Hello all. This is the first in a series of posts intended to provide tips and strategies on dynamic, powerful and memorable presentations or conversations.
The first thing I want to talk about is your opening. Most people start with “Hello, thank you for asking me to talk with you today”, or “Thank you to so and so for inviting me.”, etc., etc. Sorry, but that’s not the best way to capture your audience. That is what they are expecting, and when they hear it, they are already on the road to tuning you out. The quicker you lead them down that path, the harder it is to get them back.
So don’t do it. You can thank them later on, but don’t open with it. Start with a story or an anecdote. Use a statistic or a quotation. Ask a question. For example; if you are speaking to an individual or a group about financing their children’s education, you might want to start out with the statistic “The average non-tuition cost of education is $23,000 a year.” After you drop that bomb, just pause for a few moments and let that sink in.
When I am speaking about the importance of communication, I often use a quotation from George Bernard Shaw “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has occurred.” This never fails to make people think.
A great question that many professionals could start off with would be “What would be your dream job?”
Finally, let’s say you are going to urge an audience, or your employees to be more honest in their business dealings. You could open with the story about the farmer and the baker. “A baker in a little country town bought the butter he used from a nearby farmer. One day he suspected that the bricks of butter were not full pounds, and for several days he weighed them. He was right. They were short weight, and he had the farmer arrested. At the trial the judge said to the farmer, “I presume you have scales?” “No, your honor.” “Then how do you manage to weigh the butter you sell?” inquired the judge. The farmer replied, “That’s easily explained, your honor. I have balances and for a weight I use a one-pound loaf I buy from the baker.”
That’s it for today. Remember, a memorable, strong opening with grab everyone’s attention right of the box. After that, it’s up to you!