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Speaking Tips: The Powerful Open

How often do you sit in a meeting, or on a conference call, or listen to a presentation, and feel disengaged within the first five minutes? Yep… me too.

It usually takes people forever to simply get to the point, and find ways to engage the audience. And by the time they do, it usually is too late for many in the audience. They have already checked out.

So how do we open in a more powerful way, so we get our audience engaged and listening right from the start?

Try this… instead of the slow, steady build up to the big conclusion, treat the open as if you have two minutes to have the entire meeting. If you only had two minutes in front of your audience what would you say? Would you waste it on reading the audience the agenda, which is the way most people open their presentation? No… if you only had two minutes, you probably would not waste it on the agenda. You would probably provide a short executive summary. What are we talking about? Why is it important? What are you recommending? What are the benefits of the recommendation? What are you asking for? When do the next steps begin?

If you only had two minutes, you would probably want to spend your precious time answering questions like these. If you only had two minutes, you wouldn’t want to waste any of it on an agenda.

So the point here today is that you should treat your open as if you have a maximum of two minutes to get your macro message out. Focus on that. Give your audience an executive summary. Tell them the conclusion up front.

And then, if necessary, you can descend into the detail. But if you open in a powerful way, the audience will be more engaged, the detail will make more sense, you will have a better meeting, and you will be much more likely to get the outcome that you want.

Good luck.

At The Latimer Group, we believe that great communication skills can change the world. We transform people and organizations with simple, repeatable techniques and mindsets. We teach persuasive communication skills through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and eLearning. To learn more about how we can transform your organization, e-mail us at

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