How should I open my presentation?

Your opening is an important part of getting your audience to listen to you in a positive frame of mind. Essentially, the audience needs to know what they are going to hear and why that’s important and why you are the speaker.

There are no hard and fast rules around openings. You can do whatever you want to get your point across. Logically, it makes sense to include (not necessarily in this order): a greeting; an introduction to you; an introduction to your talk; how long it’ll be and whether there will be a chance to ask questions.

A formal opening might sound like this: “Good afternoon, my name is Walter Blackburn, founder of Presenting Success. Today I’m going to be speaking on the importance of good presentation skills. Wherever you are in business today there is a chance that you will be asked to make a presentation – perhaps to senior colleagues. In fact your future could depend on how well you can do that. Today I want to share with you how easy it can be to develop your presentation skills and in doing so developing your confidence and leadership skills.”

Or you could choose to make more of an impact using an approach called KICK. This stands for Key message, Importance, Credibility and Keep them interested by telling them what they’re going to hear.

For example, I might change the opening above in this way: (Key message) “Becoming a good presenter could be a vital part of your career development. (Importance) Wherever you are in your business, almost certainly at some point in your career you will be asked to present to a group, maybe of senior people. If you fail to do this well it may well affect your career adversely. (Credibility) My name is Walter Blackburn – I’m founder of Presenting Success and I have taught thousands of people how to present well. (Keep them interested by telling them what’s coming next) This afternoon I want to share with you some of the presentation secrets used by great presenters and show you how easily you, too, can become a great presenter. I’ll be speaking for about 15 minutes then there’ll be a chance for questions.”

There are many other ways of opening a presentation – using objects or stories or by asking a challenging question, or by making a challenging statement.

However you choose to open your presentation you must practice saying it, out loud, until you can say it with energy without looking at your notes or slides.

Then you’ll get off to a great start!

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