The Original Web

A sharp image focused on a woman's hand hard at work, crafting a table runner out of llama wool

We don’t use many Latin words anymore, but it’s instructive to look at ancient languages to see how words began and what they mean. For instance, exordium is defined as the beginning of an oration or treatise. In fact, it literally means the beginning of anything. If you go back further in time, it means to fit together, or the warp of a web.

Why are we focusing on a Latin word? Because for speakers, how we open a presentation paves the way for success or failure. But remember a few years back when bold, counter-intuitive statements were in vogue? Or telling a joke, asking a question, or referencing a quote? Typically, the speaker then proceeded in a traditional, uninteresting fashion with little connection to their opening.

When you grab the audience’s attention, respect and know what to do with it. Begin your warp of a web, linking the opening to the rest of your talk. How artfully you do that will determine if your audience stays with you. It can be a news event of the day (stay away from politics), a brief anecdote or case study, or how a weather event is relevant to the topic. When you make the connection between the opening and body of the talk, you can feel a physical shift of energy. Your creativity and unique slant on the topic is exciting for you and your audience.

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