Become A Better Presenter – Part 3

By John Shackleton on June 3, 2013 in Blog
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Become A Better Presenter Part 3

In the beginning …………

When you are giving a presentation the first thing that comes out of your mouth will be the most important, as it will set the tone for what comes next and will either grab your audience or inspire them to start checking their text messages!

It’s always best if someone else introduces you and tells the audience a little about your background to give you credibility in the audience’s eyes. Write out what you want your introducer to tell the audience and ask them to read it out loud.

Because we are at our most nervous at the beginning of a speech this is where we are most likely to mess up. Always learn your opening section off by heart so that you can stay calm when full of fear.  

Consider one of the following suggestions to make an impact from the start.

  • Start with a rhetorical question.  If you ask someone a question then they will automatically start mulling answers over in their mind, and you have instantly involved them in what you are saying. Make sure the question doesn’t require the audience to answer out loud as this is likely to throw you off your game.
  • Start with a ‘what if’ scenario which, again, will immediately get them thinking and draw them in.
  • Similarly ask them to imagine something – an outcome, a journey – so that they begin to use visualisation and become involved.
  • Start with a joke (if you are good at telling jokes). Make sure that it has some measure of relevance to what you are about to speak about, and that it isn’t crude or offensive in any way.  An audience that laughs in the first minute or two will be on your side for the next hour.
  • Start with a quotation – again, with a degree of relevance, and with a degree of humour.
  • Start with an anecdote or true story, something that happened to you, or something that happened to someone else, but should be either funny or emotive to make the audience either laugh or connect on an emotional level with you.
  • Start with a statistic if it is relevant – choose one carefully (people will check up on you!) or make one up of your own, something that is so outrageous it is clearly a joke, and makes the audience laugh.  Here’s an example: “Did you know that 97% of all presenters start their speech with a statistic that they made up?”
  • Hold up an object – ask the audience to guess what it is. After a few guesses tell them briefly and make sure the explanation is either relevant or amusing.
  • Start with a visual – a photo, a picture or YouTube video, something that will be visually appealing and attention grabbing.

Remember your audience will have made a judgement about you and what you might be about to tell them in the first sixty seconds they have you standing in front of them so first opinions need be positive or you will be facing an uphill struggle to regain their attention and deliver your message.

And at the end ………

The ‘call to action’ at the end of your presentation is just as important as the opening section. This will be the thing on their mind as they leave the room and often it will be the thing they remember you by.

When preparing the presentation you should start with an objective and the call to action at the end is designed to ensure that you achieve that objective. It’s there to ensure your audience do something as a result of what you’ve said rather than just leave and get on with their lives.

  • If your objective is to get the audience to buy your product, your call to action will be to ask them to fill out the application form immediately
  • If your objective if to capture the audiences details, your call to action would be to tell them that you’ll send them a paper on the topic you’ve been talking about if they hand you their business card.
  • If your objective if for them to change their activity from action A to action B then your call to action should be to ask them to commit with a show of hands to the new course of action

If you leave people without a call to action at the end of a presentation it won’t matter what you’ve said in the middle, most of them will take the path of least resistance and do nothing.

In the next section we’ll discuss how to use your VOICE to greatest effect

 For more information about John’s one day POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS course click here