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Hi, I'm Simon Bucknall and in 2008, I won the European Championship of Public Speaking. At the Art of Connection, we help ambitious professionals to connect with their audience and we do it by bringing world class communications expertise into the training room to enable our clients to persuade, influence and inspire others. Starting a presentation effectively is about achieving two simple goals. Number one, get your audience's attention. Number two, settle them in. Now, getting your audience's attention, well, there's a whole range of different ways you might do that. One is to surprise them. I know one speaker in the United States who talks to young people and he kicks off his presentation by striding down the aisle towards the stage, calling out “Mountain, get out of my way. Mountain, get out of my way.” I don't know what he means by that, the audience doesn't know, I doubt even the speaker knows what he's talking about. But it sure gets the audience's attention. Another technique you can use is even simpler. Just pause. Take your time. W Mitchell, one of the most successful international keynote speakers in the world starts his presentation with a 5, 6, even 7-second pause, because very quickly, audience members start getting curious. There's a speaker on the stage but they're not saying anything. What's that about? It's a great way of getting your audience's attention. Another way which you can get people's attention is to talk about something that you and the audience have in common. Maybe it's the temperature in the room or the location you're in, anything that you share. What's important is that you try not to communicate a key message or a key point because the audience is still waiting to see whether you're worth listening to. It's about getting their attention. Once you've done that, then you can move in to settling the audience down, giving them an idea of where you're going to go with the presentation. What is it that you're going to communicate and most importantly, what are they going to get out of the presentation? Because if you can give them a reason to listen, then there's a good chance that your presentation will have far greater impact than if they're left wondering and confused about why they should even be there. So, those are the things. Find a way to get your audience's attention and once you've done that, settle them in and set out for them if you like a roadmap so they know where you're going and what they're going to get from the talk. .
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