Open and Shut

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An opening to any talk is critical. Yet most openings tank the speaker because of pro forma announcements like housekeeping, reciting their name and company, thanking clients or sponsors, or offering an agenda, all upstaged by PowerPoint. There is a better way.

Great openings accomplish three things: hook the audience, set the tone and frame, and provide an insight into the person delivering the talk.

First determine the one message to convey in your open. Then divide your content into two parts. For part #1, describe a current event from the headlines (avoiding anything political). Or, share something personal about your life—e.g., a sport you played, a place you traveled, or a recent movie you’ve seen. Or, reference a coach or mentor and what you learned from them. Whatever you select from your life experience, make sure it reflects your message.

Then for part #2, link this opening ‘trigger’ to your topic. It’s most effective when you use language similar to part #1 that connects the analogy. Since the brain feeds on these associations, you are well on your way to a captivating, engaging presentation in under two minutes.

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