For years, I started my presentations in the same way everyone else did.
I'm Larry Kim! Welcome to (the name of my presentation). Here's the company I started. Here are a few places you might have read my writing. Here's a bit of background on my work experience, education, and a funny personal tidbit to make sure we keep this light and interesting.
Well, it took me a while to realize it, but that's not actually light and interesting at all.
In fact, it puts your audience to sleep.
Right off the bat, you're losing them. Because here's the crazy thing... are you ready for it?
No one actually cares!
I know, that sucks, but hear me out. People do want to know who you are and why they should listen to you; it's not that they don't care at all. They just don't need to hear all of that as soon as you take the podium.
In fact, they probably already have some inkling of who you are, since you're standing in front of them. You can assume there's some reason they've parked their butt in that chair in front of you and are willing to sit and listen to you for the next 5, 15 or 60 minutes.
Think about it... where do you find the author's page in every single published book on the planet? Not on the front page, that's for sure. It's at the back, where it belongs.
The beginning of any good story--in any format--grabs your attention. It piques your interest. It draws you in and makes you eager to hear more. Believe it or not, people will assume you have creds or you wouldn't be in the position to speak and present. It's not your resume that's going to win them over, it's your content.
So why are we wasting that precious opportunity to hook our audience by talking about ourselves?
Kicking off your presentation by introducing yourself is a fatal error.
It's the worst speaking mistake you can make!
So let's agree to stop it, okay? Not convinced? Check this out.
I decided to start changing it up, so I began my presentation at SearchLove in London this year like this: "Imagine a day in the not too distant future. You get into work only to find all of the search engine rankings gone, their fate determined by a new order of machine learning algorithms in microseconds."
I'm sure a few audience members were thinking, wth? Some were intrigued. Some were just curious. But they were all listening.
The next one I presented began, "97% of the conventional wisdom around conversion rate optimization is total and utter nonsense. Our story begins, once upon a time, in the magical landing page kingdom..."
Again, I completely skipped the introduction. There's time to do that later and you know, they have my Twitter handle, company name and bio in the program. I don't need to repeat it in my valuable presentation time!
Now I just jump right into the story I want to captivate my listeners and carry them through our time together. At Content Marketing Conference, I began, "Houston, we have a problem. Due to a freak accident in outer space, our target customer has been stranded on Mars!"
That got a few laughs. But you know what, I don't just want to start strong, and neither do you. Use that opening to launch the story your presentation sets out to tell.
The benefits are real. An organizer shared with me the audience feedback from one of these presentations and it was 100% positive, with 90% rating the presentation "excellent" or "outstanding." That's compared to the average 79% positive rating across the conference.
Don't waste your precious intro talking about yourself. Ain't nobody got time for that.