The ability to capture your audience’s attention is critical to your speaking success! After all, what else can be more discouraging and more unnerving than speaking in front of a totally disenchanted and uninterested audience!
Conversely, having an enchanted and interested audience is always going to have a positive impact on you as a speaker. For one, the audience will be giving you their utmost support, to encourage and root you on to hear what you’ve got to say!
This post is a follow up on my last post: Stand Out or Lose Out: Your Introduction to a Successful Presentation . The purpose of this post is to present everyone with more useful ideas and strategies on how to make your first impression count!
1. Start Strong
I’ve observed many speakers begin their speeches and presentations meekly and cautiously, seemingly for a very good reason – they are uncertain of the dynamics of the audience, and are unsure of the reception that they might receive from their audience.
Now that is a genuine concern!
There is nothing wrong with being cautious, and it’s always good to ‘test the waters’ first before deciding to lunge in to present your jokes and background and experiences. However, the problem here lies in lost opportunity for making an impression. That said, the challenge here lies in making a strong opening that upsetting an audience that you’ve never met before.
Some of the safest strategies have already been mentioned in my earlier post. They involve the use of Quotes and Startling Statistics.
Another method which I’d like to recommend you try, involves speaking at a volume 1-2 levels louder than your normal speaking voice. Yes, I want you to raise your voice!
You see, a big part of establishing credibility and confidence is the about being sure about yourself! Considering that the fear of public speaking has been rated as one of the biggest fears of people, your courage to speak will have already put you in good stead as a confident and powerful. Now, all you’ve got to do is to enhance that believe by raising your voice a little more as if you’ve been doing this a million times and you know your stuff well!
Being loud has never been associated with the meek. Similarly, a confident person’s moves and actions speak VOLUMES about him.
Be that confident person by speaking loudly (or louder)!
2. Starting with Creativity – Dare to be Different
Having gone through 12 years of formal education in Singapore’s Education system, and having been ‘trained’ in school to deliver presentations, I can almost tell you the ‘standard’ method with which students from the local Junior Colleges (JCs) and Polytechnics (Polys) go about beginning their presentations.
Yes, I was so confident of being able to tell what freshmen do at the start of each presentation that I wagered my entire life savings predicting how a 99.9% of a certain class would be beginning their presentions during their tutorials!
And I’m ready to tell you how 99% of how local students will go about introducing their presentations! Like clockwork, they will go like this:
Hi/Good Morning/Afternoon Mr/Ms/Mrs ____________. I am here today to present to you/talk to you about _________. Before I begin, let me introduce you to my group members. This is (pinky) & this is (the brain). I will talking to you about ______. Thereafter/Then (Pinky) will talk to you about _________…
Talk about being BORING and PREDICTABLE! Can you imagine listening to presentations and speeches beginning
This has been done since I was 13! You would have thought after…. (er herm)… all these years somebody would have done something to revamp and train our students to speak with greater variety and strategies in speaking! Well, in a way, I’m glad they haven’t been able to do that yet… otherwise, I’d be jobless! *winks*
In any case, the key idea here is that you’ve really got to be different!
No doubt the key strategies of begining with quotes, asking a question or beginning with statistics may be seasoned strategies used by many Toastmasters around the world. Yet, there’s a reason why these strategies remain evergreen.
All it takes is a little creativity for you to stand head and shoulders above the rest!
3. Start by Proxy
Toastmasters around the world will recognise the value of having someone else introduce you before you begin speaking.
Having someone else introduce your credentials and background as a speaker alleviates the need for you to establish your and build your credibility at the beginning of the speech. After all, you wouldn’t want to oversell yourself, or appear to be blowing your own trumpet when the time could be better spent building rapport with your audience.
Having an assistant give your introduction will also elevate your standing in the room and enhances the impression your audience have of you! Do it well and you’ll have the audience eager to hear what you’ve to say before you even begin a word!
Remember, you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression!
Make your first impressions count!