Do you remember the movie Gone in 60 Seconds? Even if you remember it as a bad movie, it’s a good reminder about how quickly we can lose our audience.
The first 30-60 seconds of our presentations, speeches or reports are always the hardest part. Physiologically, it’s when our hearts are beating harder, maybe our palms are sweating, and our minds are racing. As a result of this nervousness, we often end up doing a canned intro. Unfortunately, the best opportunity to lose your audience is also in that first 30-60 seconds.
When was the last time you started a presentation like this:
“Hello. My name is Ben, and I’m honored to be here. Organization X is a really great one, and I love City Y, and you must love working here. I know I would love working here.”
That’s fluff. You’ve already lost them. They already know your name; they know where they work; they know the subject of the meeting.
Instead, your job is to grab their attention. One of the tools we use to start is a SHARP, and then we advise quickly moving right into the core of your message. As our partners Chip and Dan Heath say, don’t parachute in – skydive.
Here are a few ways to dive right in:
- Share the results of a quick study. For example, “Small businesses waste 25% of their pay-per-click advertising budgets unnecessarily. That’s like having a 4-cylinder car and only using 3 of the cylinders.”
- Begin with a story. Tell a story to describe the regular frustration of having separate processes, passwords, emails and hard copies before sharing an efficiency solution. It can be any story. Ideally, it’s personal (it could be as recent as something that happened to you that morning), and it should somehow relate to your talk.
- Start by asking a question. Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton begins her presentation by asking, “How many of you surf?” Get the audience to connect with you and participate right away.
We all have great ideas to share. It’s unfortunate when we allow ourselves to lose the audience in a lengthy set-up.
For your next presentation – whether during your sales kickoff, at a client site, or in your boss’s office – make a fresh start. It’ll help when the nerves are the highest – you’ll see.
Remember, green means go.