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As a business owner or entrepreneur, you are your company's best and most powerful marketing tool. Your ability to involve others in order to include them in your message – whether it is your business or otherwise – can make all the difference between active and disinterested listeners.
Regardless of whether you are reaching out to investors, presenting to a potential client or reporting the annual status of the annual report, the interest in your presentation will spark interest or make you bored.
Think of a presentation that you saw or gave that achieved the former, and then think of your answer to this question: why was it so effective?
You are likely to think of words like: engaged, dynamic, interesting, energetic, relevant, humorous, thought-provoking, well-designed, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.
But the real reason the presentation sizzled and had it all in the hand of the presenter was a little word not listed above: "Why".
The main reason adults listen to you is because they know why they should listen to you. When presenting in a virtual environment, it is doubly important that you immediately state the "why". In our present moment, with the advent of remote meetings, and with it the increased accessibility of distractions like email, social media, and the internet in general, it is difficult to truly grab an audience's undivided attention. This means that you need to grasp their imagination and quickly. Notice the main reason they sit up, watch, lean, and want more. In other words, pay attention to the "why" of your presentation.
To do this, write the opening words of your presentation using points in time – past, present, and future – to bring the entire audience to the edge of their seats.
Related: How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
Start with a focus on the past
Before entering your presentation, where were your listeners relative to your topic? What situation did you come from that led you to your presentation? What did you think What do you need? What do they want from your message that you want to convey?
Transition to the present
How are you going to approach your situation with the presentation you are going to give? How are you going to speak to what you think? How do you give them what they need or want? What information will you provide? What are you going to do now?
look into the future
Clarify what everyone's future will be when you participate in your presentation
Where will they be after your presentation? What can you do after your presentation? What is the total solution they will have after listening to you? Future pace them. Let them see the finished project and enjoy the finished product.
Related Topics: Own The Stage: Here's why your presentation should be based on a big idea
Here's an example of what this looks like based on the opening script of a presentation I once hosted, titled "Presentations That Stop the Bubbling and Make the Sizzling:"
“How can you quickly grab the attention of your audience regardless of your presentation topic? How can you reach the audience without a lot of frills? How can you consistently be considered an expert when you speak, even if you're new to your industry or if the ink on your college degree is still damp?
In this session you will know …
This is how you give your audience a reason to listen.
The four things you need to do at the start of every presentation.
The questions you should never ask and what to ask instead.
The three part process to demonstrate your expertise and change the way you approach your presentations forever.
By the time we're done, you'll know how to deliver presentations that stop the hiss and bring the hiss.
My name is Bridgett McGowen and I help professionals be the most dedicated, dynamic, and incredible communicators ever. "
You immediately received the agenda, the presentation goal and a reason to listen. I told you all of this before I told you my name.
While this is a small meta-example (i.e. a presentation on presentations), it is important to remember that the surest way to excite an audience is by understanding the topic you are presenting on , get to the point.
Related: The 12 Parts of a Successful Signature Presentation
This example brings up the past by confirming that the audience came to the presentation to know how to get the audience's attention quickly regardless of the presentation topic, how to involve the audience with no frills, and how to be consistent be seen as an expert when you speak.
The present is addressed by the provision of the agenda: "In this session you will know …"
Then the future is addressed with a line: "When we're done you will know how to deliver presentations that stop the bubbling and get the sizzling."
Use this approach to address the past, present, and future in your opening words and you will always have your audience in hand. All you have to do is deliver.