When does your next presentation really begin?

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Presentation Hero has just begun its journey.

We’ve reached 100 subscribers! (Actually it’s already over 130).  In email marketing terms this number may seem small, even irrelevant, but what I see is something different, it’s a beginning. In February this conversation did not exist. The idea of saving the world from bad presentations was still in the closed quarters of my hard drive and you, well, were undisturbed by yet another training product.

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This beginning is like the beginning of any presentation.  Let me explain: right now I am sending breadcrumbs around the internet inviting the world to discover more about Presentation Hero.

This is like inviting attendees to your next meeting or sending tickets to registrants of a conference.

Not convinced yet? Read on.

Do you think that your presentation actually begins when you pick up the microphone, display your first slide and start talking? Well, in my opinion it starts way earlier.

Your presentation can exist only in the eyes of your audience. Before that time, while it’s locked inside your hard drive, it can do do no harm and no good.

But how does “first contact” with the audience happen? The medium can be as diverse as it gets.

It may be a flyer at a community center, it may be an Outlook invite to a meeting, it may be a conference website where you are listed as a speaker, it may be a cool looking paper invitation sent out to a selected elite.

It may be a presentation so important that the invitation goes viral and is subject to speculation – this happens when Apple invites the press for a new event.

Your invitation may appear on a banner ad, inside a newsletter.

You may present yourself with just a name. That is great if you are Seth Godin or Al Gore. You may introduce the title of your talk, and it better be good. You may be part of the program of a conference with a short bio and a brief description of your talk.

These materials set the expectation for your presentation. Your audience has found and maybe even noticed those breadcrumbs that you have spread around. Or maybe not at all.

Maybe they are looking at your first slide, right before you start talking, and this is how they learn something about what is going to happen.  Maybe they have no expectations and are ready to daydream, check their cellphone, chat with their neighbor.

Your presentation may be a blast. You could captivate everyone from the way you say “hello”. But in most cases you need to build momentum in advance.You need to build interest, expectations and give to your audience bigger and better breadcrumbs – maybe even a slice of the cake.

You are always in control of the message: if you are calling the meeting you should be able to craft a good subject, an interesting agenda, clear timing and objectives.

If someone else is organizing, you can still contribute with the title and, maybe, with a description of your talk. You can communicate also with the kind of portrait you use for the conference materials.

All these assets lead to the level of expectation and attention that your audience will have when you say “hello”. They determine the level of attention and engagement of your audience in the first 60 seconds of your presentation.

After the early introduction – made of the breadcrumbs we have talked about, there is another type of introduction. 

The immediate introduction may be the organizer introducing you. And introductions don’t even end there. You could consider that the first 60 to 120 seconds of your talk as a third introduction.

Most everyone attending will listen to you at least for the first 30 seconds. Probably everyone will glance at what you are projecting on screen at least once. Make those moments count, design those first slides with craft because they are crucial to the success of your talk.

Want more presentation advice for free? Subscribe to Presentation Hero right now. Not so sure yet? Click below and you’ll know exactly why I am asking for your email address.

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