Most people follow the same pattern when planning a presentation. They start out a little slow. This information right at the beginning of the presentation is usually boring, but the presenter thinks it's necessary. Next, they share something interesting to appease their audience and try to pull them back in. They wait to share the really good stuff for the end, when most of the audience is half-asleep or in the bathroom.
Let's hit them with the boring stuff before we have a chance to lose them. Then, we'll draw them back in with something good. Finally, we'll wow them with the truly awesome stuff at the end.
Problem is, that strategy doesn't work. You lose the audience from the get go and you never really get them back. Your audience will never be as impressed as you hoped with that awesome stuff you held till the end — if they're even still around to hear it.
If you want to engage your audience early and keep them with you, reverse this strategy. Give your audience the best you've got right up front. Follow that with the next most interesting stuff. Now, you probably think I'm going to suggest that you leave the boring stuff for last, but I'm not. Instead, I want you to consider something totally radical...
...eliminate the boring stuff.
You can't do that? You have to keep the boring stuff?
Do you really?
Try this new perspective and you might just decide that you don't need that boring stuff after all. Your presentation will be better for it.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.