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The Facilitators Focus on Nailing the Opening Session

Nailing the Opening Session: The Importance According to Executive Coaches in Facilitating Major Events

The opening session of a major event sets the tone for the entire experience. Executive coaches play a vital role in advising their clients on the significance of nailing the opening session.

This article explores the reasons why executive coaches emphasize the importance of a successful opening session in facilitating major events. We will delve into how the opening session impacts participants’ engagement, establishes credibility, fosters a positive atmosphere, and maximizes the event’s overall success.

“There are three things to aim at in public speaking:

  • first, to get into your subject,
  • then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly,
  • to get your subject into the heart of your audience”

– Alexander Gregg


Setting the Tone and Capturing Attention

First Impressions Matter

The opening session is the first point of contact between event facilitators and participants. Executive coaches recognize that first impressions are crucial in shaping attendees’ perceptions of the event and its organizers. A well-planned and engaging opening session captures participants’ attention, signaling that the event is worth their time and investment.

Generating Excitement and Enthusiasm

A dynamic and compelling opening session generates excitement and enthusiasm among participants. Executive coaches guide their clients in designing an opening that sparks interest, fuels curiosity, and motivates attendees to actively participate in the subsequent activities.

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave.

The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”

– Dale Carnegie


Establishing Credibility and Trust

Demonstrating Professionalism

A successful opening session demonstrates the event facilitators’ professionalism and expertise. Executive coaches emphasize the importance of presenting a polished and well-prepared session that reflects the organizers’ competence and dedication.

Aligning with Event Objectives

Executive coaches work with their clients to ensure that the opening session aligns with the event’s objectives and purpose. When the opening is relevant and coherent with the overall event theme, it reinforces the event’s credibility and fosters trust among participants.

Building Rapport with Participants

Establishing rapport with participants is critical for a successful event. Executive coaches advise their clients on using the opening session to connect with the audience emotionally, fostering a sense of camaraderie and inclusivity.

“Say not always what you know, but always know what you say.”

– Claudius


Engaging Participants and Creating an Impactful Experience

Addressing Participants’ Needs and Expectations

Executive coaches stress the importance of tailoring the opening session to address participants’ needs and expectations. Understanding the audience and their motivations allows event facilitators to deliver a relevant and meaningful experience that resonates with attendees.

Incorporating Interactive Elements

Interactive elements in the opening session enhance engagement and make the event more memorable. Executive coaches encourage their clients to incorporate activities, Q&A sessions, or audience polls to create an interactive and participatory atmosphere.

Sharing Inspiring Stories and Messages

The power of storytelling is harnessed in a compelling opening session. Executive coaches guide their clients to share inspiring stories and messages that evoke emotions and leave a lasting impact on participants.

“The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about.”

– Author Unknown


Managing Nervousness and Enhancing Confidence

Overcoming Stage Fright

For many event facilitators, the opening session can be nerve-wracking. Executive coaches provide strategies to manage stage fright and nervousness, ensuring that their clients exude confidence and composure during the session.

Practicing Delivery and Timing

Effective delivery and timing are essential for a successful opening session. Executive coaches encourage their clients to rehearse the session thoroughly, fine-tuning their speaking skills and ensuring that the session runs smoothly.

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Maximizing the Event’s Overall Success

Building Momentum for the Event

A strong opening session sets the event’s momentum and encourages participants to remain engaged throughout the program. Executive coaches guide their clients in creating a seamless transition from the opening session to subsequent activities, maintaining participants’ interest and involvement.

Establishing Clear Expectations

The opening session serves as an opportunity to set clear expectations for the event. Executive coaches work with their clients to communicate the event’s structure, agenda, and desired outcomes, enhancing participants’ understanding of what to expect from the event.

Enhancing Learning and Retention

An impactful opening session enhances participants’ learning and information retention. Executive coaches advise their clients on incorporating effective learning strategies, such as visuals, storytelling, and audience engagement, to optimize the educational experience for attendees.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

– Winston Churchill



The opening session of a major event holds immense importance in the eyes of executive coaches. Nailing the opening sets the tone, captures attention, establishes credibility and trust, engages participants and creates an impactful experience.

By focusing on professionalism, aligning with event objectives, and building rapport with attendees, event facilitators can make a positive first impression. Emphasizing interactivity, storytelling, and addressing participants’ needs further enhances engagement and retention.

Executive coaches also provide strategies to manage nervousness and boost confidence. Ultimately, a successful opening session maximizes the event’s overall success by building momentum, setting clear expectations, and enhancing the learning experience for all participants.


Related Executive Coaching Articles

The importance of preparation in facilitating major events

Methods for measuring and evaluating facilitation impact

Strategies for Diversity and Inclusion in Facilitation


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Based on that exposure, our company has intentionally set out to support those practicing the art and science of leadership – or as often referred to, “Executive Talent.” These are people who acknowledge that they are not experts. They are open to opportunities for continued growth and carry the desire for learning what is needed to become a success in today’s complexity and uncertainty.

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  1. “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience” by Carmine Gallo
  2. “Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds” by Carmine Gallo
  3. “The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism” by Olivia Fox Cabane
  4. “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” by Chris Anderson
  5. “Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences” by Nancy Duarte
  6. “Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life” by Michael Port
  7. “How to Speak So People Really Listen: The Straight-Talking Guide on How to Communicate with Influence and Impact” by Paul McGee

Videos and Online Resources

  1. “How to Start a Speech” by Conor Neill – A TEDx Talk on effective techniques for starting a speech and capturing the audience’s attention.
  2. “The Power of a Great Opening” by Tony Robbins – A motivational video emphasizing the impact of a compelling opening in public speaking.
  3. “How to Create a Captivating Opening for Your Presentation” by Brian Tracy – A video providing tips on crafting an engaging opening for presentations and speeches.
  4. “Secrets of the World’s Best Speakers: How to Create a Magnetic Opening” by Brendon Burchard – A video exploring the strategies used by successful speakers to create a magnetic opening.
  5. “Mastering the Art of Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie Training – A comprehensive video series covering various aspects of public speaking, including opening techniques.

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