08 October 2010

Start your presentation with a Bang!

very nervous
Know the feeling?
You need to make a presentation at an upcoming event, and just thinking about it raises a sweat. You don't know where to start, and you keep staring at a blank screen. The deadline is looming and you're no further ahead.

The basic format to a speech is to Start with a Bang; add 2-3 STAR (Something They'll Always Remember) moments; and finish Strong.

Easy right? You want to make an impact, but you just don't know how. If this is all too familiar, there are some simple guidelines to follow.

Most people try to start at the beginning and finish at the end when they are constructing their speech. Logical in life but not when designing your speech. You will only be able to design your speech to start strong if you know where it's leading.

So Guideline #1 is to design your opening at the end. Once you know what you're going to be talking about, you can build your theme into the opening. When you know the direction of your presentation, you can look for the links that tie your presentation together. And you can start to theme your presentation. So create your opening last.

Guideline #2 is to link your opening to your close. Think about the key concepts you want to get across (aim for 3 key points), and consider what call to action you want to make at the end of your presentation. What do you want people to think, feel or do differently as a result of hearing you speak? Once you know this, you can design your close and then tie this theme back into the opening.

Guideline #3 is to think of creative ways to open your speech. Don't stand up with the inane introduction "Hello, my name is X, and today I'm here to speak to you about ...". Start with a bold statement, a question that gets them thinking, a startling fact, or an emotion-provoking story.

So for your next presentation, the one you are sweating about, put away the blank sheet of paper that you are trying to get started on. Get out another, and list the 3 most important points you want to make. Next, consider the key message you want to leave with your audience at the end.

You will then have a theme that you can loop back to create your opening. And start with a BANG!