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3 Ways Not to Start Your Presentation

Gilda Bonanno

3 Ways Not to Start Your Presentation

The first few minutes of your presentation are some of the most important – when you have the opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the audience’s attention. In those crucial few minutes, the audience will decide whether what you have to say is worth listening to.

Here are 3 ways NOT to start your presentation:

1. Endless Thank yous

“Thanks for having me here. Thanks to Joe for inviting me and to Mary for handling all the logistics. And thanks to the meeting committee – Harry, Rajiv, Bill and Jeannie – for their cooperation. And thanks to the hotel for hosting us today in this very nice room. And thanks to the meeting sponsor for their support of the meeting today. And thanks to all of you for attending. “

It’s fine if you want to thank your hosts and the audience, but don’t spend too much time on it. If you have a long list of people to thank, incorporate it into the body of your presentation, include it in your handout or mention it at the end of your presentation, before your conclusion.

2. Sound Check

“Can you hear me in the back?”

While it’s crucial to ensure the audience can hear you, the start of your presentation is not necessarily the time to do it. If you’re truly concerned about voice volume, practice in the room before your presentation and have someone stand at the back of the room to determine if they can hear you.

If you know you speak softly, then request a microphone and if one is not available, make a point of speaking louder.

If you’re still worried about your volume, have the meeting organizer stand at the back of the room and give you a signal to let you know if you can be heard easily.

(And by the way, if people can’t hear you, they also can’t hear you ask, “can you hear me?”)

3. I’m Bored Already

“I know this is a boring topic, so I’ll try my best not to put you to sleep.”

If you can’t muster up enough enthusiasm about your topic to start on a positive and energetic note, there’s no hope that the audience will care about your topic.

While it may be true that the audience doesn’t initially find your topic as interesting as you do, it’s your responsibility to explain why it’s important and interesting.

Your enthusiasm is contagious – as is your lack of enthusiasm. I’ve seen speakers successfully convey enthusiasm and capture the attention and imagination of audience members who might have otherwise been bored by the topics, such as finance, physics and economics.

Instead of wasting precious time at the start of your presentation, you can jump right into your content with a strong statement of your message, a startling statistic, an interesting fact or a relevant story. A strong opening will help you capture the audience’s attention and draw them into your topic so they will pay attention to what you have to say.

Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.

Copyright (c) 2011

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