Did you know that, within the first 30 seconds of your speech, your audience members will have decided whether or not they want to hear more? What are you doing with your first 30 seconds? Most speakers open with Unpleasant pleasantries by stating something like, "Thank you so much for having me here. It's a real pleasure." The problem with this kind of opening is two-fold:
It's too normal and expected and therefore does not gain attention.
Nobody cares about how great you feel.
The first 30 seconds is only part of the opening. Here are 3 keys to making the rest of your opening compelling:
1. Come out with a Bang. The two best ways to open most presentations are the following:
Go right into your story
Ask a powerful question
2. Make a Big Promise. Sell your audience on what they will be able to do or understand by the time they walk out of those doors
3. Provide a Roadmap. Explain the path they are going to follow for your presentation. For example, in my Change keynote, I say, "This comes to you in the form of the 4 Rs to Remarkable Results." In that way my audience knows I plan to go from one R to another R and to next R and so on. That makes it easy for them to follow.
What is one additional MUST for your opening that most speakers neglect? Get your audience members to nod their head in agreement with something in your opening. This greases the tracks and makes it easier for your message to come through. Believe it or not, a little agreement (nodding of the head) up front often leads to a larger agreement in the end.
Take a look at the following 7-minute video of an opening I gave for a speech about the art of public speaking. See if you can find some of the elements I mentioned above. Hint: You should find at least 3 pieces where my audience is most likely nodding their heads (and not from being asleep).