Agendas are boring! Here are three attention-grabbing openers for your next client presentation.
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Just because you’ve got a room or conference call full of people there to listen to you doesn’t mean they’re excited to be there and ready to listen. Don’t underestimate how easy it is for them to check out, not listen, and just keep going about their day afterward.
A good opener gives them a reason to care and keep listening; something you just don’t get with agendas.
Agendas are boring because they’re predictable.
Much like movies, the beginning of every presentation should be gripping enough to command attention for the rest of the story. How else would you be able to communicate important stats and arguments if you lost your audience’s interest at the very first slide?
While agendas give your audience the proper foresight of what to expect in your presentation, truth be told, they’re just plain boring!
When is the last time you were blown away by an agenda slide?
How many times have you see an agenda like this:
Who we are
What we do
Why we do it
I literally almost fell asleep writing that!
Listing out a bunch of obvious items won’t make your audience pay attention. Instead, it does the complete opposite: it’s predictable, so your audience is more likely to check out.
There’s a high chance your audience already knows you’re there to talk about these topics. This is why it’s almost too easy for their eyes to simply glaze over and not pay attention.
Storytelling isn’t about listing a bunch of stuff. It’s about taking your audience along on a journey. How you start that journey can make all the difference.
Okay, so if agendas are boring, how do we fix it?
Easy! Think of surprising, attention-grabbing, creative ways to start your presentation.
Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we?
Say you’re about to present a brand’s annual social media performance along with a few recommendations. Instead of listing your items in bullet points, we’ll show you three attention-grabbing openers you can use instead.
Opener #1: The Spoiler Alert
This opener is called “The Spoiler Alert'' because you’re giving away your entire presentation right off the bat. Usually, this works best with one to three short sentences. Four or more sentences just becomes too much. Also, a strong emphasis on short sentences, Ideally 7-10 words each or less.
It would go something like this:
This main benefit of giving away your entire deck right up front is this: if your entire audience checks out and stops listening right after you talk through this slide, they’ll still understand the majority of what you wanted to say! Will they get the details? Not from this slide. But they might start asking themselves questions in their heads, such as “wait, why Tik Tok and not Snapchat?” which will cause them to pay more attention than they would have otherwise.
See how that’s ultimately better than an agenda? It’s concise and straightforward while still providing a clear insight into what’s to come.
Opener #2: The Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino, the legendary film director, is a master of building mystery and suspense right in the first scene of his films. For “The Tarantino,” we’re taking a page from his book and putting a big, bold, and provocative statement about what’s coming right off the bat.
Here’s an example:
“Wait, why is Facebook dead?” your audience will ask themselves. Which is exactly what you want them to think! Because in a few short slides, you’re going to tell them.
Opener #3: The Soul-crushing Stat
Lastly, this third opener called “Soul-crushing Stat” is another way to spice up your intro slides. As the name suggests, we put our most soul-crushing stat from our entire deck right upfront. Don’t have a soul-crushing stat? Then put something negative up there. The idea is to make this foreboding, and almost ominous.
In our example, we say this:
This assumes that the brand was investing dump trucks of money into Facebook. If they were, this would put a few jaws on the floor for sure. It’s a bit of a cheap trick in that it preys on the negativity bias that humans have – our tendency to focus on the negative more than the positive – and of course, this works best when you have a positive solution to the negative, soul-crushing stat.
Putting it into action
To summarize: agendas are boring and there are tons of other ways that you can grab your audience’s attention, while at the same time foreshadowing what’s going to be talked about in the presentation to come. Grabbing their attention in the beginning and then satisfying their craving for answers to their internal questions is an awesome way to ensure your clients lean in, listen, and absorb.