How to Improve Your Presentation Before You Say a Single Word

You have spent many hours, if not days, preparing to give a big presentation at a conference or event. You have researched your topic, you are confident that your material will be riveting to your audience. And you have put the hard yards in, having practiced with great diligence. Are you feeling ready? Are you good to go? Have you forgotten anything? Maybe.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce…”. What happens next? Is there any chance you don’t know exactly how you will be introduced?

In my experience, far too many speakers at conferences and seminars fail to pay attention to this important part of their presentation. Does it matter? Does it affect the way an audience may perceive you and what you have to say? You bet it does, as Lucky Luc would say “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. So why leave the first impressions people have of you to chance?

You shouldn’t! Think of your introduction as a part of your presentation, part of the messages your audience will receive from you. More importantly, think of your introduction as an opportunity:

  • To set expectations (setting the stage)
  • To bolster your credibility as a speaker
  • To pique your audience’s interest in the theme you will address
  • To keep control of your message

Don’t get me wrong, there are many experienced conference comperes or MCs who will do a good job of pulling out a few nuggets from your bio and tying these into the topic you will speak on. But many don’t. And, in any case, you shouldn’t expect anyone who introduces you to know as much about you and your presentation as you do. And you certainly don’t want your introduction to be anything less than engaging – or worse still, boring. So what should you do?

Simple, always write your own introductions. Decide what you want to have said about you and your topic before you say a single word. Use your introduction to grab your audience’s attention and establish why they will want to listen to you. Be sure to keep your introduction short and focused on what your audience will really care about – i.e. how what you will say may help or benefit your audience. In other words, WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

The bottom line is – when it comes to your introduction, don’t gamble. All introductions are not equal. By writing your own introduction you will be doing the introducer and your audience a favour. Most people who have to introduce others will be delighted that you have made his/her job easier. Most comperes will be thrilled to have a script that reads well and makes them look good. And guess what? You’re off to a great start – first time, every time. Plan on it!

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