Often in the blogging world, we are advised that picking a good title goes a long way to securing an engaged reader. Likewise, the same principle also applies to the art of securing your audience when giving a talk. And I'm of the opinion that taking some extra effort into crafting your opening statement is going to pay off in the long run.
If I could break it down, here are things to keep an eye out for when working out how to start your talk.
1. Should be short.
2. Should set the tone of your personality. Doesn't necessarily need to reflect the tone of the talk, but at least it can provide a brief character assessment of you, the presenter. In other words, if you are informal, by nature, this is a good spot to let that out.
3. Should be an effective transition into the main content of your talk. Effective usually translates into something that was memorable.
4. Things that work well for being memorable, include an opening that is just downright clever, funny often is nice, and if there's an element of surprise or an initial sense of "where the hell is this going?" then that is all good.
In any event, I often open my talks on "scientific literacy/what my lab does" with the following:
My Dad beat up Bruce Lee. (pause for effect)
No kidding: this is the absolute truth. My father and Bruce went to the same school in Hong Kong.
O.K. maybe beat up is too strong a word.
When I asked my Dad's old school buddies they would generally nod in agreement but maybe say that "pushed him around" is a little closer to reality.
Of course, my Dad was 10 at the time, and Bruce was maybe 7 or 8. (pause again for effect)
And that my friends is an example of spin...
Anyway, this one I'm quite happy with - seems to work quite well on all fronts.
Do you have a great opener yourself? Or have heard/seen one in the past? Would love ot hear about it in other posts or in the comments below. Who knows, maybe this could be the next idea station for another "public speaking video."
Pass the "how I open talks" or "the best opening at a talk I've scene" meme on!
Should set the tone of your personality. Doesn't necessarily need to reflect the tone of the talk, but at least it can provide a brief character assessment of you, the presenter. In other words, if you are informal, by nature, this is a good spot to let that out.nice