Monday, November 12, 2007

Presentation Skills: Start With Something Interesting

Adapted from Wilder’s Presentations.

How do you begin your presentations? With your needs or the needs of your audience?

There is one guaranteed way to turn off an audience right from the start - by reading your agenda.

Here are five possible better ways to start:
  1. Discuss three benefits the audience will receive by listening to you. "When you leave today you will have three things. First, you will go from frustration to ease of use with this program. Second, you will go from spending hours attempting to set up a meeting to just minutes. Third, you'll have more time to do your real work."
  2. Start with the three key messages you want your audience to remember and tell others. "Many of you here are not convinced that preventive healthcare should be taken seriously. I'm here to tell you that preventive health saves lives, reduces cost of care, and most importantly, enables people to live healthier, happier, and more productive lives."
  3. Provide a high-level summary of your talk. "Today we are looking at Project Talk. Right now the beta test shows some bugs in the system, and our desired outcome is to start advertising in six months. We looked at several strategies to reach that outcome, and concluded that we have to put more resources into moving Project Talk forward faster. Let me show you the rationale for this decision."
  4. A startling quotation or statistic: "In the 30 minutes it will take me to deliver this presentation, six children will die from hunger.”
  5. A story that summarizes the main point of your talk. “Twenty years ago, my friend Bob was homeless. He ate out of dumpsters and was always on the lookout for things he could steal and pawn…”
Make the start interesting and you will have the audience's attention for at least the first few minutes. After that, it's up to you to keep it.

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