I found the follow post that was written by Craig Hadden, an instructional designer (training developer) living in Sydney (Australia).
You’ve likely heard it said that opening your talk with a startling statistic helps to grab people’s attention. But what exactly does that technique look and sound like?
In this post, you’ll see 3 clear examples on video, and I’ll discuss key takeaways from each. So you’ll come away with solid tips you can use in your own talks.
Ultimately, I hope these examples inspire you to use some startling statistics yourself.
For easy reference, here’s what he said:
“Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat,
four Americans that are alive will be dead –
through the food that they eat.” [25 words]
Key takeaways – video 1
Jamie made his opening line personal… in 3 specific ways
I love that Jamie made his opening line personal – by tailoring it to his audience in 3 specific ways:
- By scaling the death rate to “the next 18 minutes”, he matched his statistic to the audience’s current moment (instead of quoting a less tangible annual figure).
- Rather than using words like “my talk” (which would in effect ignore his audience), he included people (and set the scene as an informal 2-way conversation) by saying “our chat”.
- As his talk was in the US, he made his statistic specific to “Americans” (rather than “people” or “Britons”, even though he’s clearly British).
Did you also notice how subdued he was during his opening? So don’t feel you need to start your talk with great passion – that’s hard to do (because of nerves). Let yourself gradually get into your flow, and your passion will come through more as you progress.
Also, by building momentum during your talk, you let the audience warm up to what you’re saying, and you add interest through more vocal variety. After all, as former World Champion public speaker Craig Valentine says:
So don’t feel you need to start with great passion – or have the same level throughout your talk. In many ways, using a subdued manner when citing a startling statistic makes it stand out, through contrast.
Check out the rest of the blog post, including the 2nd and 3rd video examples by clicking here