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Make a better introduction at your next class meeting

You hate to see it. Another lesson, another daydream.

Teachers are presenters. Keep this in mind. In classes, meetings, trainings, and beyond teachers present. Let's talk about classes.

They can go either way. Some teachers present so well that, when the bell rings, students wonder where the time goes. Other teachers have students waiting impatiently for forever's boredom to end.

Look around. You see it. Kids fakeworking on phones. Going to restrooms they know they don't have to use.

For teachers, presentation is an almost-daily occurrence and, since we do it so much, we sometimes take the skill for granted.

As familiarity breeds contempt, a teacher's familiarity with standing before his audience leads him to settle. A nondescript "Alright, class. Today we're going to talk about..." is how he starts each day. Cue cellphoners and hallway roamers.

Next class session, replace the nondescript approach with something better.

These three reminders will help you make better introductions anytime you step before the class.

Reminder #1: Get their attention

Grabbing your audience's attention isn't a random statement or act. Rather, it's a conscious move that takes advantage of your creativity and your knowledge about those in attendance.

Some teachers grab the audience's attention by being showy or outrageous. Making a spectacle of yourself is not the aim; don't do that.

Some ways to grab their attention:

  • share an anecdote that is related to the topic

  • introduce a related little-known fact for the group's analysis

  • state an unpopular opinion and present a strong argument to support it

The idea is to establish a sense of intrigue.

Reminder #2: Establish the point

Your lessons are likely very similar to other ones students have heard in years prior.

How do you get someone to really listen to yours?

Tell your students exactly what they want and need to hear in both your headline and introduction.

You can uncover these "next-level benefits" with a technique called Extreme Brainstorming.

Challenge yourself to get more clear about who you're talking to and the transformations they each hope to achieve.

Write down all the different ways you could state the most compelling benefits of your lesson, narrow down your top choices, and then select the strongest one.

For example, your lesson won't open with a general statement like:

How to Wake Up at 5AM

It'll have more details:

How to Wake Up at 5AM Every Day, Even When You're Not a Morning Person

Students relate to lessons that relate closely to their specific struggles.

Of course, your lesson must deliver.

Reminder #4: Include others

That's how this article starts.

You were asked to "Think back to the last time...," which is an invitation to explore the topic.

You can encourage students to:

  • Imagine

  • Remember

  • Consider

  • Forget about [a popular notion]

  • Set a timer to do an exercise or game

When your introduction only explains information, you don't show your colleagues in the audience that you have something to offer that they won't find anywhere else. Here's a straightforward way to engage while you explain.

Try combining this Action Type with Action Type #1 and Action Type #2 above to introduce that unique point of view you have or next-level benefits you want to immediately communicate.

Your audience should feel confident about listening to your presentation — which will increase the chances that they'll want to check out your presentations again in the future.

Make a great first impression to grow your audience

We all love something new.

Something we haven't seen before.

Something that makes us think, "Dang. I wish I wrote that."

That's why compelling introductions are directly related to growing your audience. That first impression is your opportunity to persuade. Show your audience that you're not like everyone else.

How much time do you spend on your introduction? Do you have any favorite techniques that help you stand out?

Share in the comments below.

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