Blaire Palmer is a keynote speaker and a world authority on leadership and the future of work. A former BBC Journalist, she shares her insights from 20 years of coaching and provoking leadership teams with conference audiences all over the world.
Do you know the quickest way to switch off your audience?
The middle management intro.
It goes a little something like this –
“Hello, my name is Keith Bloggs and I’m the Head of Blah for Western Europe and Asia, and I’m just going to take a few moments of your time today to run through some of the changes we’ve been making in the region…blah… blah… blah”
Kill me now.
You only have a few seconds to GRAB the attention of your audience before they make their mind up about you, and you’re going to waste it on that?!
Grasp the Opportunity
The very first words out of your mouth need to get people to sit right up in their chairs.
There’s no need to sugarcoat it… we know that it’s harder to keep people’s attention online. It’s just too easy for people to check out of an online presentation, and go make themselves a cup of tea or check their social media without ever being seen.
When people have flown in from another state or even another country, they’re locked in a conference venue with 300 other people, with nothing else to do BUT network and attend speaker sessions. So it’s just human nature, they’re going to give a physical event more attention just because of the sacrifice they’ve made to be there!
So, you are at a bit of a disadvantage as an online speaker when all that’s been asked of your audience is to roll out of bed and make sure their top half looks relatively professional. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to keep them hooked on every word even if they’re hearing it from a computer.
Your very first words
You’re probably asking yourself – Well if I can’t say “Hello, my name is…”, what am I supposed to say??
Well, here’s just a few ideas…
- Share a powerful statistic or fact. Take a breath, open your mouth, and say “25%. That’s the percentage increase in the interaction we’ve had with our customers since lockdown”. Hit them between the eyes.
- Tell a story. Just launch into a relevant (and brief) story that sets up what you’re about to talk about. People love to hear things they can relate too.
- Use a famous quote. Pick something that’s not too much of a cliché and use someone else’s clever words to kick off your presentation.
- Make a bold statement. It can be controversial, because you can detract it immediately, or you can let it land by leaving a pause before you continue. It’s there to grab people’s attention.
(I’ve also created a cheat sheet you can download with more options for grasping the opportunity. You can find this and more at the end of this blog).
Congratulations! You’ve just set an expectation for your audience. You’ve told them, by taking them by surprise, that your speech is going to require their attention. It’s not going to be predictable. And they might even enjoy it!
Keep them interested
Now that you’ve grabbed their attention you have to keep it. But that’s a whole other story, I’ll be sharing more tips for how you can do this in future posts. But trust me, once you get the introduction right, you’ve done the hard part.
Blaire Palmer is a speaker mentor. Reach out to us if you’d like her advice or help on how you and your speakers can give presentations that inspire and engage their online audience.
Blaire has created some additional free resources for you, which you can access here. It includes resources like cheat sheets to help you write a strong opening to your presentation and ways you can identify the areas you need to work on to give an online presentation that knocks people’s socks off.
In case you missed the link: https://thatpeoplething.teachable.com/p/10-ways-to-start-your-online-presentation