The old adage by Will Rogers "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression", holds true even with the most sought out professional speaker. Bruce Kasanoff from Now Possible, recently shared on LinkedIn that the first minute of a speaker's stage presence will garner his or her success ratio with the audience.

It boils down to this: If they are engaged, they will listen. If they are not, they will quickly get distracted with their mobile devices.  

Kasanoff suggests that you implement the following when coaching your presenters: 

1)  Make certain your speaker has their opening down cold. 

If nothing more, have your presenter rehearse the first 2-5 minutes of their talk with you. Besides what is showing on the PowerPoint presentation equipment, take note of the speaker's: 

  • Body language — Is it open and inviting? 
  • Confidence Level  — Are they confident in their materials or seem to be stumbling with their slides? 
  • Demeanor — Are they happy to be there or is this another speech in a panel of many? Are they comfortable on stage? 

Make certain to guide them if you see any deficits and ask them to rehearse with you again. 

Have the speaker come back the day of the event to do a complete run through of their talk and to meet the AV technician. When renting audio visual equipment, make certain the following occurs: 

2) Expect the Unexpected. 

Make sure your speaker has backup for their backup. They should have memorized the first 60 seconds and the last. They must know their outline cold. They should have a hard copy of their presentation and if the presentation services audio visual equipment freezes, they should be able to go on in a fluid, calm manner. 

3) Stories are very successful. 

Ask them to draw the audience in with a true, heartfelt story that ties to their message. Stories are generally interesting but rarely used as an opening.  

4) Silence is undervalued. 

We have come to expect that our speaker will talk every moment they are on stage. Before and after they present, we expect music and lighting. Or networking. But pure, dead silence can work to a presenter's advantage — especially in the first 60 seconds — if they are doing something eye catching or impactful. Encourage your presenters to use silence, when and where it makes sense. 

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