Asking Questions at the Beginning of a Presentation

March 23, 2010 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Introduction, Organizing Your Content, Presentation, Video

Have you ever asked a question at the beginning of a presentation and gotten nothing back from your audience?  Awkward, huh?  This comes up often in our presentation skills workshops.  Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication, addresses this issue in today’s video blog.

QUESTION:
I like to start things off by asking a bunch of questions.  Sometimes this works, but sometimes people just stare at me and don’t want to participate.  How can I avoid this awkward feeling?

Provide Structure through your Presentation’s Introduction

March 16, 2010 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Preparation, Presentation

As you know, a well-organized presentation has three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.

  1. The introduction gives your audience a sense of direction and purpose, and a reason to listen.
  2. The body is, of course, the main part of your presentation, where you deliver the details of your topic.
  3. The conclusion summarizes what you’ve said, outlines next steps and closes the sale, if necessary.

Because it’s natural for presenters to focus most of their time on the body of their presentations, they often miss the chance to take advantage of what their introductions can do.

The process of developing an introduction helps the presenter zero in on the core issues.
If you’ve participated in one of our workshops, some of this should seem familiar. While most presenters understand that a good introduction helps listeners get motivated and focused, what they often don’t realize is that the process of creating an introduction also helps them.

As I said above, the first minute or so of your presentation should provide purpose, direction and a reason to listen. The result is that your introduction gives listeners confidence in you as a presenter. It tells them that you know what you’re doing, you’ve done your homework and you’re aware of their perspective. And, most important, that you’re in charge of the presentation of information and not just the information itself. The distinction is crucial. It’s one of the things that distinguishes confident, engaged presenters from those who are trapped in their own little bubble at the front of the room and never break out of it.

From your perspective as a presenter, the process of preparing an introduction forces you to zero in on the core issues of your presentation. When you really think about what your presentation means to your audience – independent of what it means to you – you’ll have an easier time narrowing your focus, articulating a simple agenda and eliminating unnecessary information. The benefits of that process will be felt throughout your presentation, and the way to make it happen is by disciplining yourself to create a concise  introduction.

The Four Parts
The first step is to break your introduction down into 4 steps and create a slide for each one, making sure that you use brief, parallel bullet points on each slide:

  1. Title. The title of your presentation should be meaningful, referring to the goal of your presentation or one of the benefits listeners will gain from it.
  2. Current situation. This is a brief description of what’s going on with your audience at the beginning of your presentation. Sometimes it describes their frame of mind or a problem they’re facing. The more accurate the current situation, the more credibility you have.
  3. Statement of Purpose (or Recommendation in a persuasive situation)  & Agenda. You can determine the purpose of your agenda by completing this sentence, “At the end of my presentation, I want my audience to (what)?” Your agenda should contain the 3 to 5 main topics you plan to cover.
  4. Benefits to Audience. This slide lists what your audience will gain by doing what you’re asking them to do or understanding what you want them to understand.

Hanging It All Together
Once you’ve created these four slides, try them out to see if they work together to achieve the goals of a good introduction. You may find that you’d like to remove or rearrange slides depending on your topic, audience or goals. That’s fine. Just be sure that the final version of your introduction can be delivered in about a minute and gives your audience purpose, direction and a reason to listen.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication


Learn more at www.TurpinCommunication.com and www.OnlinePresentationSkillsTraining.com