In the last blog, we learned that there’s more to the opening of your presentation than the opening of your presentation. When you maximize the time between when you’re introduced as a speaker and when you get into the meat of your message, you are able to more fully engage with your audience and ensure that you are someone they will want to hear more from.
Let’s look at a few more hints on maximizing this crucial time.
Respond to the audience’s attitude.
This effective technique piques the attention and interest of your audience and shows your candidness and understanding of their thoughts and concerns. “I know I’m not addressing an unbiased group on this subject, and I appreciate your willingness to hear a few of my views that may run counter to some of yours. My hope is that we can come to some middle ground of understanding.”
Refer to something mentioned earlier in the program.
Picking up on something previously discussed means you’re an engaged listener, you’ve been paying attention, you share a concern, and you want to come together with them and solve the issue. “I understand from comments earlier that you’re undergoing some fundamental changes in your marketing strategy and I know change isn’t fun for anyone. I’ve got good news for you: The heart of my message is on change management and how generating buy-in may be the most important component to success in adopting any new initiative.”
Reflect on why you were selected as the presenter.
This opening stirs any audience’s curiosity and shows your understanding of the uniqueness and possible complexity of the issue. “I’m not quite sure why Jennifer asked me to present these ideas when so many of you are equally qualified in so many other facets of this issue. Perhaps she just wanted a Millennial’s view of things, which tends to focus on how this issue is affected by social media as well as other concerns of this increasingly more influential demographic.”
Recognize someone in the audience.
The challenge here is to be complimentary without kissing up, and people can tell the difference. With sincerity and gratitude, you can win a lot of respect by a simple acknowledgement, such as, “Before beginning, I want to thank our public relations director, Joan Public, for being here tonight to lend her support. Her active involvement has been essential in organizing this movement and seeing it through to completion. In short, she made sure it got done.”
Express your pleasure at being the presenter.
Walking that thin line between being qualified and competent while still being humble and appreciative is something you can only communicate effectively if you mean it. Don’t fake it. But don’t resist the opportunity either, if it’s appropriate. Letting people know you’re glad and eager to address them will draw them to you. “I want you to know how much I’ve looked forward to addressing you tonight. Many of you are old friends who’ve made me look very good through the years, and I hope I can deliver some wisdom and advice today that will be beneficial to you.”
Though seemingly insignificant, off-the-cuff, or even incidental, delivering a heartfelt comment that resonates with your audience, identifies you as one of them, and illustrates areas of common interest will enable you not only to connect with your listeners but build the credibility and trust that you need to get your message across and your ideas adopted.
Look for ways you can use these opening remarks of your presentation before your opening remarks of your presentation and see how it involves your audience and warms them up for what’s to come.