Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Cliché alert. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Imagine you're at a conference, and the fifth speaker in the row is also the fifth person to begin their talk by saying, "Hello, my name is this and that, and in the next half hour, I will tell you a little bit more about this or that subject." Now, knowing that an audience's attention is at its highest at the beginning of a presentation, you want to keep that level of attention for as long as possible. So, here are three easy ways to get that first impression just right. Start out with a question. In line with your topic, of course. I was at a conference not so long ago about new technologies in internet banking. And the speaker came on stage, held up a tablet computer, and he said, "Who has one of these?" And that was the first thing that he said. Now, as an audience, you don't even have to respond vocally; just raising your hand is enough. It's very little effort. Chances of the audience going, "No, I'm not putting my hand up," are very few indeed. And only after that small interaction, the speaker introduced himself and moved on to his first topic. So, choose a simple and a clearly formulated question. You don't need to ask your audience for a miracle solution for climate change. Don't make them work too hard; keep it simple. The second option is a striking figure. When preparing your presentation, go through the data of your topic. Is there an unexpected number that might raise a few eyebrows or set people thinking a figure that stands out, for instance. Now, I do workshops around the country on how to get the most out of your speaking voice. And I usually open by saying that I recently read an article that claimed that CEOs of major companies with a lower-pitched voice earn up to 15% more than those with higher-pitched voices. And then I leave a pause. And somebody is bound to go, "Yeah, sure; I bet this only goes for men." Actually, no; apparently, it's men and women. And this brings me to my third option: tell a short story or an anecdote. Because, right after this striking figure of 15%, I continue with a story about Margaret Thatcher, the former UK prime minister. And she was known to take elocution lessons, 'specially to lower her voice. Because she was convinced that it would help her create a bigger impact in a political world which was, at that time, predominantly male. Now, don't do that, it's very bad for your voice, but that's not the point. It's only after I've opened with this anecdote, or fun fact, if you will, that I properly introduce myself and crack on with my first topic. Now, these three intros are very easy ones that guarantee you to keep the attention high for as long as possible. And once you've picked your option, start rehearsing, and say your first lines out loud a couple of times. This will train your so-called "motor memory" and make sure that your opening lines are coming out in one fluent motion. You don't want to err in those first moments or be struggling to find your words. And here's a couple of things to avoid. For instance, never apologize for anything. Don't say, "I'm sorry, I have a bit of a cold," or "I haven't had much time to prepare." Or, if you're doing a presentation in English and it's not your native language, don't go, "I'm sorry my English is not so good." I'm sure it's perfectly fine, and if it's not, then people are bound to find out very soon, won't they? Another bad idea, if you want to make a good first impression, is to start out with a joke or a witty remark. I mean, you can, but if your joke doesn't go down very well, you can pack your bags and leave because there is no dignified way to pick yourself up after your attempt to humor went horribly wrong. So, if nobody has ever called you funny or acknowledged your wit in any form, don't go there. So, remember, to sum it up, choose a good opening line⏤a question, a striking figure, or a little story. Just to make sure that the first words that people hear from you as you're doing your presentation are just a little more inspiring than "My name is such and such, and I'm here to talk about this and that." Now, here's a final tip: go online and watch a number of TED talks. You will never find a TED talk that starts out with "Hello, my name is...," and so on.