Learning how to start a presentation is a creative messy process. The opening of your presentation is still the most important part of any presentation. An example of a speech opener can be a dramatic statement, such as “The Internet is going to affect your business, even if it’s going to put you out of business.” I used that speech opener in the early days of the internet to convey the message: if you don’t change, you’ll fight a war you can’t win. Then, I softened the blow, by telling the audience not to worry too much and presenting them with new strategies.
Another effective speech opener for your presentation is role-play. I’ve coached my clients to use my proven speech opener, “Hollywood model” of character, dialogue and dramatic lesson. In framing their anecdotes, I suggests they tell a story by engaging in role-play, then relating it to a specific message. For example, to convey a lesson in honesty in your presentation, I may cast meeting participants as a father with his two youngsters in front of a movie counter discussing ticket prices. When someone suggests one of the boys can pass for younger and get a discount, the father is asked, “Who will know?” Referring to his son, he replies “He will.”
Public Speaking is More than words
Grabbing an audience is only the first step in public speaking and delivering your presentation. “What’s harder is keeping their attention,” says Jim Hall, Director of Marketing for audiovisual products at Epson America in Long Beach, California.
“We are the technology generation. We expect to be entertained, and the more professional the presenter, the higher that expectation.”
For Hall, the golden rule for effective presentations when you are public speaking is to make sure he knows the audience and finds a subject they care about. He uses a variety of techniques with his presentation when he promotes Epson products to large groups. He maintains eye contact with the audience in his presentations and makes large, theatrical gestures to make a point during his presentation. It’s extra important, he says, to change inflection in your presentation. “If you don’t vary the tone of your voice, even if they are interested in what you’re saying, they’ll go to sleep.”
Take a cue from action movies and “show,” don’t “tell.” Stars such as Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme are in the business of telling a story through movement. “Audiences don’t go to hear what Norris or Van Damme say. They go to see the high-action scenes.
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By Patricia Fripp
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More About Patricia Fripp Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive speech coach, sales presentation skills expert, and author, Patricia Fripp simplifies and demystifies the process of preparing and presenting powerful, persuasive presentations. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance identified her presentation training as one of the best investments you can make in your career. Called “one of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America” by Meetings and Conventions, Patricia delivers high-content, entertaining, dramatically memorable presentations. The first female president of the National Speakers Association, she is now virtually everywhere. Patricia is a Faculty Expert at XTRAcredits as a subject matter expert. Learn essential new skills and accelerate your career while maintaining your professional accreditation.