We have all been in this situation. You are up in front of a group of boisterous people, be they talented sales people at training session, a group of restless teenagers at a youth group meeting, or a local interest group at a monthly meeting.
The hall is filled with conversations and greetings and the time to start is approaching. As you have read from me previously, I emphasize the importance of the first four minutes in presentations in the perceptions of your audience. Thus, the importance of getting the attention of the audience in an assertive and positive way.
Most people will say something passive such as “Um, OK everyone, let’s get started.” Or, “It looks like it is time to start…”
The problem here is that the talking will taper and most people will miss your beginning which will compromise your first four minutes. You need to assertively quiet everyone, pause, and then launch into your fantastic presentation.
Here are three ways to get started with a bang.
First is the use of your command voice. In a tone louder than you intend to use for your presentation, call attention to yourself and wait calmly for the room to quiet. Take an assertive stance, smile and then begin your presentation. Use declarative language, do not be apologetic and start strong.
One of my favorite examples is the starter at golf tournaments. At the crowded first tee, the starter will start out with “Fore, please… Now on the tee is John Smith from Ocala, Florida.” Then the golf claps will start and complete quiet will greet the golfer preparing to hit the tee shot. If you are ever a golf tournament, be sure to spend some time at the first tee and learn from this lesson in getting a crowd’s attention.
Second, the use of music can be very effective. In the right context, a song may be started and joined in by everyone. This has been employed for years by youth group leaders to great results.
Finally, here is an effective method that combines elements of the first two methods. Try this method for a delightful result. While the crowd is talking, in a command voice say, “If you can hear the sound of my voice, clap once.” Some of the noise will abate and you can say, “If you hear the sound of my voice, clap twice.” Most, if not all of the noise will quiet. For effect or just for fun, you can go to well one more time and say, “If you hear the sound of my voice, clap three times.” The room will be silent and you can enthusiastically start your presentation. I have even playfully thanked the participants for clapping for the presentation. Be prepared for some laughter, but this method will surprise and delight your audience and set the tone for a great program.
Try any one of these methods and you will find that getting off on the right foot makes the entire day go smoothly and successfully.