This is the first episode of a new series I am starting here… It is called Quora Question of the day.
If you don’t know Quora… it’s a social platform where you can put up your questions and they will be answered by the community. You can find all the questions, that I have answered in the past on https://www.quora.com/profile/Michael-Sinnhuber Read more
Interview on the Inspired Selling Podcast by Dylis Guyan
Very proud to have been interviewed by the International Sales and Marketing Leader, Coach and Speaker, Dylis Guyan on her “Inspired Selling Podcast”.
If you want to convince your audience to take action, you better know how to start a persuasive speech, or else you will loose right at the start. The first 10 to 20 seconds of your presentation is the time when you have the most attention. Use this time wisely with awesome presentation openers.
Time to Overthink your Presentation Openers
If you don’t capture your audience’s attention right away you’ve probably lost it forever. Chances are that after the first 60 seconds (at the latest) people’s thoughts will drift off to thoughts like: “What am I gonna have for lunch today?”, “Has my daughter done her homework?”, “Where did I put my phone?”
You get the point: you need to hook up your audience from the moment you enter the stage or stand up to give a short talk. Time to think about a presentation opener that will blow them away.
Start before you say the first word
Don’t think of your presentation opener only as the actual words you’re gonna say. Your opener starts before you even open your mouth: it’s the way you enter the stage, the way you smile at the audience, the way you’re dressed, your voice and body language. So prepare yourself, stand tall, smile, be enthusiastic!
Don’t start by introducing yourself
In case you’re asking yourself whether you should introduce yourself first: the answer is no. At least not in the traditional way. Chances are your audience already knows who you are; either they are working with you, they read your name on the speakers list or heard you being introduced by a moderator. Remember that your presentation should always be about the audience – not about you. Don’t waste the critical first seconds introducing yourself.
Hi, my name is Bob, I have 22 years working experience in the field of Presentation Coachings and am currently writing a book on Powerpoint and today I will talk about the history of stuttering. I have worked with many people in this field and I have learnt that (…) blablablabla
Wanna know a guaranteed way of boring your audience to death the moment you open your mouth? This is it. Have you ever heard Steve Jobs open his presentation with “Hi my name is Steve”? Chances are you haven’t. Not only because the world knew who he is anyways – also, because it’s just a bad opener. Why? People wanna know what’s in for them. They are far less interested in you as you might think.
You are not as interesting as you think
Your presentation should be about your audience and what they can take away from it. So if you have to introduce yourself: do it in the context of your presentation and do it only after you’ve hooked the audience up.
How to start a persuasive speech or presentation? Hook them up!
So coming to the point: You need to capture your audience’s attention right away. How can you do this? Here are our favorite tactics:
Surprise/ Shock: Shocking or surprising your audience with statistics or facts is a great way of getting their attention. As said before: give them the most interesting piece of information right away. You can still explain it later.
$3 Mio (Pause) This is the value of sales we have forgone last year” is a much better opener than “Today we’re going to discuss last year’s sales figures”. “The world’s richest 1 percent is now wealthier than the rest of humanity combined” will shock people rather than “Today we’re gonna talk about income inequality.
Story: We all love stories and engaging people with a surprising or funny anecdote is one of the best ways to get your point across. Take Steve Job’s famous commencement speech at Stanford as an example:
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. (…)
It’s surprising, confusing and it makes people curious. He’s taking his audience on a journey.
Humor: Make the audience laugh and they’ll love you. Humor is one of the best presentation openers ever (if used correctly). There are few things that make us connect to another person as easily as by laughing together. But be careful: make sure your joke fits the context.
Engage your audience right away by asking them questions. Look at the first paragraph of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk:
How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent,the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him?
It’s a 20 second introduction just consisting of questions and one of the presentation openers that grab your attention right away.
Video/ Graphics: If it’s a product presentation why don’t you simply show them the product? This is what they came for. Or show them a short video. This is a great way if you’re battling stage fright. It hooks up the audience for you while you get the chance to concentrate on your next steps.
There are countless ways of opening your presentation. Choose a presentation opener that makes sense for your topic and practice it a few times. Try it next time you’re addressing your audience and you’ll see the results.
Download a list of 22 ingenious presentation openers NOW
8.55 a.m., the room is fully packed and the audience is waiting in anticipation. The conference is about to kick-off with the keynote speech, held by a well-known expert in his field. Many of the people in the audience have come from away and paid a high price to see him live and to be part of an inspiring day full of interesting topics. He steps on stage and starts to talk. The first sentences fill the room and all of sudden the audience seems to freeze.
What’s that? Is he really reading his words one by one from a script? No, this can’t be true. But it is!
Instead of an inspiring talk all he does is holding a lecture, and a very boring one indeed. It doesn’t take long until the first people start to fumble around on their smartphones, typing messages on their social media profiles. Just a few seconds later, these messages pop up on the large twitter wall for all (around 450) people in the room (and everybody on twitter) to see. And they state what everybody in the room is thinking.
- “This years keynote speech is a keynote read. What a start?!” #fail
- “I just thought, I heard my grandpa reading fairy tales? But I never paid him 500 Euros.” #iwantmymoneyback
- “If I want to read a book, I’ll buy a book.” #cheaper
- And so on…
Pay money to receive pain?
I must admit, that this example is a pretty extreme one, that rarely happened to me. But I have experienced a lot of similar presentations at several occasions & conferences in the last couple of years. In most cases the presenters read their slides out loud, which doesn’t make a big difference to reading from a script.
Reading slides is not presenting
And if people want to read from slides, there are cheaper ways to do so.
How do people react to that kind of “lecture”? The results are always the same. Attention drops to a minimum and the presentation mutates from gain to a real pain. But if you pay a lot of money to attend a conference, you don’t want to sit through painfully boring presentations, right? And from an event organizers point of view, I am pretty sure, the last things they want people to remember from their events are pain and boredom.
Being an expert does not make you a good presenter
So why do such things happen again and again? I guess, because event organizers only check the expertise of their speakers. But being an expert doesn’t make him/her a good speaker/presenter. So why do event organizers not check the presentation (slide design) skills of their speakers?
I have no idea!
Quality management for event organizers
Let’s face it – speakers are the main assets of any conference. Their heads are on any piece of marketing deliverable. From website to social media, from brochures to PR kits. Speakers are the lead magnet for the event. And you don’t check the quality of your main assets? Why?
If you hire a catering company, you try the food before you buy. There’s a technic check for all the technical equipment. Before you buy a new car, you take it for a test ride. Why not asking your speakers for a test ride – in public speaking and/or slide design?
Stakes are high for both. But I guess there is a lot more at stake for the event organizer. If a speaker is really bad, he won’t get a lot of future invitations to speak. Unless he’s a professional speaker, this will not harm his business. But if the feedback about the “bad quality of speeches” of an event gets viral, this could kill the credibility of the event and the organizers and lead to economic ruin – in worst case.
Nobody wants to ruin his business with bad products, right? So I tried to find out, what event organizers think about that issue. The outcome pretty much confirmed the thoughts I had in mind.
Although all organizers focus on building a good reputation, none of them had a quality management in place, checking the quality of their main assets. Why? Because most of them said, that “the expertise of a speaker” stands for itself. “And, it is not possible to ask a well-known expert for a test-ride.”
I completely disagree!
As a production company you are fully responsible for the quality of your products. If you outsource production, it’s still you, who’s responsible. As an event organizer, the speakers are the main parts of your product. If you don’t check their quality upfront, you are fully responsible, if the end product is of bad quality.
Dear event organizers!
If you want to put your reputation & business at risk, go on like you did in the past. But, if you want to make your event business future-proof, you should take TED as a role model. You will never see a bad presenter stand on a TED stage. Why? Because TED really cares about the quality of their speakers. And so should you!
This article was originally written as a guest post for Presentation-Guru.com.
Image source: #101143687 | © vege – Fotolia.com
You’ve done the legwork and prepared an out-of-the-ballpark presentation. Your powerpoint slides are on point. All systems are a-go, right? Not quite. Before you get up in front of an audience, you need to understand how the body language you convey can make or break a speech. When you get up in front of a large audience, adrenaline starts to kick in. You may stiffen up and not “act like yourself”. Let’s be honest: speaking in front of groups, no matter how small or large, is no easy task. When you’re nervous, it’s all too easy to freeze up – and when you freeze up, that amazing speech you spent hours putting together falls flat.
As it’s been frequently said that 99% of body language is communication, it’s important to pay attention to how you use your body to communicate during a presentation? Further, how can you avoid conveying your stage fright to an audience? First off, it’s a good idea to memorize your speech. Sure, you may not remember every single word – but knowing it inside and out will help give you greater confidence (plus, you’ll be less glued to your cards). You’ll naturally look and feel more relaxed and engaging.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the 5 body language biggest secrets for improving your presentation and bringing your delivery to the next level.
Body Language Secret #1: Gestures/Physical Movement
Stage actors and actresses know this secret well: you need to exaggerate your movements to engage your audience. Match your body language to the content you are delivering. For example, if you are trying to convey an open-ended idea, go ahead and gesture with open arms. If you want to communicate a powerful position, raise a hand or arm to show your authority. Or, if you want to appear approachable, you can keep your arms by your side as this gesture doesn’t convey a strong emotion.
Body Language Secret #2: Own Your Space
Pay attention to the area around you when you get up in front of your audience. That physical space is yours for the duration of your presentation: make it your home. How you move across the space will send a strong message to your audience – and you want that message to be a positive one.
Instead of standing in one spot, move around the space you occupy. Doing so conveys the message that you are comfortable in your skin – and confident. Of course, you don’t want to move so much that you end up taking away from the points you are communicating, but some movement is necessary to keep your audience awake and listening.
Body Language Secret #3: Give Yourself Some Props?
Whether it’s a coffee mug or a computer, don’t let a prop (as it’s called in the theater) take away from your presentation. You can use your props to your advantage by knowing when it’s appropriate and when to hold back. For example, if you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation, don’t rely on it to do the work for you. Refer back to it, but look at your audience, make eye contact, and stay engaged in your speech.
The point here is: don’t do things for the sake of doing them. Don’t rely on handouts or technology if it’s not absolutely necessary to your presentation. Stay focused on the presentation itself – if you let props take over, you’re doing yourself, and your audience, a disservice.
Body Language Secret #4: Express Yourself
What’s the first thing you notice about another person? It may be their smile or the twinkle in their eyes. In getting ready for your presentation, don’t forget that your face tells a story your words can’t. Humans are naturally drawn to look at the human face – and all eyes will be on your face during the presentation.
Actively remember to smile, to frown and to convey emotion with your face. Squint if you want to show consternation. Frown if you want to display dissatisfaction. Your facial expressions are an important way to connect with your audience on a deeper level – so use them to your advantage. A great way to master your facial expressions is to practice your speech in the mirror a few times, paying attention to the message you are conveying.
Body Language Secret #5: What’s Your Audience’s Body Language?
Your audience’s physical body language is an excellent way to gauge how engaged they are. Take a look around the room…are people on the edge of their seats? Are they nodding in agreement? Are they slouched down and all but falling asleep? Respond to your audience’s body language with body language of your own.
For instance, if your audience looks sleepy – throw some strong gestures in and move around your space to perk them up. On the other hand, if your audience is engaged, build on their enthusiasm and recognize it by flashing a smile.
To sum up, a great presentation is the sum of several parts: research, delivery, technology, preparation and…body language. Though it’s easy to get caught up in the research and prep work, don’t neglect the importance of nonverbal communication. Remember that the way you use your body during a presentation can make or break your success…. Go get ‘em!