A young businesswoman is ready to launch her business into the atmosphere. Give your business some boom and success.

The most common advice you will hear about opening a presentation is to grab the audience’s attention right from the start.

Whilst that’s true, its not enough. At Mindful Presenter we often argue that you have your audience’s attention, after all, they turned up to listen to you.

Every presenters first challenge is to not only capture their audience’s attention but their interest and curiosity too.

The next time you are called on to craft and deliver a presentation, keep in mind that it’s highly likely that your audience will already have some idea of:

– Who you are

– What you do

– Why you are there

That mean you won’t get their attention, interest and curiosity if the first thing you tell them is your name, position, company and what your presentation is all about.

If you follow the predictable route of ‘ Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you just told them, it’s predictable and arguably boring.

We also know that we can tell within the first 60 seconds whether or not we will need to discreetly pull our phones out of our pockets to check our emails. We don’t pay attention to boring things let alone lifeless speakers, so our first task is to make our audience to feel that they are really glad they turned up..

Here are 7 real openers that I have used to good effect to open a presentation skills workshop which you may be able to take something from and adapt for your next appearance. Please keep in mind that it is not about my content; it’s about the concept and the content you may personally use to open your presentation with impact.

1- A lesson learned – we all have them to share

‘My wife and I were invited to sit with our son at a special assembly on his very first day at school. After the Head teacher spoke for 5 minutes our son looked up at me with his hand on his forehead and whispered, “Daddy this story is giving me a headache, what time does it finish?” He was only 5 years old of course but that day we both learned a very important lesson; regardless of age, it’s very easy for a speaker to disengage with an audience very quickly and even give them a headache.

Great speakers know how to capture and hold an audience’s attention, interest and curiosity right from the start.

2 – A powerful quote – can inspire, illuminate and define your message

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

‘We live in a time of change right now and it’s the great speakers who are leading that change.’

Here’s another favourite:

“There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” Mark Twain

‘I think Mark Twain was right. Our challenge is how we manage and use those nerves’

3 – A thought interrupt – the human mind likes to wander; draw its attention to you

‘Research suggests that as human beings we each have between 50-80 thousand thoughts every day, that many of these are recycled repetitive thoughts and that a great deal of them are negative. As speakers, that presents a significant challenge for both us and our audience. The mindful presenter acknowledges and respects that general human conditioning. You sat down this morning with a plethora of thoughts already in your mind, some of you may think you’ve heard this all before and it’s possible that some of you don’t even want to be heard.

4 – A question to ponder – It’s hard not to listen when you’re asked a question

‘Cast your mind back to the last business presentation you attended.

– What do you remember?

– How did you feel when you returned to your desk or car?’

Here’s another favourite:

‘The world has changed considerably in the last two decades. Technology, education, transport, medicine; everything has changed. What if anything has changed in the way we present to each other in business’

5 – Challenge the status quo – your audience is longing for something different

‘When it comes to good advice for giving a presentation I’m willing to bet that at some point in the past some of you were told to ‘just be yourself’.

That’s bad advice.

What they should have said was ‘be your best self’. There really is a difference, let me explain…’

Here’s another favourite:

‘At Mindful Presenter we believe that after a typical business presentation most people in the audience will forget around 90% of what they hear by the time they return to their desk or their car. At best they will feel indifferent; it has to stop.’

6 – Share an experience – they really are the best way to learn

‘I first went to Disney World in Florida at the age of 20. That was 35 years ago. As my brother and I were queuing to ride Space Mountain we noticed a family just in front of us where the father was carrying what looked like a small suitcase onto the ride. We’d been on the ride before so we both knew there was no way that he and that huge case would fit into the tiny seat so we couldn’t help but wonder why on earth he was carrying it with him.

As we looked much closer we realised it wasn’t a suitcase at all; it was a mobile phone.

Now keep in mind that was 35 years ago, and there was nothing mobile or portable about those phones at all. This is my phone today, not only is it a fraction of the size but it holds my entire music collection and can help me to find my way around anywhere in the world.

The world has changed a great deal in the last 30 years but what has really changed when it comes to presenting and public speaking?’

7 – Surprise them – get them thinking about something they don’t think about

There are over 70 million private businesses registered across the world. Imagine this; every single day, it is likely that there is at least one presentation being made in each business. That mean’s that every day there are 70 million presentations being made all over the world.

The reality is, there are far more than 70 million businesses operating worldwide and you can be certain that there are a great many of presentations taking place in each of them.

The ability to speak with confidence, clarity and impact has to be one of the most important skills in the world today.

Here’s another favourite:

‘Research suggests that the human mind is conditioned to wander 47% of the time. That means that I have to work really hard today to keep you here in the room with me.’

Image: Courtesy of istockphoto.com