There are several ways you can begin a speech or an address. This article introduces you to three of the ‘best’ ways to start your speech to grab the attention of your audience. There are several evidences to prove that the first few seconds of a speaker’s speech is crucial either to turning the listeners off or getting them eager to hear more. With this as a foundation, a speaker’s primary target should be making that first big impact. This is how to do that.
- Share a personal story
Very often when you get the chance to speak on a topic or on a special occasion, chances are that you have a personal connection or observation that is somewhat linked to what you are to talk about. It’s a great idea to share it. The caution is, ensure it is relevant to the topic. It is not advisable to use a fictitious story or a story that will easily turn off listeners especially on sensitive topics such as religion and culture.
- Ask a question
Yes, asking a question that provokes the thought of your listeners is one way to grab their attention as they seek to follow your presentation to know your stance on the issue. It is quite enticing because most people usually will have an opinion or an answer to that question and for those who don’t or are indifferent, they will like to weigh the arguments to take a decision. Asking that thought-provoking question can also stir up people to ‘flow’ with your speech and agree more with you.
The ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions are the most used. Note that your question must provoke thoughts, it shouldn’t have an obvious answer that will make your listeners wonder why such a question. You may have realized that its very common to see TED speakers start their talks using questions, and indeed the questions can really be mind-boggling and cause you to listen through and through. How many questions can you ask at the start of your speech? I will say at most 3.
- That Hard-to-believe Statement
When an audience gets into the state of Wow! Or Huh? Or Really? it is more likely they are focusing more attention on you.
Hard-to-believe facts and provocative statements of the speaker expressing his or her strong opinion or challenging a status-quo. Very often speakers fear losing their audience by making their strong opinions clear and loud. The truth is, they are there to listen to you so give them what you have but at the same time, allow them to think through it themselves. Your duty is not to get everyone present to at that moment switch from believing something to accepting the new ‘alternative’ you are presenting. If you are convicted about it, tell the audience and don’t look apologetic about it, because it is a fact you may be sharing with many others in the room. Let that profound thought hit the minds of your listeners and let the wow! chorus in them out.
Don’t continue the boring trend of “hello everyone, I am happy to be here”, “hi, thank you for welcoming me”, “Today I will be talking about” et cetera. Your audience may welcome you with them so try to avoid them at your next speaking engagement. Try any of the three options discussed, as your main line, before probably using the commonly used introductions.