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Grand Opening: The Key To Great Presentations


Whether you are speaking in front of a civic group or makinga sales presentation, your opening can make or break thedeal. Unless you grab the audience at the beginning, they'llbe sleeping through your most important information.

You must craft an opening that cannot be ignored. Greatopenings have three things in common:

- they grab the audience's attention away from whatever elsethey're thinking

- they maintain the audience's interest

- they are colorful, not black and white

So, you might be wondering how to create an opening thatwill do all those things. Let's look at my top three tipsthat will help you create your own grabber openings.

#1. Make a startling statement.

There is nothing like a statement that startles, eitherbecause it is so counterintuitive or so amazing, that itgets an audience to sit up and take notice. Here's onefriend Harry Hoover used recently in a talk about how tothink like Leonardo da Vinci. "95 percent of what we knowabout the brain we have learned in the past 20 years." Now,that got my attention.

#2. Use a powerful quotation.

You can find quotes from famous and not-so-famous peoplethat are applicable either to the speech topic itself, tothe audience or best of all to both. For instance, if youwere speaking at a Democratic event on the subject ofachievement, you might pull out this one from Rose Kennedy."Superior achievement, or making the most of one'scapabilities, is to a very considerable degree a matter ofhabit."

#3. Use historic events.

Historic events provide much fodder for openings. If you aregiving a speech on perseverance on April 16th, see whathappened on that day in history. For example: What do themimeograph machine and the airplane have in common? Theirinventors, A.B. Dick and Wilbur Wright were both born onApril 16th, and they both toiled for years before theirinventions were perfected.

Here's a bonus tip for creating a grabber opening for aspeech in a strange city. Check out the telephone directory.Toward the front, they have great information on localhistory, as well as more contemporary facts. It's a greatresource to help you connect with your audience. There youhave my top tips for helping you craft grand openings. Now,go grab your next audience.

Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems (http://www.tyboyd.com), is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 34 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.


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