The Hero’s Journey begins when “a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder.” Your presentation may not offer “supernatural wonder,” but you are asking the audience to leave their comfort zone and venture to a new place that is closer to where you think they should be.
The beginning of your presentation is represented by the first flat line of the presentation form. This is where you describe the audience’s ordinary world and set the baseline of what is. You can use historical information about what has been, or the current state of what is, which often includes the problem you’re currently facing.
You should deliver a concise formulation of what everyone agrees is true. Accurately capturing the current reality and sentiments of the audience’s world demonstrates that you have experience and insights on their situation, and that you understand their perspective, context, and values.
Done effectively, this description of where your audience currently is will create a common bond between you and them, and will open them up to hear your unique perspective more readily. Audiences are grateful when their contribution, intelligence, and experience are acknowledged.
Additionally, describing their existing world gives you the opportunity to create a dramatic dichotomy between what is and what could be. Proposing what could be should throw the audience’s current reality out of balance. Without first setting up what is, the dramatic effect of your new idea will be lost.
The beginning doesn’t have to be long. It might be as simple as a short statement or phrase that sets the baseline of what is. While it can be longer, it should not take up more than ten percent of your total time. The audience will be anxious to know why they came and what you are proposing. So, although the beginning is important, it shouldn’t be long-winded.