When a projector is out of focus, the images on the screen are fuzzy, leaving the viewer uncertain as to what he is actually seeing. His mind darts from blur to blur trying to make sense of the shapes on the screen.
But once the projector is in focus and the images emerge crisply, the viewer feels a sense of relief.
The same holds true for the content in the beginning of a speech or presentation. No one likes to sit in a meeting room and wait to understand what point a presenter is trying to make. Listeners don’t like fuzziness.
For the audience, a presentation should be a quick, easy way to gain information–and the beauty of it is that you are in control of what that information is and how it is presented. In other words, you can shape it to be useful and appealing to your specific audience.
What would happen if you stood up and said, “Yesterday, our drug was turned down by the regulatory authorities. (Pause.) We know why and we have a plan to succeed in the next round. Let me walk you through it.”
In short, hit them hard with a focused message right at the start. Once you’ve done that, you can select a limited number of vivid details to bring your message to life.
And remember, if you begin with a dramatic problem that causes your listeners anxiety, their eyes will open wide, and you will have their attention as you propose your various solutions.