Legendary marketer David Ogilvy once said, “When you advertise fire extinguishers, open with the fire.” It’s good advice for business presenters.
Captivate your listeners from the first seconds of your talk. For example, tell a succinct story that’s suspenseful and leads to a cliffhanger. Then use your conclusion to reveal the ending.
To organize the first minute of your speech, prepare in threes:
1. Establish credibility. Even if someone introduces you, don’t assume the audience paid attention. You need to show why you’re an authority.
Rather than repeat your bio, use phrases such as, “From my 10 years of experience researching this subject, I’ve found that….” Or say, “If there’s anything I’ve learned after doing this for 300 clients, it’s that….”
2. Grab attention. If you can’t think of a concise, captivating story, you can still “open with the fire” by citing a recent news headline, holding up a prop or posing a riddle that has vexed experts.
Other attention-grabbing tactics include sharing “three little known facts about our business,” or creating a fun, quick quiz for the group.
3. Provide an overview of what you’ll cover. Round out your introduction by giving a one-sentence overview of how you’ve structured your remarks.
Examples include, “Let’s approach this topic by examining what’s going wrong, what’s going right and what’s at stake” or “In the next few minutes, we’ll evaluate past efforts, confront present challenges and weigh future outcomes.”
— Adapted from Well Said!, Darlene Price, AMACOM.
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