8 dreadful ways to begin a presentation

Many speakers dip in a verbal toe—primarily to quell their own jitters—but rather than breaking the ice, they leave the audience cold. Here are opening lines to discard.

Many speech beginnings, unfortunately, don’t do their speakers or their audiences any favors. Some are small mistakes, and some are more fundamental, but they’re all unnecessary.

The first line of your speech is the point of maximum excitement and openness for the audience. The speaker has to meet those expectations with something equally exciting.

How are you starting your speeches? Don’t use any of these clunkers, please.

1. “I’m glad to be here.” This default opener is a polite nothing. It squanders precious mental real estate. Don’t waste your time or the audience’s.

2. “I can’t hear you.” Polite nothings are small errors. Haranguing your audience is a larger one. The audience’s attention is a gift bestowed on the speaker. Don’t abuse the gift by yelling at your audience. You’re not a PE teacher.

3. “Let me tell you a little bit about myself.” Don’t do it. Nobody cares. If you’re really fascinating, you will have been introduced by someone else who will have said all the interesting stuff already. Audiences want to know why they are there, not who you are.

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