Early in June last year, I made what I considered a substantial investment in my speaking career – I paid for a morning of personal coaching with a man considered by many of the world’s most highly paid speakers as the best there is. But what astounded me was where his focus lay. “Show me how you start off” commanded Professor Ronald Arden. And so I did. Over and over again, until I got it the way he wanted to see it done. When we were finished, he was well pleased. “A morning well spent, methinks!” he proclaimed.
Six months later I received this feedback from Brian Matthews, the President of the Irish Chapter of the Professional Speakers Association of Great Britain after I’d addressed their meeting for 40 minutes at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin: “Paul, you started so powerfully, that it didn’t matter much what you said after that!” Well, I guess one can take that one of two ways, but that was also great feedback.
You see, whatever the nature of your presentation – if you start well, you can look forward to an enjoyable downhill ride. But if the beginning is faulty, prepare yourself for an uphill struggle. Such is the power of the opening gambit. Ask any chess player.