You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. To project a strong and confident presence during your opening statement be sure to start at level-3 energy (see a related blog on this topic).

In addition, we recommend that you do the following:

• Stand tall, don’t slouch.
• Speak loudly and clearly with expression.
• Modulate your tone.
• Vary your rate of delivery.
• Be animated.
• Move around the room as appropriate.
• Use defined gestures.
• Make eye contact.
• Ensure your facial expressions match what you are saying.

Here are somethings to specifically avoid.
• Avoid monotone.
• Avoid speaking too fast or too slowly.
• Avoid filler words (e.g., “ah,” “um”).
• Avoid speaking with your back turned (we call this “speaking to flip charts”).
• Avoid standing firmly in one place (“the planted tree”); or nervous pacing (“the expectant father”).
• When it comes to gestures, avoid the “military” position (hands held behind the back), the “fig leaf” position (hands held low in front), the “prayer” (hands held together at your chest).

To learn more about facilitation skills, consider our course, The Effective Facilitator. The four-day course provides a structured approach for leading teams and facilitating meetings and covers over 100 techniques for getting amazing results from groups.