presenting - the first 30 seconds

Most people who speak with any level of experience or authority on presentation skills will always tell you that the first thing you need to do is to grab your audience’s attention. That sounds like good advice and of course it is, although it’s worth exploring this a little further.

I believe it’s quite rare that in the very moment you stand in front of your audience you don’t already have their attention. In fact, in my experience (with the odd exception from time to time) that’s the very moment you do have their undivided attention.

That’s why the first 30 seconds of your presentation are the most critical.  Time and creative energy spent in getting your opening right will make the world of difference in greatly increasing your chances of getting you the result you want.

Here are some ideas on how you can make the most of those precious moments:

Use their imagination

'Imagine you could improve customer loyalty by 30% in the next 12 months, what would your customers be saying about you.'

Create an impact using numbers or facts

Studies suggest that when someone is presenting, 90% of what they say will be forgotten within 60 minutes.

'I have an idea you will want to remember for some time.'

Ask a question

'How many presentations have you listened to in the last year which has made a tangible difference to your business?'

'My promise to you is that today’s will!'

Share a personal and relevant story

'Returning home on my flight from Japan last week….'

Have them write something down

'There are 3 leadership attributes that every employee in every industry across every sector wants to see - honesty, forward-thinking and authenticity'.

These are just a handful of really useful ideas that work. The trick is to say or do something which is a little unexpected. Don’t be traditional and stick to the usual opening and remember that it’s vital that you put the same attention and energy into creating a memorable close to your presentation too.


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