This Cryptic Phrase Can Set Your Talk On Fire

Your presentation is not well organized unless you kindle a quick flame of spontaneous interest in your opening sentence.

Smokers do not like matches that fail to light with the first scratch, and listeners don’t like speakers who fail to capture interest with the opening sentence.

When you walk to the front of the room, don’t picture your audience as waiting with eager eyes and bated breath to watch your presentation.

Picture it, instead, as bored and suspicious that you are going to make this situation worse.

In fact, picture your listeners as looking uneasily at their watches, stifling yawns, and giving vent to a unanimous “HO HUM.”

The opening sentence of your presentation should be like the first scene of Saving Private Ryan, when Tom Hanks, hands shaking, takes a slug of water from his canteen as he’s about to lead his men onto Omaha Beach on D-day.  Your first sentence must crash through your audience’s initial apathy.

Don’t open your talk on cyber security with, “I’d like to talk to you today about a subject that is feared, ignored, and misunderstood, and that is the subject of cyber security.”

Say, instead, “When you lose your data, you lose your money, your memory, and sometimes, your mind.”

Don’t open your talk on the need to fund relief in war-torn South Sudan with, “I would like to draw your attention to the problems we are encountering in Africa.”

Say instead, “There are plots of land in South Sudan that you can walk across without touching the ground because they are thick with the bodies of butchered children.”

Don’t say good morning.  Don’t say thanks.  It’s boring, predictable, and the previous six speakers have already said it! Walk on stage, look at the audience, and say something that will get their attention.

Your audience is not that into you. Wake them, shake them with an opening sentence that will capture their interest immediately.

Picture them yawning. Picture them “HO-HUMMING.” And then lift them out of their seats with a powerful opening sentence.

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