First impressions count. The first line of your business presentation really matters, it makes an impact. It's essential to your success presenting to an audience. How important? A group of people at Princeton University were asked to watch the opening line of an election speech and guess which candidate won the election. Guess what - from the opening - they could correctly guess who won. That's how important it is. Our first impressions are not only lighting fast, but they are pretty accurate as well. So when you stand up to speak, there’s a lot riding on your first sentence.
The first line, like a monologue, is called a hook. It hooks the listener. It makes them decide whether it's worth even listening to the rest of what you say.
We start with terrible opening lines like: "Hello My name is Jane Simpson and today I'm going to talk about SEO analytics."
There are a few key things to keep in mind when crafting the perfect opening line for your business presentation.
GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
Opening with 'Hello I'm..." leaves you dead in the water. Get straight to the point. It will wake your audience up, they are so used to hearing boring shit, when you get to the point, they'll really prick up their ears.
Look at the way marketing expert Gary See opened his most successful speech.
“Nobody you know has become successful or created success –outside of being given to them from their family — without working their face off. It doesn’t exist! You can sit and talk about luck, this and that and the other thing, but I promise you that the only controllable thing you have is: your work ethic.
Here's a speech from Bill Clinton supporting Barak Obama:
"I'm not so grateful for the chance to speak in the wake of her magnificent address last night. But I'll do my best. Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she'll do everything she can to elect Barack Obama.
That makes two of us. Actually that makes 18 million of us — because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November. Here's why. Our nation is in trouble on two fronts: The American dream is under siege at home, and America's leadership in the world has been weakened. Middle-class and low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a big spike in the cost of food, utilities, and gasoline."
They get stuck in, from the beginning = they don't water it down - they get straight to the point.
The telling of a good story is based on the audience not knowing how it ends. If you want them to sit and listen and engage with you in your presentation, that requires suspense. The opening, the hook, is designed to grab attention. You establish mood and tone of the rest of the presentation with the opening line.
But like a good film or novel, you have to create suspense, make us WANT to hear the next bit, stimulate us, open, create mystery.
LEAD WITH A RHETORICAL QUESTION
Start with a rhetorical question, open with it. Imagine:
What's happened to our sense of community?
Where did we go wrong with internet marketing?
How do we move forwards after a terrible year for our business?
Rhetorical questions start the audience's mind going. But they don't seek an answer, they just get the audience thinking.
BE BRAVE AND HONEST
Fortune favours the bold. The audience need to be awakened from their slumber. Yes, it's the beginning of your presentation and they are expected for you to be a SNOOZE-fest. It's not personal, honest, it isn't. But they expect you to be a bore. Because all the other presentations they have seen were boring.
So open with something to shock them out of their complacent slumber. Make a bold statement.
"I need to make a confession..."
Imagine the suspense you've created. Imagine the interest and attention you have now.
In one sentence, you have everyone's attention.
Now what are you gonna do with it?