Executive Studio Presentation Tip #3:
Know Your “Open” Cold!
We’re not talking about turning up the AC in the Conference Room. We’re talking about Nailing your Intro. Sticking the landing. Throwing a strike on the first pitch. But too often it doesn’t happen. We see this over and over and over in our work with clients, no matter how senior they are. Someone steps up to the podium and loses their audience before they get to the end of their first sentence.
The answer is pretty simple: They failed to connect on their first throw. Their first line is delivered to the floorboards. Their head was buried in their notes as they introduced themselves. They read from the page how “happy they are” to see everyone. Without ever looking up! Really? It looks to us like the only thing they’re happy to see is that sheet of paper in front of them. What a lost opportunity!
You know your name, right?
You know who you need to thank, right?
You know the reason you’re there to present, right?
If you know these things, you don’t need to read these things. That’s what we mean by “Know Your ‘Open’ Cold.” Know it, don’t read it. Say it and mean it. Look at the people, not your notes, on those critical first lines.
You should be able to walk up to the front of the room, to the podium, or look across the conference table and be able to say, without looking at any notes, the three most important things that begin any presentation:
• Your name/title (if you’re introducing yourself)
• A “thank you” to whoever is introducing you or spoke before you (and please, make it genuine!)
• Your intro sentence or a brief summary sentence describing what you’re going to be talking about.
Better yet, know your opening content three different ways!
These introductory things should be very simple for you to remember, so practice saying them three different ways. You will sound more natural when you step up to speak. You won’t “memorize” it so much as “get it in your bones” – dancers call it “muscle memory.” For you it’s just the certainty and confidence of knowing who you are, who you want to thank, and why you’re here. Here are 3 Examples:
• “Good Morning, I’m Sarah Chase, SVP of Eastern Retail Markets. Thanks so much, Joe, for that great introduction. I want to thank all of our conference sponsors for being with us here today.”
• “Thank you, Joe, for those very kind words of introduction. I’m delighted to be here. We have such good news to report, but first let me acknowledge all our generous sponsors.”
• “Hello, Everyone. I’m Sarah Chase. Most of you know me already, but if you don’t, I’m SVP of Eastern Retail Markets here at VYZ Corp. I’m very pleased to thank our sponsors for their enthusiastic support of this year’s conference.”
You get the picture. Whatever your introductory style is, you must know the substance. Once you connect with your audience at the very beginning – be it 2 people, 20, 200 or 2,000 – they’ll stay with you even as you occasionally dip your head into your notes as your get deeper into your presentation. If you’ve connected in a concrete way right at the beginning, then that feeling of connection remains with the audience as you draw them into the finer points of your talk.
Knowing Your Open ‘Cold’ will actually warm up the atmosphere! Funny how that works.