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Know Your Opening Lines

Sandra Muse Kuhlmann

"What do I say?" How often do you ask yourself this question? Occasionally, we all wonder, "What am I going to say?" More often than not many of us are plagued with this question. For those of us either in a position of leadership or aspiring to be in such a position, how we answer this question is important. "What we say" has direct bearing on how our audience views us, if our listeners trust us, if they buy our ideas, and how generously they allot us their most precious commodity, their time.

Earning and holding the attention of listeners is a responsibility of leadership. For not only does a leader need followers, but willing, eager followers and loyal fans. Knowing how to handle the issue of "What do I say?" is one part of effective leadership.

Consider the following idea, and I assure you that you won’t be stumped so often by the question, "What do I say?"

What’s my idea? "Know your opening lines."

This idea cannot solve all or even most of your presentation problems. Delivering results-oriented presentations is both a skill and an art. However, it can profoundly affect how generously your listeners grant you their attention, their time, and their loyalty.

For example, say the following opening lines and consider the results.

Experience has taught me…

My research indicates…

                             …builds your credibility.

You may be glad to know…

Here’s an idea that may help…

                            …shows your audience you care.

If I have heard you correctly…

It seems to be important to you that…

                             …lets your audience know you have be listening

Could you please repeat your question?

Pause and take a breath…

                             …gives you time to think.

My favorite story is…

The best example I can think of is…

                             …makes for attentive listeners.

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