Presentation skills: Opening with impact – as easy as ABCD

About Alison Miles-Jenkins
Alison is the founder and Chief Executive of Training To Achieve. She is a people development expert with over 30 years experience. Alison has coached, mentored, and trained thousands of people in the UK and Internationally. Alison founded Training To Achieve in 1990 and has a highly respectable team of Go-To Trainers. She is also a highly sought after speaker in the Learning & Development Profession. Connect with Alison on Google+

This week’s guest blog is designed to help improve your presentation skills and is brought to you by Lois Grant, one of our team.

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Opening sentence of George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’

Did that grab your attention? Are you intrigued? Perhaps it even makes you want to read the book? Opening a presentation with impact is critical as we are wired to remember what we see and hear first and last. When you are presenting, if you want to stand out from the rest, you need to do something a little different. And that is as easy as ABCD…………

A = Attention

My attention is drifting, make me sit up and listen

Start with one of the following: a question, a bold claim, some news, a quote, a brief personal story, some music, a striking fact or statistic, do something dramatic, get them to do something etc. Choose something that will get your audience thinking “This looks worth staying for.”


“In a major survey carried out in the USA into people’s biggest fears, 41% of the 3000 respondents said that public speaking was their No 1 fear, even ahead of financial ruin and death.”

B = Benefits

So what? Why am I here and what am I going to get out of it?

What will the audience gain from listening to you? What will they be able to see, hear, try out etc? Will they be able to get involved? What will they be able to do as a result of your presentation?


“If you are someone who shares those feelings, don’t despair because by the end of today, you will be equipped with some new knowledge and skills which will give you more confidence when structuring and delivering any kind of presentation……………………”

C = Credentials

Why should I listen to you?

What gives you the right to be speaking to this audience? What are your background/experience/qualifications?


“My name is Lois Grant and as a trainer I have given numerous presentations so not only do I appreciate how it feels to stand up in front of a lot of people and attempt to maintain their interest but I also hope that I can pass on the benefit of my experience to you…………”

D = Direction

What will we be doing?

How will you approach this – in what order and how long will the presentation take? People like to know what to expect. Give an outline of what you plan to achieve.


“Today you will have the opportunity to design and deliver a presentation to the rest of the group. Please feel free to ask questions as we go and I will also allow time at the end of the day……..”

What next:

• Use the ABCD Opener for your next presentation and notice the difference it makes – to how you feel and to the response you get from your audience.

• Join me next month for some more presentation skills tips, this time on structuring the main body of your presentation.

Lois Grant

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