Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tips for Fantastic Openings

Here are some opening techniques I use every time I speak.

Make Localized / Personalized Comments. -- These can be some of your most fantastic openings. You can make a witty comment about something that is familiar to everyone in the audience.

Don't ever give the appearance you are holding back. --Tell the audience you will give them everything you possibly can in the time allotted.

You can make teasing comment about a well-known person in the audience or the emcee. -- Make sure you clear it with them first and make sure the audience knows you aren't being malicious.

Make Points people agree on first. -- Don't create controversy early, unless you are doing it for dramatic effect.

Address audience comfort. -- Let them stand up and turn their chairs around at luncheon / banquet settings or mention the temp of the room, lighting, etc. to see if the audience is OK with the settings. If things are running late, tell them what time you expect to finish so they aren't worried about it throughout your entire speech.

Never tell (in your opening) any story or joke that has a remote chance of offending someone. --After you warm up the audience, you may be bolder.
Somewhere in your opening you must tell the audience why you are there. They need some selfish reason to listen to you.

You can use humor in your opening to show the audience you are a fun presenter. -- Don't make the mistake of boring them to tears for the rest of the presentation. Use humor throughout.

Other opening ideas
  • Ask a funny or outrageous question
  • Make an outrageous statement
  • Mention something from a local newspaper that relates to your presentation.
  • Use a funny quotation
  • Get immediate audience participation. -- I do this quite frequently by getting about 5 volunteers on stage with me within the first three minutes.

    Use one or more of these tips every time you present and you'll make an awesome impact on your audience the moment you hit the stage.

For a complete discussion of openings and many other issues check out Wake 'em Up: How to Use Humor and Other Professional Techniques to Create Alarmingly Good Business Presentations

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