Don’t let this happen to you!
How you deliver your opening sets the tone for any presentation. Simply put, if it starts with a boring opener, a boring presentation usually follows. Is there a seminar out there that many presenters have consistently attended called, ’Bore an audience in 30 seconds or less!’ It must be wildly successful as I seem to meet their graduates almost daily. In fact, I’ve observed some presenters that must have graduated at the top of their class.
When I observe presentations it goes like this. At least the first 5 minutes, much less the first 30 seconds is absolute nonsense…let me say it a different way…it’s DRIVEL! Get rid of it.
When I hear a presenter endlessly thanking an audience and saying how great it is to be there. I feel like saying… good for you Presenter, isn’t it wonderful how good you feel. What were you going to tell us today again…I’ve (yawn) already forgotten. Then I often hear a presenter sling what they consider a funny one liner or worse yet a tired and should be forgotten old joke.
Give me a break!
Think you’re funny?…then audition at a comedy club…you may find out you’re the only one who thinks you’re funny!
I’m sure you will have the audience rolling in the aisles. Well, as they stampede toward every available fire exit or worse yet looking for any available food stuffs to fling your way.
Consider what would happen if my 30 second presentation boredom premise became law and the audience had the right to simply stand up and walk out on your presentation, otherwise they would be fined. If that seems too harsh then my personal favorite would be to set up a dunk tank at the front of the room for the presenter…memories of county fairs and carnivals of years gone by. Arm each audience member with an electronic device that tallies votes and then wait for the proverbial big splash. Something tells me that presentation openers would suddenly pick up steam and be compelling, awe inspiring and downright interesting.
Whew…now that I have delivered my presentation rant…let’s get down to business. In the last issue I said I would introduce the concept of developing an ‘Impact Statement’ or words you will say in the first 30 seconds.
Stop right there…the words maybe too late!
A presenter needs to have complete and ultimate audience attention before uttering a single word. The technique I offer is what I call the ‘Audience Settle’. When opening an audience presentation, and when I use the term audience that could be a one on one situation, 5 people around a meeting table or at room front of 100 people table. Pause at the opening, with an internal body count…one thousand one…one thousand two….one thousand three…and then and only then utter your first words. The pause gives the presenter the opportunity to connect with eye contact with an audience as well as building the anticipation of when they will actually speak. The moment to speak is right when it almost feels uncomfortable or awkward as to when or if you utter those carefully chosen words…now you have their undivided attention.
Audiences have had years of presentation boredom training.
Your audience has been successfully trained to expect boring and trite presentation openings. They have witnessed the same dull and mundane presentation openers and crave the unconventional and unexpected. Now’s your chance to give them just that you can win their favour almost instantly in your next presentation.
The Impact Statement – Powerful Presentation Tool
Now that you have their attention…what do you say? It’s very simple at this point. I take you back to the previous Present with Power newsletter…remember the title? ‘SHOT’S FIRED…Presenter Down!’
I was overwhelmed by the response from my readers on my carefully chosen first words. Your comments were clear that the title or ‘Impact statement’ being made demanded an individual to know more. The Impact statement became the basis of a story filled with familiar mental images followed by a series of resolutions. If I were to deliver that article as a presentation to a live audience my first words would be SHOT’S FIRED…Presenter Down!, followed by a pause and then on I go with the rest of the presentation.
The 10 Point Acid Test of the Presentation Opener
Follow this check list for your next presentation and if none apply then you better reschedule that next presentation until you have created a dynamic opening.
Does your presentation opener: (Tip: Use of one or more is appropriate)
1. Have an Impact Statement?
2. Arouse curiosity?
3. Start with a Question?
4. Offer a startling statistic?
5. Challenge a societal norm?
6. Contradict a recognized expression to tradition?
7. Use an analogy?
8. Refer to a case study?
9. Repeat a thematic phrase?
10. Use a one word lead?
The Business or Sales Presentation Quick Study – Impact Statement
Let’s put this into a business or sales presentation environment. Get rid of the first 5 minutes of your current presentation, the one with the long introduction that includes your life story, the tedious and longwinded history of your company or products.
Get right into what the audience is interested in, what will make their world turn faster. If you sell a product or service that increases employee productivity, you could start by saying: Your company maintains that productivity is paramount and your training budget is in place for 2005 and only 25% of your account team is scheduled for training. Until the majority of your team is engaged, your investment won’t pay off. I’m here to show you how my product can help boost productivity closer to the 100% level you demand.
Increase your odds in the Presentation Lottery
I’ll stop it there…this is not meant to be a selling course. This is meant to help you increase your presentation productivity. The quicker you can get to the point. The quicker you can reach you presentation goal. I’m lazy and my goal is to deliver the fewest number of presentations with the highest success rate whatever the presentation environment happens to be. Otherwise you could end up playing what I call the ‘Presentation Lottery’…deliver enough presentations and one of these days you’ll strike it rich…or NOT!
When opening your next presentation picture yourself above the dunk tank. This time make the big splash your audience demands.
No wetsuit required.
Don’t miss out on my Complimentary 2 Part Presentation Mini-Course Online
Richard Peterson, North America’s Presentation Coach™