What do you do to "grab"
your audience from the start of your presentations? Is there a sure-fire way
to relax your nerves and connect with your audience at the same time? I want
to share with you what I learned from Lee Glickstein, the speaking coach I hired
several years ago. He recently released his new book, Be Heard Now! How to Compel
Rapt Attention Every Time You Speak. His concepts have transformed how I speak
and can impact your presentations as well.
Openings are the toughest
thing for most presenters. You only have about 15 seconds to make a good first
impression. Think about typical openings you have heard presenters give: jokes,
thanks for inviting me, I'm glad to be here, housekeeping items, name dropping,
etc. Most of us don't tune in at all until they start their "real" content,
do we? And, many presenters start talking immediately after the applause ends
to cover up their anxiety or to project confidence.
Consider this...Open by
nonverbally noticing and receiving your audience for at least five seconds after
applause ends (this was the most difficult thing for me to do in the beginning).
Why? Because speaking is an act in which you give and receive. Most presenters
tend to give, give, give or push, push, push more information at you. Take a
deep breath and center yourself. Allow room for give and take.
Open with a personal story
that reflects your humanness. Your opening line is the most critical line which
should connect you to the audience. Here are some actual examples of mine: "It
was one of those phone calls you dread." "Have you ever felt like you just didn't
fit in?" The fact that you opened with silence and then start with a sentence
that grabs the audience's attention compels people to listen immediately.
Tell your story only to
individuals, keeping soft eye contact with each for 5 - 10 seconds, before moving
on. Avoid sweeping eye contact with the entire audience, but looking at no one
in particular. This individual eye contact lessens the fear factor with larger
audiences. You are merely having a conversation with individuals, who happen
to be in a group. Speak in short sentences, pausing frequently to really connect
Use humor based on your
own experiences and limitations as a human being. Years after hearing me, people
still come up to me to talk about the grape story or my safety city story. In
this era of political correctness, jokes can get you in trouble. Personal stories
Practical Application: Think
about your presentations. What is your message? Tell you or your organization's
OWN stories and anecdotes to coincide with your main points or content. I designed
the following questions specifically for the health care fund raisers I was
speaking with to spark their memory about events that occurred in their life
or organization. Consider adapting these questions to your subject matter and
incorporating your answers into your presentations in order to build more meaning,
rapport, and connection with your audience.
- Who was the most influential
health care professional in your life?
- What's the most poignant
real life story you've heard about your health care organization?
- What was a significant
benefit you personally received from one of the hospital's community programs?
- Name two health care
professionals from your organization who have impacted health care for the
- What is your organization's
basic health care philosophy and mission?
- What are the top three
concerns people share with the changes in health care?