Create a Knockout Opening

Your opening and closing are extremely important. You have 30 seconds or less to grab attention. Here are a few ways to begin your speech:

* Startling Statement - This could be a statistic or statement that immediately gets them to sit up and focus on the topic. Shock appeal is more effective in persuading the audience to understand the seriousness of your position.

* Surprising Action - Do something unexpected. Act clumsy when using technology. Then regain composure and ask the audience for their reaction. Drive home the point that your platform is easy to use and you will avoid looking foolish when you use technology that works.

* Humor - People love a good laugh. It relaxes them, makes them feel good, and breaks the ice. Don't tell jokes unless you are a really good joke teller but do use humorous statements and anecdotes.

* Purpose Statement - This is a direct way of letting them know your point. This opening technique is a good choice when there are time constraints or when your audience has a short attention span. For example, "In today's presentation, I am going to explain the four styles of leadership and why you must think of yourselves not as managers but as leaders."

* Begin with the End - Occasionally, you may start with your conclusion and then build your case taking them from beginning to end. By starting with the end result or bottom line you capture attention and can lead them to your way of thinking.

* Ask a Question - The speaker begins with a rhetorical question that makes the audience think. When posing a question make sure it is meaningful to the audience. Otherwise it will have little effect.

* Quote - A well-known quote can colorfully introduce the point you want to make. This is especially effective for business presentations when you want to acknowledge an industry leader or in house expert. You will need to skillfully weave the quote into your topic.

* Visual aid - Visual aids can be very effective in focusing attention. Cartoon strips work well as do thought-provoking pictures or props.

* Personal Experience - This technique builds good will and creates a connection with the audience. It helps you relate on a personal level. Many comedians take every day personal experiences and exaggerate them. The audience can relate because they have experienced it.

* Anecdote - A short story is a powerful way to open or close a presentation. An anecdote or story can help to lower the listeners' defenses. Stories draw the audience into the content. But the story must lead into the presentation topic quickly or the point will be lost.