It was supposed to be a simple task:
Start my presentation without telling the audience who I am.
I don’t NEED to start with the words ‘thanks for inviting me’ or by explaining how happy I am to be here.
It shouldn’t be hard.
I’ve watched hundreds of TED talks and I know what a captivating start to a presentation looks like.
I must grab their attention.
I must make them like me at the beginning.
But I’ve never done it before.
I’ve never launched right into the presentation.
I’ve always started with a thank you, or a summary of who I am.
The audience needs to know I’ve got the expertise to talk about my topic. If I don’t do this, they won’t trust me.
The best presentations start with a bang.
But I’ve always had a title slide. And years of medical school, and hospital teaching taught me that’s where you begin.
I kid you not, for YEARS I couldn’t help myself.
And I know that 90% of the people I coach for their presentations have the same problem.
People are horrified at the idea of NOT INTRODUCING THEMSELVES to the audience.
But if you start your presentation with impact then your audience is more like to pay attention.
Here are 5 simple ways to start your presentation:
- A joke
- A story
- A quote
- A statistic
- A question for them to ask themselves
And don’t take my word for it, here are 3 of the opening lines from the most popular TED talks.
“The human voice. It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world.”
“I wanna start by offering you a free, no-tech life hack. And all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for 2 minutes.”
“I would like to start with testicles. Men who sleep 5 hours at night have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 hours or more.”
None of them start by explaining who they are.
And here’s the truth about your audience.
They don’t care who you are.
They care about what you can do for them.
And if they really care about who you are…
…they can read the freaking program.
Or Google you.
Don’t waste precious stage time by taking them through your CV.
When you do this, 60% of them will be checking their emails by the time you get going.
And it’s the most common problem I see with people I coach.
You see, we are nervous.
We want to prove our expertise to the audience.
We want to share:
- where we work
- what qualifications we have
- and how happy we are to have been invited to speak.
But here’s the thing.
The best way to get your audience’s attention from the beginning?
Ditch all of that.
Get stuck in right away.
It took me years to learn this lesson.