DON’T: JUST TELL A JOKE AT THE START
I often hear leaders say they need to tell a joke to get the audience’s attention. I’m not sure who suggested this notion, but it’s not a helpful strategy for the majority of us. It’s risky. The problem is that the leader feels pressure to be funny and the joke often gets delivered in an awkward way.
DO: MAKE YOUR START MEMORABLE
It’s critical to get off to a strong start—for you and for the audience. Forget the humor unless you’re naturally funny. Even then, skip the joke unless you’re 150 percent confident you can deliver flawlessly.
Remember, connecting with the audience by letting them know you understand them and their needs is a winning approach. In my experience, when it comes to presentation style, the audience will cut you slack when your delivery isn’t perfect if you have content that they care about.
To start strong, I often recommend memorizing the beginning of your presentation so you can build your confidence right away, like a star forward starting the game with six points on the board. I also compare it to getting on the highway—you have to accelerate to get to the speed you want to arrive at. And that sets the stage for the rest of your presentation.
DON’T: LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR PURPOSE
Too often, leaders jump into presentations with a catchy start, then fail to deliver on the ultimate goal. It’s nice to grab the audience’s attention, but you also need to keep it.
DO: START WITH THE GOAL IN MIND
Even if it’s an update for a group you see regularly, consider how you can maximize the opportunity to further your goals and accelerate the progress of whatever you are working on.
What do you need from this group? What type of information are you trying to gather or deliver? What feedback or insights would be beneficial to your project?
What strategies do you use to ensure you kick off your presentation well?
- David Grossman
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