Though simply, yet provocative and crucial to consider next time you write an email or deliver a presentation!

“The speaker had just been introduced. A slide behind him had his name and institution on it. A program in each member of the audience’s hands had the same information. And still, how did he begin?

“Good Morning, my name is Gary Anderson and I’m a managing director at Acme and I’m here today to talk about…” Yet again the chance to make a powerful first impression by a presenter was lost. The audience settled in for another mediocre presentation, and they were not wrong. All too often business leaders forget the classic adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In both written and oral communication it’s just too easy to begin with the mundane, the uninspired, and the ordinary.

As we’re designing presentations or crafting emails or letters, it’s acceptable, perhaps even easier, to start by writing the heart of our content. How will we shape it? What flow makes sense? What matters most to my audience? What aspects must be included and what elements are optional if time, or space, allows? But once the draft of your communication is complete, then step back and consider the total package you are delivering to your reader or audience and decide carefully how you wish to begin.

Each year we likely see hundreds of presentations at work or professional conferences. The speaker who commands our attention from their first breath is one we want to listen to. At TED 2009, Elizabeth Pisani, an AIDS researcher with unconventional methods of field research, did just that. She looked out at the audience and began “People do stupid things; that’s what spreads HIV.” She had us. She then went on to discuss four distinct groups of people (drug users, sex workers, gay men, and health policy nerds) and what each found to be rational. Her talk, from her very first breath, was brilliant, well-designed, and powerful. It began well and just got better.”

Read the full article at HBR here:

Effective Communication Begins with a First Impression
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