Avoid this Stupid Mistake #7: Introduce Your Speech with Low Expectations

November 14, 2007

Here’s the situation:  This week I attended a presentation in which a consultant had been asked to address a group for a potential client.  The consultant had 30 minutes to say something useful and make an impression in order to be asked back for a fee.  The manager in charge introduced the consultant/speaker to the group.  Politely, the group clapped.

Here’s the stupid mistake:  The speaker responded to the applause with this statement, “It’s nice to receive applause before you start a presentation because you never know what will happen afterwards.”Good grief, what was he thinking?!  Audience members form an opinion of a speaker in the first seconds of a presentation. 

Here is the speaker announcing he might lose control of the speech.  Who would want to listen to him, let alone hire him?!

The first words out of this person’s mouth should have formed a connection or delivered some value for the client.  Once a speaker starts off on a negative foot, it’s hard to recover.

Here’s the solution:  Self-deprecating humor is fine, and sometimes it’s desirable—but NOTas you introduce your speech and NOT about your competence.  As you begin a speech, strive to do the following three things.  When you introduce your speech with each of these elements, you are off to a strong and credible start.

  1. Attract the audience’s attention with an interesting statistic, a brief and relevant story, or a provocative quote or question.     
  2.  Create a connection between you and the audience.  Touch on a value or an experience you have in common.
  3.  Establish your credibility as an expert or someone who is well-prepared to address the audience

Introduce your speech with a combination of these three elements, and you can be sure that you start off with a solid start.

For ten techniques to introduce your speech, including examples, go to http://www.incrediblemessages.com/products.htm#howtowin.

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