Just imagine how disappointed you’d be after setting up a meeting or performance discussion, only to lose your listener(s) with an opening that didn't create momentum. Anticipation of a good meeting--followed by a weak opening-- is like inviting someone for a hot air balloon ride only to find the helium tank is empty.
1. Ask a Question
Opening with a question is a rhetorical device. It creates curiosity and starts the listener thinking. Thinking means active engagement with your topic, and that’s just what both of you want.
2. Share a Quote or Maybe an Anecdote
Anecdotes are brief stories that can make people laugh or quickly establish the main point at hand. A related quote from a professional authority or well-known person can magnetically hold attention in those opening seconds.
3. Involve the Mind’s Eye
A mental image in the listener's mind is one of the most powerful things you can create, so engaging the imagination is a powerful opening technique. Use words like “imagine,” “picture this,” “do you remember when,” etc.
4. Note a Shocking Statistic
I love starting off with a fascinating fact. Why? People enjoy fascinating data if it is unique, startling, shocking, or counter-intuitive. Be sure it is directly relevant to your point as well.
5. Use a Metaphor, Analogy, or Simile
These are some of the most powerful devices available when it comes to telling a story in a single sentence. It's a great way to capture attention and also sparks the mental imagery that allows people to tell a story to themselves.
Whether you are sitting down one-on-one or kicking off a meeting, one or more of these will create the kind of engagement that will make you "listenable" and draw others into the discussion.
Wouldn't it be great to become known as the person people want to be with, regardless of the topic?