Whether you are making a presentation at your local library or to senior executives at your firm, the first 60 seconds set you up for success or failure.
Everything most precious to me in this world is the result of the first 60 seconds of a speech I gave on a cold day in Philadelphia. It was my turn to speak during a Wharton MBA Toastmasters program; I would be given a topic, and then would have to begin without advance preparation.
My topic turned out to be: explain why MBAs aren’t all greedy jerks.
Terrified of boring the audience, I decided to flip the topic and embrace the dark side. My speech was a rant about how MBAs are all-powerful masters of the universe (note to readers: I was kidding.)
An attractive woman came up to me afterward and said, “You are either utterly evil or the most creative speaker I’ve seen. Which is it?”
I had a good answer, and we’re married now.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Plan your opening in advance.
2. Visit the room ahead of time, and set it up to your liking.
3. Be prepared for problems and naysayers. (Practice what you will do if something goes wrong.)
4. Be immediately interesting. Don’t waste time on housekeeping notes.