Second 1:  Smile
Ahhh, a smile relaxes you and your audience, and it gets everyone ready for something positive to come.

Second 2:  Breathe

Sounds obvious but it’s not, and those who forget to breathe make themselves more nervous.

Seconds 3 – 8:  Engage

There’s no doubt that you will spend most of your preparation time working on the meat of your talk or presentation, i.e. the 15+ minutes that follow the first 8 seconds. But I would encourage you to give just as much thought and care to what you will say right off the bat. It’s standard, expected, and therefore boring and mediocre, to stand up and thank people for having you or offer other polite niceties as an opening. Set yourself apart by standing up and telling people exactly what they will know or feel after your talk … e.g. “you will be inspired tonight” or “you are about to learn all about xyz today” or “we are going to have some fun for the next 30 minutes” or “what you’re about to hear will change how you do business.” Give some thought to your audience’s needs and expectations in relation to your topic, and let them know – as you’re just getting started – what you’re going to give them during your time together.

Audiences will decide inside those first 8 seconds whether you are worthy of their attention, so speakers beware!

Beth Levine