This week we have seen Joanna Lumley in brilliant pitch mode. Seemingly effortless, she has outshone Gordon, of course, as he stumbles from one disaster to the next but also the articulate attack dogs , Cameron and Clegg.
Her performance combining charm, theatrical timing with passion, is near perfect and something most of us can only dream about, particularly if the dreaded presentation nerves are a factor.
In any competitive situation some nervousness, the adrenaline rush, is natural and ‘harnessed’ will help communicate the depth of commitment. However, nerves can undermine confidence particularly at the all important start of the presentation. So if you rehearse nothing else, rehearse how you start!
Often the easiest way to break the ice, even before the agenda etc, is to tell a ‘story’. This can be from relevant personal experience, a topical news item of that day, something that allows you to start conversationally and engagingly, rather than pre-sent-ation-ally. Putting you and your audience at ease.
In her excellent site ,www.speakingaboutpresenting.com , Olivia Mitchell has this to say about ‘The Story Opening’:
” Opening with a story helps you to be conversational and establish rapport with your audience. Stories allow you to subtly establish your credibility without bragging, add humour…and gently raise controversial issues. In fact, stories are such effective openings that there is no need to move to anything else.”