A Formula on How to Start Your Next Speech or Presentation

A common question I get from my clients is “how do I start my presentation?”

A lot of time and energy is spent focusing on this problem, and yet it has a very easy solution. You don’t have to start with a joke, and you don’t have to be wildly provocative.

All you have to do is one thing: focus on saying one thing interesting to your audience, And don’t bore people with needless details about yourself, i.e., your name, the name of your presentation, the fact that you’re happy to be there today, that you enjoyed the nice introduction, etc. 

One thing that all great TED Talks have in common is that the speakers begin their presentations with an interesting opening. If you want to see specific examples of this, I’ve made an in-depth YouTube video, analyzing the top TED talkers of all times on exactly how they start their presentations. Check it out here.

What gets most professionals in trouble is the fear that they won’t seem legitimate to the audience unless they spend a bunch of time at the beginning of their presentation establishing their credentials. This is boring, and it doesn’t work.

If you are an executive or a professional, especially if you are aspiring to be seen as a stronger leader, the fastest and easiest way to establish credibility with your audience is to quickly deliver some valuable idea for them. And to do it in an interesting and memorable manner.

This is extremely easy to do, and most executives do it quite well when they are asked a specific question, often at the end of a presentation. The problem is, if you were boring at the beginning of your presentation, and throughout your presentation, nobody is listening to you during that question-and-answer session.  They’ve all fallen asleep or become engrossed in text messages on their cell phone.

If you absolutely, positively feel you must establish your credibility by going over your credentials and being polite to people by thanking members of the audience, and all of the other things people normally go through at the beginning of their presentation as if they were housekeeping matters, you can still do so.

Just don’t do any of that in the first 30 to 60 seconds!

Wait until you’ve delivered real value to the audience first, then you can make them want to learn more about you. You can deliver all the housekeeping matters in the middle of your presentation, or even near the end of your presentation.

Nobody will mind that you didn’t start with that stuff.

In our modern era of everyone frying their attention spans by staring at Tik Tok and other short form video 24/7, you as a speaker just do not have the luxury of having a slow build-up in your presentation. If you are boring in the first 30 seconds, everyone has a second option for their attention at their fingertips.

You are going to lose out to your audience members cell phones quickly, if you do not start your presentation the right way.

By the way, if you want more help on how to start your presentations, please go to my new free training course at www.highstakespresenter.com .

There may be times when you can’t rehearse your entire presentation on video, even though that’s what I recommend. But there’s really no excuse not to rehearse your first minute on video and then to look at it. And then to redo it once or twice, not so that you’ll memorize it, but so that you can have confidence that you are really starting off by saying something truly interesting to your audience.

Join me LIVE this week on YouTube for a Question and Answer Session. Ask me anything related to communication and presentation training skills at 10:45 AM Eastern Time, Thursday September 28, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/mediatraining

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