 million to use cats as spies.”
- Prepared stories could also be a great hook. For example, James Bond movies always start with an action scene that sets the stage for what’s to come. You can do the same thing and start with a compelling story.
- Also, consider using photos that build intrigue, elicit an emotion, or start a story. A compelling image could be an effective way to grab your audience’s attention from the beginning. But it should relate to your topic or message.
You have many techniques to begin your presentation and create a powerful first impression. The previous five will help you get started. Always remember: your goal is to motivate your audience to stay and listen to the rest of your talk!
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