It’s not a pretty reality, but people often label your thoughts by the first few lines that come out of your mouth (or the first few lines you type). Opening lines are the determining factors of how hard it is to sell the rest of your speech. Start bad and it’s an uphill battle to re-convince people to listen to you.
As a general rule, avoid a generic greeting when opening up formal presentations, or video presentations. Keep the greeting till after you’ve made your opening statement. The last thing you want is to be lumped into the same group as every other Joe who made a generic opening greeting.
Here are a few template opening lines that are often used in the world of persuasion.
Solid Opening Lines for Persuasion
Ask a provocative question. Get people to question something they never thought of questioning before. Ask a question with an answer people would beg for. Questions make for instant engagement with an audience. This is because the focus is directed on them to use their own mental calculus to figure out the answer; thus the speech incorporates them and not merely the presenter. Presenters use a question as an opening line, and then answer it in the course of their presentation.
Common mistakes: Asking obvious questions, like “How would you like to become successful?” That’s a no-brainer; the more important question on their mind now would be one involving your credibility as a presenter.
2) Describe Something
Paint a picture of the world you see so that other may see it as you do. Tell others how your idea will change the way they see things, or the way they do things. Or tell them about a problem people face every day that is often ignored. Descriptive openings work well in characterizing the need for something and are usually excellent in business pitches when it comes to describing the market.
Common mistakes: Getting carried away. Descriptive openings are just openings; move on once you’ve created the emotional impact.
3) Promise Something
Tell me people what they can expect by the time you’re done presenting. This means telling them what you are going to share with them and how crucial it is. Presenters who use this technique usually open with an offer many would believe to be too good to be true.
Common mistakes: Sounding too sales-y. Begin with too outlandish an offer and you brand yourself as well….too good to be true.
4) A Piece of Data
Present a piece of data that will re-shape the way people think about things. Start with an interesting statistic that will give an insight into the content you wish to discuss. This is often best coupled with a descriptive opening. Be careful as to cite a source for the data. Credibility matters.
Common mistakes: Generic statistics like “There over a billion Facebook users today.” Uh-huh. Interesting. Let me pull up Wikipedia.
It’s an interesting post, Annetta, thank you!
You are right when you say that the first words you utter always set the tone for how people will see you. And it’s even more important in this multi-cultural world!
@ Cendrine Marrouat:
Thanks for expressing your appreciation Cendrine. Have a great day! 😀