10 Ways to Start Your Next Speech, Presentation, Blog Post, Live Video, and Social Audio
Did you know that your audience will forget 90% of what you say within 60 minutes after giving a speech?
The fact of the matter is that one hundred years ago, the average attention span was 20 minutes. Today, some experts say it’s as short as nine seconds, the same attention span of a goldfish.
Now I’m not sure if our attention spans have decreased to that of a Carassius auratusor (the common goldfish) or if it’s more of a factor that we’re exposed to substantially more information and interruptions than ever before. Either way, I think we can all agree that a lot is going on in all of our lives, so it’s essential to immediately capture our audience’s attention if we want to have our message heard and avoid them from clicking away.
So how do we do this? How can we immediately grab attention?
The key is to IMMEDIATELY grab your audience’s attention. Don’t wait around for people to join your live broadcast. Don’t spend time going through your impressive resume or talking about the weather or traffic. If you do this, you’ll be boring your audience. Nobody cares.
Instead, start with an attention-grabbing 60-120 seconds and then roll the conversation over to your topic or interview.
So how do you do this? What’s your next step?
Let’s say you’re giving a presentation titled “The Power of Persuasion and Communication.” Depending on your unique skillset and audience, you may want to start things off with one of the following ten approaches. Include metaphors because they’re easy for my audience members to remember and recall in conversations later that day, week, or year. This approach has worked well for me for more than 30 years, and it’ll work well for you too.
So when it comes to the topic of persuasion and communication, you might start with:
#1: A Quote- “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw. Combine this quote with a short story highlighting how easy it is for misunderstandings and miscommunications to take place. Add a memorable metaphor.
#2: A Statistic- “The next time you deliver a speech, keep in mind that 90% of what you say will be forgotten within 60 minutes after you finish.” I used this statistic at the beginning of my email. Did it capture your attention?
#3: A Question- “Do you know what the biggest communication challenge is in today’s noisy and busy world? It’s probably not what you think!”
#4: A Current Breaking News Item- “Becoming an effective communicator got me on the evening news last night to discuss the Olympic Games in Japan. Would you like to know the communication steps I took to get noticed and invited to offer my commentary?
#5: A Short Story That Relates Directly To Your Topic- "I watched opposing counsel give his closing argument last Wednesday morning. He stumbled through the whole thing. It was a mess. Using three simple steps I’ll be sharing with you today, when counsel was finished, I stood up, walked over to the jury, and gave a closing argument that resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict. Want to know what these three steps are?”
#6: A Sincere Thank You- “Rotary International is truly one of the top community service organizations in the world. I want to thank Bob Smith for including me in this extraordinary event to share several of my favorite communication tips with you.”
#7: Have Your Audience Write Something Down- “There are five steps that exceptional communicators use to share their message. I’ll be sharing them with you today. Grab a pen and paper because you’ll want to write these down.”
#8: Humor- “The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born and never stops until you get up to speak in public.” Quick tip- only start with a joke if you’re good at telling jokes.
#9: Make a Prediction- “By the time I’m done with my presentation and share these seven tips, I predict that you will increase your ability to persuade others by 25% to 50%.”
#10: A Poem, Rhyme, or Metaphor- “Communication is the key to moving forward in life, but my hands are shaking as I hold the key while turning it to try and start the ignition. How many of you feel this way when you stand to deliver a speech or presentation?” (or for the trial lawyers in the room, when you stand to give your opening statement?)
Do you have a favorite approach you use to start your presentations? If so, please hit “reply” and share it with me. I’m writing a follow-up blog post in a few months, and I’d enjoy sharing your tips.
Three Great Books:
The Tall Lady With the Iceberg: The Power of Metaphor to Sell, Persuade & Explain Anything to Anyone (Expanded edition of Metaphorically Selling) by Anne Miller https://amzn.to/3ixs4ZL
Between now and next week, enjoy the journey and never stop making each day your masterpiece!
Mitch Jackson, Esq.
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