Introducing... Your Presentation!: Ideas to Have Them at "Hello"

Posted by Elizabeth Levey
May 14, 2015

by Elizabeth Levey

elizabeth-levey-1We all know the importance of a good first impression. In fact, studies have shown that our audience makes a snap judgment about us within the first 100 milliseconds of seeing our face!  Judgment often has negative connotations, but what if within that 100 milliseconds, I decide, “I like her hair and she seems really friendly.” That’s a judgment too – just a positive one. 

Hopefully you nail that first impression with professional attire, a bright smile, and positive body language. But what happens next? You’ll need a strong introduction, of course. Without a well-organized and well-structured presentation, even the greatest presenters will lack luster. There should be several clear beginnings, middles, and ends within your presentation, and this begins right out of the gate with your introduction. 

Exceptional Presentation Skills

  • First, start with an attention grabber. This doesn’t need to be big and dramatic — simply a moment to signal to the audience that it’s time to tune in and pay attention.  Simple things can work well: an interesting fact, a rhetorical question, a mention of some recent news.  Don’t overthink this, and have a bit of fun with it if you can.

  • Next, if there is anyone in the room who might not know you well, take a moment to establish your credibility. Let your audience know who you are, what you do, and why you’re an expert in what you’re about to present.

  • Then tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em.  Give a brief overview of your presentation — one to two presentation-ideas-introductionssentences will do it.  After that, tell them how you want them to feel about the knowledge you’ll impart.  Do you want them to be excited, empowered, forewarned?  Let them know in this moment.

  • Tell them what you want them to do with this knowledge.  Is it a new process they can apply immediately?  A new perspective to introduce to their teams?  Also, tell them what’s in it for them.  This is a sure way to get buy-in from your audience.  

  • What are the key points in your presentation?  They know the broad overview, but now is the time to highlight a few of the big ideas that you’ll be covering during your presentation.

  • And finally: housekeeping. Are you holding all questions until the end or taking them as they come?  When are your scheduled breaks throughout the day?  Now is the time to lay out some of the rules of the room, such as no cell phones, step out for restroom breaks as needed, whatever other pertinent info you’d like your audience to know.  Audiences like clear expectations — make sure you set them out.

A good introduction will pave the way for a strong, clear, and well-structured presentation.  Set yourself up for success!  Take some time to make sure it is just as well-planned as your slide deck, demo, or any other elements your presentation.  Putting thought into your introduction will propel you forward into a dynamic presentation, and a smooth start will make all of your presentation ideas shine. 

What do you do to have your audience at "hello" every time? Let us know in the comments!


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