Every presentation begins anew; every interaction is a fresh start. Even at the most basic Monday morning weekly team meeting, it’s still a new day. Folks have had a good (or difficult) weekend; everyone’s starting from a different place. The very best thing you can do as the presenter is to open with fresh energy. Clean slate. Here we go!
Too Much History?
It’s very tempting to open by reviewing the last meeting, the results of last quarter, the last email reference, etc. The problem with this approach is…it’s boring. Historical perspective has a place, of course, but try not to lead with it. Open with a right now feeling of immediacy in the moment, and what you’re driving towards in the future. Then use history for backfill and support, as needed.
Meet Your Audience
where they are, before you dive into your content. Can you read the room (or screens)? Can you gauge the temperature? Have people come in with a specific mindset or bias? Are you already anticipating difficult questions? It can be quite disarming if you openly acknowledge any of the above. Put it right out there on the table. Name it. Honor where people are. Help them feel recognized and heard as a starting point.
Today’s Video: Opening! (1:11)
is the opening of a Keynote speech I gave at a very specific conference of female entrepreneurs. I don’t normally start with lots of thank-you’s, but this was a way to position the whole theme of women-supporting-women in a natural, relaxed way…bonding with the audience, giving credit, sharing goodwill. Key takeaway: this opening is only for this audience.
Help Your Introducer
introduce you. Always verify who will be making the introduction, and provide in advance your very short, customized for the occasion, intro. For in-person events, I also bring with me a printed copy (BIG type font; my name spelled phonetically) which is always appreciated.
You can shape how an audience thinks about you before you even open your mouth! Use that intro to introduce humor, a unique angle, something unusual about you/your background, etc. It’s a terrific way to set the tone. An intro is NOT your bio. Please, please, no.
Open The Gift and Deliver It
When you give a presentation, you are literally giving something to your audience. Wow, nice gift you got there: words, viewpoint, expertise, support! Your audience can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Untie the ribbons, rip open the wrapping paper, your great Opening has begun…
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