The function of the opening is to grab the audience’s attention, clearly convey the basic message, outline the agenda and points that will supports the message.
The appropriate degree of the “grab’ will vary depending on the occasion and audience.
Here are four types of grabbers to consider for your next presentation:
- The Bottom Line: When presenting to a Board of Directors, or decision making body, skip most of the fluff and start with a clear bottom line of the presentation. Think about the GPS in the car; start with your destination and then fill in the route for getting there.
- The Anecdote: Almost any anecdote such as a personal story with or smile or “ah-ha” – can do the job. The story can pull an audience in, especially among peers. While humor is good bonding materials, which makes it a valuable ingredient in openings, avoid jokes because even experienced comedians fall flat on their face at least 30% of the time.
- The Prop: At a recent presentation about diabetes, the presenting physician opened her presentation with an old medicine bottle with a skull and cross bones in her hand. The opening statement was, “We’ve come a long way in treating diabetes. Drugs are much safer than they were decades ago. There is now a treatment option for Type II diabetes with an impressive safety profile that I want you to consider…” The prop helped draw the audience into her lecture.
- Use the news: When you start with a reference to a newspaper, magazine or on-line article, it immediately grabs the audience. If the attendees have seen the article, they will start making connections to what you are about to say. If they haven’t seen it yet, but you provide a link, when the attendee clicks on the link later in the day, he or she will remember more of your presentation.