Share this Page URL

Lesson 8. Create Successful Presentation... > Consider Five Successful Openings - Pg. 34

Create Successful Presentations · Your listener analysis: --What will work best with your audience. · Your material: --What seems most appropriate for the information you're presenting. 34 Opening One: Central Message and Meaning Every presentation should have the central message and the meaning of the message in the open- ing. Sometimes this is all the opening needs, especially if the central message comes as a surprise to your audience. Suppose you were speaking to a group of Wall Street analysts who were expecting fourth-quarter earnings at your company to be down. Instead you told them that earnings were up by 5 percent. That's a startling central message that will certainly grab their attention. Caution Don't be like speakers who spend their time preparing the details of their talks and forget about the opening. Remember that every good talk must be listener-centered. Your listeners want an opening that will knock their socks off. The meaning of the message can also be quite an attention-getter. This is where the audience finds out WIIFM (what's in it for me?--see Lesson 3, "Know Your Listeners," for more on WIIFM). If the benefits are substantial--for example, an increase in pay, more stock options, shorter work hours --your audience is sure to listen to everything you tell them. Opening Two: An Analogy Some presenters like to begin their talks with an analogy. Analogies can be valuable in relating a theoretical concept to something that's familiar and easily understandable to your audience. The more unusual the analogy, the more likely your listeners are to remember it. For example, a series of books has been published over the past few years that take the leadership skills of great historical figures and apply them to the workplace. Among these famous leaders are Attila the Hun and General Ulysses S. Grant. Since most of us might not immediately think of Attila when looking for ideas to guide a modern CEO, the analogy attracts our attention and might even persuade us to buy the book. Tip If you begin your presentation with an analogy, make sure it's an appropriate one that relates to your central message. Then tie the analogy and the message together for your listeners. Opening Three: Voice of Authority Another way to open a presentation is to cite an authority. This may be a quote from the president of your company, some benchmarking information from a survey you conducted of competitors in your field, or it might be some information from a newspaper or magazine article. The more unusual and startling the information is, the greater the impact is likely to be on your listeners. Whatever material you decide to present should also be directly related to your central message. You can present the message first, followed by the quote from the president or a statistic from the article. Or you can reverse the order and begin with the information from your authority. Suppose you are speaking on the importance of a college education in an individual's career. You might begin with an article from The Washington Post that reports that seven years ago a majority of Americans believed that we had too many people with a college degree. But today 75 percent of all adults believe that we should have as many college educated young people as possible.