Presentations: Start Stronger
I've heard a lot of people say, "I don't mind presenting, but those first few minutes are hard!"
They are, even for seasoned presenters. So here are a few tips to help your start stronger.
1) Give yourself a moment to connect. Do you rush into your first slide? Don't do it! In the first few minutes of your talk, you are creating a rapport with the audience. They don't know you and you don't know them. So as you offer opening remarks--perhaps with a dark screen behind you--look at the people in the room. Who are they, what does their body language say? If you're in your own head worrying about getting to slide 12, you're missing out on important clues about how to manage the room, later.
2) Reel everyone in. The first few minutes of a talk should be accessible to everyone in the room. Start with a simple, clear description of your work, using words that everyone will understand. Even if your talk is technical, explain the big picture at a high enough level that non-experts get a sense of what you are contributing and how you make that contribution. It will go a long way to helping them understand and remember your talk.
3) Provoke the right questions. This is the big one. Can you get your audience to ask themselves the very questions you plan to answer? If you can, they're hooked! See a longer post on it here.
Photograph by Johannes Jansson/norden.org