To your audience you are never more interesting than when you start, when you enter the room or stand up, when you first speak. This first impression is often the deciding one and all that follows merely confirms this first instinctive reaction. (Obama overlooked this in the first television debate as he came on stage looking a loser. He did not recover from it.)
Most of us can readily state that this first impression is formed in as little as 30 seconds and yet will often spend even less time in its preparation. This is not laziness as most pitches enjoy ferocious and often frenetic effort from everyone. The fault lies in the misguided determination on the never-ending quest to improve content- at the expense of preparing the vital opening
Before launching into the agenda, your compelling proposition or creative solution, you and your team should ‘take the stage’ with an introduction that creates an impression, an impression that raises anticipation among your audience that they will enjoy meeting you and be positively surprised by what follows.
There is no magic formula to an opening . It’s a quesion of deciding you will make a lasting first impression, allowing time to be imaginative and then rehearsing to check the impression you intend is working. However some clues can be found in a recent TED/ED video-The power of a great introduction.
In this Carolyn Mohr discusses the writing of a thesis but many of her suggestions apply to the pitch. The most relevant is the advice to develop your introduction last! By then you know what you are trying to set up and the first, and last, impression you need.