This is one of the most common questions I get asked. The first nine minutes in front of an audience can be scary. This is the time when your knees shake, your voice wobbles, and your energy level is all over the board. To your audience, you can seem like a loose cannon or a person who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.
The reality is that you shouldn’t waste nine minutes warming up for an audience. You need to be able to attract attention immediately, and then you need to be able to give facts and information that holds their attention during your presentation.
There are many ways you can attract the audience’s attention. First you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I know about this audience? This will help you to prepare an opening that best fits what the audiences needs.
- What do I know about their needs or problems that they face? Focus on them, not you.
- How can I make sure that my opener will tie directly into my subject matter?
Gone are the days when you could start with a joke or an icebreaker. They don’t align with what you are there to discuss. Remember your audience has busy lives. You want to make them think and ponder, but you certainly don’t want them saying, “I don’t understand why you even started that way, and where are you going with it?”
Make sure, if you don’t know your audience already, that you take the time to introduce yourself and to briefly chat with people in the room PRIOR to the start of your presentation.
The opening of your presentation is not the time for you to warm up, it is the time to get your audience to warm up to you.
FREE HOT TIP—Want to know some clever openings? Go to http://www.impressionmanagement.com/online/resources/imp-hot-tips, and scroll to CLEVER OPENINGS in the H.O.T. Tips.