How To Start And Finish A Presentation

Hi,in this article we will be giving you some important tips regarding starting the presentation or a speech and finishing it up perfectly.

HOW TO START

You’ve already decided on what your first point should be, and where you’re going from there. Now you need to decide how to start saying it!

Beginnings are hugely important. This is the point at which you set the scene for the whole of the presentation. The audience will be at their most receptive and full of curiosity. It’s at this point that they’re going to decide whether they like you; whether you’re going to be interesting; and whether they made the right decision in coming along at all.

Grab their attention now and they’re more likely to stay with you throughout the speech. Lose them at the beginning and you’ll never get them back.

BEGINNINGS SHOULD:

·         have impact

·         have authority: show the audience you know your subject

·         show awareness of the audience’s needs, expectations and interests

·         be appropriate: don’t tell a dodgy joke to an audience of professionals expecting a political speech, and don’t let it jar with the rest of the speech

 

HOW TO CARRY ON

You have your Route Map, so let the audience in on the secret; tell them where they’re going. This isn’t a magical mystery tour – the less the audience knows, the more time they’re going to spend wondering, just when you want their attention.

Think about the times you have listened to speeches. If the speaker was boring you were drifting into a daydream, or trying to guess how long they were going to bang on because you were hungry/needed a wee/couldn’t wait to get to the bar, etc.

Tell the audience where you are taking them.

So when preparing the speech, make sure you’ve answered all their possible questions.

And don’t forget to present these in a positive light. Make the topic relevant, make yourself attractive to them, and tell them you’re not going to speak for long. Today, we’re so used to watching 60-second commercials. Airtime sales experts carefully place ads in programmes that the target market will be watching. So the ad is aimed at you, it’s also visually gorgeous, may contain great music, and it gets its message across. Phew! How can you possibly compete?

Well, you can compete, because your speech is targeted directly at the dozen or couple of hundred people in the room. You’ve got something interesting to say and if you put it across properly, they’ll listen.

Once you’ve answered their subconscious questions, move through the presentation by simply linking your different points.

Research has shown that most people have short attention spans. If you’re speaking for 40 minutes, they’ll start off listening intently and their interest will wane until it reaches its lowest ebb about 30 minutes into the speech. Then they’ll sense the end is near and they’ll perk up again.

But they’ll listen more intently and more consistently to four tenminute speeches. So why not try to break up your speech into shorter bursts, using visuals, a show of hands or some other stunt? You might even think back to those commercials and give your audience four five-minute breaks instead of one 15-minute break.

HOW TO FINISH BIG

In many ways, the ending is even more important than the opening. If you start well, keep them listening throughout the presentation and then limp to a sad little halt, that poor ending will undo all the good work you did at the beginning.

The ending is a chance to recap and should be the climax of your speech. When you are ending your speech:

DO pull people together.

DO reinforce the message.

DO call the audience to action.

There are a number of ways to ensure that your ending will prove a fitting climax. Here are some options:

LEARN IT BY HEART

Your finale should trip off the tongue and sound like you mean it. This is not a time for stumbling over your words. Make sure it’s smooth and delivered with confidence.

GIVE ADDED VALUE

Today, we’ve looked at eight main points – People, Response, Organisation, Growth, Results, Excellence, Service and Sustainability. Put them all together, and we have PROGRESS.

Ending with a punchy and memorable little message should certainly help everyone to remember what it was you were talking about.

ADD DRAMA OR EMOTION

Above all, we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister: the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.

Earl Spencer, at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 September 1997, taken from The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches.

Fortunately, not everyone will have to give such an address, but an emotional or highly dramatic sting in your speech’s tail will certainly make it more memorable.

GIVE AN IMPORTANT FACT

As you know, our main competitor has just been taken over. I’ve found out that the new parent company has one million pounds to invest in researching new markets. If we’re to remain market leader, we need to act now.

Something which is of great importance to your audience will have the same effect as a dramatic or emotionally charged ending.

PROVIDE A PAY-OFF YOU SET UP AT THE BEGINNING

So I’d like to say a special thank-you to Tracey for becoming my wife. I think you’ll all agree that she makes a beautiful bride – and that she’s really achieved something today: all her makeup done to perfection and only 10 minutes late at the church!

A pay-off line provides a neat, well-rounded ending.

DON’T stare at an empty page, agonizing about how to start. Write the main body of the speech first. So feel free to skip the beginning and come back to it later. You’ll probably then find the beginning writes itself.

The key to a good intro is simply this: give the audience a reason to listen. There are several ways of doing this. Here are some examples:

1 Promise them something they want

I’m going to tell you about a product that will save you time and money AND improve your love life.

2 Tell them it’s going to be short and simple

I know you’ve given up your free evening to be here tonight, so I’m only going to make three short points.

3 Tell them a story

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing-craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Ronald Reagan, 6 June 1984, taken from The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches.

4 Create an image

Before I came here tonight, I went to visit little Johnny Smith in hospital. Johnny – a boy we’ve often seen trotting off to school – was lying in a hospital bed, fighting for his life, hooked up to all kinds of monitors and machines.

5 Shock them

I speak to you as a man who fifty years and nine days ago had no name, no hope, no future and was known only by his number, A, 70713.

Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, 27 January 1995, taken from The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches.

6 Make ’em laugh

The first time I took Tracey out on a date, I went to her house to pick her up. Her dad said she was just putting the finishing touches to her makeup. And then he said: �?Fancy a game of chess?’

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