If there’s one part of a speech I hate the most, it’s the agenda slide most speakers present at the very beginning of their talks.
How many times have you seen an intro slide that looks something like this?
I have at least three problems with that type of agenda slide:
1. It Doesn’t Get The Audience “In The Tent”
The opening minutes of a presentation are often the most important. According to Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of The Definitive Book of Body Language, the audience forms 60—80 percent of its impression of a speaker within the first four minutes of a speech. This slide does nothing to create a positive impression.
2. It Makes PowerPoint The Star
At the beginning of a speech, you should establish yourself as the main attraction. Why would you want to share credit with a screen?
3. It’s Low Value
Worst of all, that type of agenda slide isn’t even close to the most compelling way to share that information.
But since it’s often a good idea to give the audience a sense of what material you plan to cover, what should you do?
First, kill the agenda slide. You can cover the agenda verbally.
Second, don’t begin your speech with the agenda. Open with something more interesting—a compelling story or statistic, for example (here are eight great ways to open a speech). When you’ve finished the opening, then deliver your agenda.
Third, make it short. Most agendas don’t require lengthy explanations. If you can accomplish your entire agenda in one sentence, do it:
“So today, we’ll discuss what we learned in 2012 and how those lessons led to changes in our mission statement; and we’ll talk about our goals for 2013 and how some new regulatory changes will affect the way we accomplish them.”
Fourth, consider whether you really need an agenda at all. For presentations in which you’re telling a story that builds to a rousing conclusion, an “agenda” might undercut your closing and make your conclusion less impactful.
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