Presentation structure: Introductions that win you control


by Peter Watts

“Who is this person, what do they want from me, and how long have I got to sit here?”

Welcome to the internal dialogue of someone about to hear a presentation. The introduction’s goal is to answer those questions, creating an audience ready and willing to listen.

Who is this person?

Who you are and who you represent are foremost with any new audience. Even with groups already familiar to you, if there is just one new face at the table, include a personal introduction.

Briefly include what qualifies you to be speaking. Does your current sphere of responsibility or qualifications make you a specifically credible source on this subject? If so, include it within your introduction. State it succinctly, avoiding any appearance of self-importance.

What do they want from me?

Align your presentation to the objectives of the audience. Intrigue them with how your product / service / idea will help them. This audience is about to give you the investment of their time. State what their return will be on that investment.

Share up-front the objective of the presentation so the audience understand the destination you are heading for.

How long have I got to sit here?

Map the structure of your presentation onto a slide or flip-chart that shows what will be covered and when. Similar to horses that becomes jittery when they sense a rider is not secure with the reigns, audiences need to know you have a clear plan of action. 

Within your agenda include how long the presentation is to last, and how you would like to handle questions: as they arise or during a Q&A session at the end.

Earning control

For the duration of your time at the front of a room, you must be in control, and that control can only be exercised with the willing compliance of the audience. Keystone behaviors for the introduction are therefore humility, warmth, and confidence. Think about the qualities you like presenters to project. Reflect those qualities, answer the audience’s early unspoken questions, and you will have successfully launched your presentation with the strongest of possible starts.



Comments

  1. Primrose says:

    i need a good introduction about Tuberculosis i am presenting about it!

    • Hi Primrose

      Great to hear from you, and thanks for your question.

      The most important thing is to ask yourself the question “What do I want everybody in the audience to be saying as they leave the room”? In the answer to this question, you’ll find ideas for your introduction.

      For example, do you want them feeling upbeat that tuberculosis is now being cured in so many countries? Do you want them feeling concerned that so many new cases are diagnosed in the third world? Do you want them feeling the urgency of fund-raising or campaigning to raise awareness?

      The beginning depends on the outcome that you want to achieve. Be really clear in your mind about that outcome, and those intro ideas will soon come.

      Let me point you towards this blog post as well for more ideas:

      Let me know how it goes
      Peter

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