If you really want to impress and engage a virtual audience, what’s the most critical part of your presentation?
A. Your slide deck.
B. Your clothes (dress to impress).
C. Your opening minute.
If you guessed “C”, you’re right! If you’re crunched for time, devote most of your presentation prep time on nailing your opening. Why? If you don’t quickly convince your audience that you’re worth listening to, your clothes or slides won’t matter.
It only takes an audience anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds to decide if they like you and want to stay tuned. That means, you have less than a minute to knock out your competition—every distraction your virtual audience is fighting off (phones, children, household noises, etc.).
The competition is tough, but there are three ways to quickly pull your listeners into your virtual presentation intellectually and emotionally. I call them the “Three Superstar Openers”:
When you open your presentation with a success story or personal anecdote you can show how you are similar to your listeners and how your message impacts them. A well-crafted story can point out how your experiences align with theirs.
Sharing one of your failures, flaws, frustrations, or fears makes you more relatable. Folks are more likely to apply your advice when they know that you understand their problems, experiences, and challenges. Stories build trust and instant rapport.
Surprising Stats or Facts
Look for ways to do something unique that is unexpected or creates suspense. You want to make your listeners curious about what you are going to say or do next.
If you have a new perspective or a different twist on your topic, tease your audience early so they’ll want to keep listening. If you’ve got an unusual statistic, fact or bold statement, throw it out in your opening minutes to entice your listeners to think, “Wow! Tell me more!”
I like “suction questions” because they pull your listeners in by making them think about themselves. You can ask a question to lead into your story or ask a question that gets your audience reflecting on how your message relates to their problems or their experiences.
You can get your audience engaged with your message by asking questions like, “Have you ever…” or “Imagine…” Get them thinking about how your message is relevant to their lives. Make sure your opening, your closing and your entire presentation is focused on your audience if you want them to focus on you—instead of the other distractions in the room (phones, children, household noises, etc.)!
Remember, to impress and engage your virtual audience, make your presentation appealing to them quickly by using one of the three superstar openers (stories, surprising stats or fact, and suction questions). In your opening minute, give your listeners a reason to give you their attention!
For more ways to start strong and stay engaged with your virtual audience, check out the easy-to-use videos, tips and strategies on the Better Speaking Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BetterSpeakingSkills