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Presentation beginnings and endings should be the bookends of your information, strategically placed to capture the audience's attention, build your credibility, give a call to action, and make you memorable. In order to follow logical appeal, I invite you to always connect the dots that thread from the opening back to the close. If you started with a story, refer back to it in the close. If you asked an open ended question, provide a possible answer based on the information you shared.
What you choose to open and close with will progressively engage your audience. Now, depending on the context and your level of familiarity with the audience, you can decide which path to take from these suggestions. Deliver the facts. Open with a quote, a relevant and impactful fact, a statistic, or even a tagline from the morning's newspaper. Remember that your choice for an opening will have to tightly connect to the value added, the "so what", for your audience.
A startling but unrelated fact can quickly rob you of your credibility and lose the audience's attention. Invite the senses. If you choose to open with a story, serious, humorous, or dramatic, deliver it in a way that intrigues the audience's senses. Describe images, colors, settings, the immediate environment, feelings, mindsets. Assumptions, or even the background to the story.
If you ask them to be the protagonist and imagine a situation instead, add the same layer of senses and ask them to fill in the blanks. Have they ever felt this way? Do you get nervous when this happens? Ask for something. When you, as the speaker, ask a question, your intonation changes and people listen up. A question either directed to the audience or to yourself makes you, as the speaker, less monotone. When you use it in the introduction with a healthy pause, that question increases intrigue.
For example, for an opening to a course like this I could say, "Would you rather die "than give a presentation?" Now, that gets your attention. And the fact is, that people rank public speaking as a second highest fear next to death. You can ask the audience for a show of hands to a yes or no type of question or a nod if they've experienced what you're describing. Audience participation is always a great way to connect, as long as you know the group will play along. If you started with an open ended question, close with a reference back to it and connect the points you shared as the answer.
This higher engagement dimension of your presentation will include a call to action with the close, or a clear ask if you're making a persuasive presentation. Introductions and closings are the bookends of your presentation. Be strategic about them and practice them so your energy is strong and your message is clear.
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