Conference Presentation Introductions and Openings
In this chapter, we will discuss how to give effective openings in a CP. It is in the opening where the speaker can establish rapport with an audience, develop an interpersonal dimension, create a ‘voice’ for him or herself, ground the tenor, and provide the audience with the rhetorical structure of the CP. Therefore, effective openings are essential in determining effective CP performance. But which discursive, rhetorical, and linguistic choices are most frequent? And which would be most effective according to the presentation type and content? The generic, linguistic, and rhetorical features of introductions and opening CP moves might initially seem peripheral when the presenter naturally wishes to focus upon the research content, but the choice of opening gambit must be given thorough consideration by those presuming to teach CP skills to novice researchers and academics, as well as novice researchers who hope to successfully present at international academic conferences, as the explicit use of rhetorical moves and discourse markers in introductory sections will serve to both guide and engage the audience as well as to ‘position’ the speaker. Based on my observations, the most salient opening gambits included: opening directly into the research content, using rhetorical questions, shared research/academic knowledge, providing background information, and avoiding unnecessary self-introduction data, minimizing anecdotes, and limiting personal appeals to the audience. We will also look briefly at body language and posture concerns, followed by a short overview of how openings might best be managed in agnate conference speech events.
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