"Good morning, my name is Mark, and I am here to talk to you about health and safety in the workplace. A little bit of housekeeping for you; the toilets are through the doors on the right, and there will be a fire alarm test at 10.30. Now my apologies as this is not the most exciting presentation, and I have a lot to get through so let's get started with slide 1 of 113!"
Have you ever experienced a presentation like this? Did you feel the energy drain from the room? Did you automatically switch your mind to what shopping you needed to pick up on the way home? Was your first question, "What time is the break?"
There is so much research out there into how quickly people make an initial judgement, from two-hundredths of a second to seven seconds. Once we form that first opinion, we then spend the remaining time looking for evidence to support it.
According to Mark Bowden, the world-renowned body-language expert, peoples initial judgement when engaging with someone for the first time falls into one of four categories; friend, foe, partner and our natural default, indifferent.
Viewing someone with indifference essentially means that when they are speaking all the listener is hearing is low frequency static. Think a tumble dryer on setting 7!
So why do people still insist on opening their meetings, pitches, briefings and presentations with the same checklist; Introductions, agenda, bullet point slide, housekeeping, h&s, apologies, etc.? Habit? Security? Confidence? Inexperience?
We get one shot of making the right impact immediately, and our only responsibility in those opening 30 seconds is to get the attention of the audience. That's it! Simple!
We are beautifully complex creatures with an ever-expanding library of reference points, stories, analogies, experiences, questions, ideas, theories, opinions and reflections. We have an infinite opportunity to engage our audiences with authenticity and create an experience for them that invites them to connect genuinely.
Primacy and recency effects suggest that we are more likely to remember the beginning and the end, so how do you want to be remembered?