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10 Tips for… Starting Brilliantly

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So many people ask us how to start well in a presentation and how to make the maximum impact in those crucial first few minutes. Remember that the first 2 minutes are the point at which you have the audience’s full attention, and the best presenters will use that attention to full effect: to intrigue, interest and take control of the room; to allow their story to be told.

Here are 10 tips that will ensure you get off to a brilliant start each and every time.

1)  Contact as many people as you can beforehand

Contact as many people as you can before the date and ask them what they want to get out of the session, what they’d like to know and what they don’t want. Even if they don’t respond, they’ll remember you asked them and it will warm you to them.

2) Get a list of attendees beforehand

Get a list of names before the event and memorize as much of the list as you can, then fit faces to names as they walk in to the room.

3) Meet people as they come into the room

Meet people (even if you know them) as they come into the room, shake hands, have a brief chat with them to help show your confidence and ‘break the ice’.

4) Do your introduction with a blank screen

If you give your introduction with a blank screen at the start your audience can focus their full attention on you. Then you are in control and ready to go.

5) Introduce yourself

Tell them who you are and why you’re there.

(‘I’m the person who knows this system as well as anybody in the world and I’d like to help you learn how to make the most of this excellent piece of software…’).

6) What’s in it for them?

At the start tell them what they’re going to get out of being here.

(‘You’ll get an interesting, useful and memorable set of hints and tips that will help you to make the most of the investment you’re making….’).

7) Give them an idea of your timings

Tell them how long you’ll be and that if they ‘do with patient ears attend…’ they’ll get lots out of the session.

(‘I’ll talk for 20 minutes, and you’ll see how useful this product will be for you…’).

8) Tell them what you want them to do

Tell them what you want them to do to get the most out of the talk.

(‘Please feel free to ask questions as we go through and help me to give you what you need, though if I’m going to cover the point later I may ask you to be a little patient with me…’).

9) Match your energy

Match your energy to the energy in the room (just above the energy level of a quiet room and just below that of a noisy room).

10) Explain your logic

Take them through the ‘story structure’ for the presentation so they see your logic at the start. Use the story structure slide for the ‘bridge’ to Act 1.


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Rethinking Title Slides

Even the Shortest Story Needs Structure

Have you got an great ideas for how to start your presentation brilliantly? We’d love to know – so please feel free to share them in the Comments section below.

This article is part of a new series we will be running called ’10 Tips for…’. Watch out for our next article where we will be looking at building a strong story.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is a serial entrepreneur and the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps international and FTSE 100 companies sell themselves, and their products more effectively. Jim has many years of experience speechwriting, presentation coaching and motivational speaking, all over the world.
Jim Harvey
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