Monday, January 11, 2010

Starting a presentation with a bang

In a recent ABC News story by Matt Gutman, he describes how Miami Dade Police Officer Gene Lopez opens each of his presentations on airport security. Officer Lopez interacts with a video clip to dramatically get the attention of his audience. I encourage you to read the description in the news story.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from this powerful and effective opening to a presentation. First, it grabs attention because it is unexpected. The audience does not expect such a graphic demonstration and it forces them to pay attention. If you are starting each presentation with an agenda, you aren’t grabbing their attention.

Second, the opening is relevant to what the topic of the presentation is. He does not start with a joke, a story or thanking people for coming to the session. He shows them in a graphic way what the benefit is of listening to his message. If you are starting with meaningless banter, you have already started to lose the audience.

Third, he effectively uses the visual medium. Because he interacts with the video, he demonstrates that his use of visuals will not be the normal reading of text off the slides. If you are still using slides that are mostly text, check out my book The Visual Slide Revolution for a five-step method to create persuasive PowerPoint visuals.

A great opening is essential to grab the attention of the audience and set the stage for your message. Use some of the ideas that we see Officer Lopez demonstrate in his presentation to improve your next presentation.


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