Studies have shown that one of keys to highly successful presentations lie in their introduction. Yes, you read me right: Introduction.
You see, a presentation may contain some of the most powerful and informative points ever. Content, by itself may generate value for audiences. And most of the time, that is exactly what we’re trying to achieve – convey a message/messages to the audience!
Yet, a lot of this conveyancing depends on opening the doors to the minds of your audience. Unless the audience are desperate to hear you speak before you even start, you’ve really got to put in some work to MAKE THEM DESPERATE to hear you speak. And a lot of this is going to come in the introduction portion.
In this post, I’m going to share with you three techniques on how you may go about crafting a powerful introduction for your speech/presentation.
1. Use a Startling Statistic
Statistics are numbers… (duh!) and numbers don’t lie, do they? Many people have come to associate numbers with the truth. It’s the way we’ve come to function in a modern society driven by science.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you were speaking at a marriage preparation workshop and you’d like to inform everyone of the importance of communication in fostering strong, healthy and lasting marriages, lest they end up in divorce.
To highlight your point (and especially if you live in Belgium) you could choose to start with either one of the following:
a) Divorce rates are going up these days. More couples are getting divorced and it’s important to pay attention to see how we can reverse that trend (or)
b) The Divorce rate is going up these days… in fact, 2 out of 3 marriages are ending up in divorce! Take a look to the couple on your left. And take a look at the couple on your right. Only one of you is going to make it… and that one couple will be the one who’s going to pay lots of attention to my seminar this afternoon!
Now, how’s that for effect!
Grab hold of a startling statistic and relate it to the audience! Tell them what it means to them… and if you could take it even further, make them feel the impact and significance of those numbers!
2. Use Quotes
There’re reasons why great leaders are great leaders – their ability to amass and command support were vital to their success and to their cause. And their ability to speak and inspire was a key asset for many of them.
Indeed, it isn’t an easy task to prepare an inspirational speech. Often, many of these leaders managed to inspire their audience using something that many of us do not possess – Charisma. Either that, or a professional speech writer! *winks*
Yes, I think it’s an open secret that many of our leaders’ speeches are professionally prepared and written by speech writers. Now I know many of us don’t really have access to professional speech writers. But that does’ not mean we can never take advantage of their talents and works by quoting the words of famous leaders and personalities!
Quotes are powerful ways to start a speech or presentations because of their beautiful ability to say so much with so few words. And the fact that they were used by someone famous tends to add credibility to your speech and presentation too!
You may quote several sources with the convenience of internet’s able to provide us with now. You may get your quotes from famous personalities, songs and books. And if you’re one of those blessed people who frequently get the opportunity to hear other people speak, you may even come across some beautifully used words and phrases too!
3. Tell a Story
Do you still remember the times when you clamored your parents to read you a fairy tale when you were younger? Remember how you reacted toward the end as you were asked to ponder over the “moral of the story”? Or how about the thoughts and learning lessons that come to mind each time you read a novel or newspaper?
The ability of a speaker to deliver value hinges very much on his ability to connect and relate to his audience… Stories have long been tools for relating points and messages since we were kids, and they continue to be a powerful medium for transmitting messages.
So here are some tips to help you come up with engaging and intriguing stories:
a) Work on common experiences
Note the demography and background of your audience and use those stories that most of them can relate to. For example, on the topic of patience, you may talk about how much trouble your kid gets himself into to a group of parents or caregivers, but that’s probably not going to work as well when you’re advocating patience to a group of teenagers.
At the end of the day, always ask if your audience can relate to the story you’re telling!
b) What’s your Point?
What’s the moral of the story? The general rule here is “Tell a story, make a point”. Everything has a purpose… tell the audience the purpose and the learning lesson behind your story to set up the mood for the rest of your speech/presentation!
c) Be Observant and Creative
Some of you may be wondering where on Earth are we able to gather interesting stories. My answer is… EVERYWHERE!
Every occurance and event holds the potential to become the subject of your next story! You’ve just got to be observant and creative enough to be able link what you see to the point that you’re trying to make!
Well, here are three more simple tools for you to use to attrack your audience’s attention and get them fixated on your speech and message!