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The horse charges at top speed as the knight bears down in the saddle holding tightly to his lance.

Compare that sentence to this one:

Every June and September, my adopted home-town of Arezzo, Italy puts on a medieval joust festival called the Giostra del Saracino.

The second one gives you the content, but the first one gives you captivating color.

Knight from Porta del Foro charges toward Buratto. Photo by Massimo Di Gorga

Knight from Arezzo’s September 2013 Giostra del Saracino. Photo by Massimo Di Gorga

People often talk about the power of first impressions, but still forget to pack some punch into the opening sentences of their presentations.    For the example of Arezzo’s joust festival, consider topping line number two with line number one.  Give your audience a one-two-punch!

  1. Don’t let the thank yous slow you down. Yes, you’ll probably need to thank your host for inviting you and everyone else for coming. It’s perfectly polite, but it’s also perfectly predictable and if you wax too long, potentially boring.  Give thanks sincerely and quickly and then power up!
  2. Storytime! Perhaps there’s a story about you and your host that could be woven into an interesting introductory anecdote related to your theme.  Perhaps you weave a story around your main theme.  As I wrote earlier this week, stories are great ways to engage your audience.
  3. Give a startling fact.  Open with a little-known statistic, a recent surprising headline, something that turns heads and makes your audience move to the edge of their seats.
  4. Speak in color not black and white.  Review your written introduction to determine if there are more active or engaging verbs and nouns you might switch in. Add in an attention-grabbing description or observation.  Obviously make sure to choose more interesting words that are still true to your authentic self.
  5. Show some passion.  Speak with some excitement about your topic.  Even if you’ve been introduced, make sure your audience knows what authority you have over this topic.  If you’re credible and passionate, you’re on your way to being a more compelling speaker.

Too often business professionals begin by diving right into content and forget about captivating their audience.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Spend some time crafting a compelling introduction.

Psychologists say it takes just 30 seconds for someone to make that first impression, so be sure you make those opening seconds count!

If you’d like to learn more tips how to make your introductions reach out and grab your audience, let me know! And for more information on Arezzo’s awesome joust festival, click this sentence to read my essay from earlier this month!

Til next time,

Baci, Gina

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