Open with a strong statement. Tell the audience, in a few sentences, what your key messages are and what they will learn from you presentation. Your job is to engage the audience immediately, telling them why the investment of their time to listen to your presentation will be worthwhile.
This is how to start differentiating your presentation from the millions of other presentations that open with a weak start. A lot of speakers think that the audience needs to be “warmed-up” or that you need an “ice-breaker” at the start. What does that mean? Why start with a joke or a comment about the weather?
Objectives for the opening of a presentation:
1. Focus the audience on the presenter.
2. Convince the audience that they made the right decision to come to this presentation.
3. Tell the audience how they will benefit from this presentation.
Here is my opening statement: “Every day, more than 40 million PowerPoint presentations are delivered. The majority of these presentations are not as effective as they could be. On the day of your presentation, you can be one of the crowd. Or you can stand out from the crowd by creating and delivering a powerful, effective presentation, where the audience remembers and understands your key messages. I will show you how.”
Memorize Your Opening Statement
Memorize your opening statements. Burn your opening into your memory so that if someone asks you spontaneously to start your presentation you are able to speak your opening without stumbling or pausing. If you start with something like – “Umm, well, my name is … and I am sure glad to be here today”, then you have not really memorized your opening.