The value of establishing audience rapport quickly is fundamental to the success of any presentation or talk. This not only relaxes you, the speaker, but gets the audience aligned with the objectives and flow of the talk. A popular method is to use “ice breakers” in the form of asking questions and getting audience responses. Another is to play games with your audience at the beginning, getting them to participate. Humour, if properly planned and used cleverly, is another effective tool but often the most dangerous, as it can backfire if not used convincingly.
Whichever you choose, it’s best to involve your audience and even get them to make some kind of commitment up front. Your chances of persuading people to do what you are suggesting they should do is determined far more by whether or not they like and trust you rather than what you are saying. The outcome of your talk is often decided by how you open. So get involved with your audience and talk to them, not at them. The degree of your success will be determined by how well you connect.