The time to deliver your speech has arrived after hours of preparation. You’re standing in front of the podium, with all your eyes on you, confident no one can take away. Then you’ll start …
“Hello, all of you. Thank you very much for having me. My name is ______ _______, and I am going to be speaking to you today about _______. To begin, _______ is important because…”
Suddenly people start to move in their seats, check their phones, read the program, talk to each other, and do anything but pay attention to you.
Your opening often decides how long your presentation will be “tuned in” by the audience. If you bore your audience right from the beginning, there is little chance that your message will be transmitted effectively.
To prevent this from happening, how do you effectively open a speech or presentation?
We provide 15 ways to start your speech:-
1. Thank you to the organizers and the audience
First of all, you can thank the audience for coming and thank the organization for inviting you to speak.
Refer to the person who introduced you to the audience in the organization or to one or more senior people.
This compliments them, makes your presence feel proud and happy, and connects you like an electrical plug in a socket to the audience.
2. Start with a positive declaration
You can start by telling members of the audience how much they want and how much they enjoy what you have to say.
You might say, for instance:
“You’re going to really enjoy this evening’s time we’re spending together. I’ll share some of the most important ideas I’ve ever discovered in this area with you.”
Remember, speaking is an art, so be an artist and take full control of your performance.
3. Compliments to the public
You can start by sincerely and with great respect complimenting the members of the audience.
Smile as if you’re really happy to see them as if they’re all your old friends you haven’t seen for a while.
You can tell them that being here is a great honor for you, that they are some of the most important people in this business or industry, and you look forward to sharing some key ideas with them.
Something you could say like:
“Today’s an honor to be with you. You are the elite, this industry’s top 10 percent of people. Only the best people in any field are going to take the time and make the sacrifice to come so far for such a conference.”
4. Start speaking by referring to current events
Use a current front-page event news story to shift to your topic and illustrate or prove your point. You can bring a copy of the newspaper in your introduction and hold it up as you refer to it.
Holding the paper and reciting or reading a key point, this visual image of you rivets the attention of the audience and causes people to lean forward to hear what you have to say.
5. Refer To a Historical Event
I’ve been studying military history for many years …
Especially the great generals ‘ lives and campaigns and the decisive battles that they won. Alexander the Great was one of my favorites.
One day, for a Fortune 500 company, I was asked to give a talk about leadership principles to a roomful of managers.
I decided that Alexander the Great’s campaign against Darius of Persia would be a great story to illustrate the leadership qualities of one of history’s great commanders.
With these words, I opened my speech:
There was once a young man named Alex who grew up in a poor country. But Alex was somewhat ambitious. He decided from an early age that he wanted to conquer the known world as a whole. But a small problem existed. Most of the known world was under the control of King Darius II, a huge multinational company called the Persian Empire. Alex was going to have to take away market share from the market leader, who was very determined to hold on to it, to fulfill his ambition.
This is the same situation that exists on the market today between you and your major competitors. You’ll have to use all of your leadership skills to win the future’s great marketing battles.
6. Refer to a well-known individual
You can begin by quoting a well-known person or publication who made a significant statement recently.
One of the topics I regularly touch on is the importance of continuous personal development
I’m going to say something like, “The key to success is knowledge and know-how in the twenty-first century. As Pat Riley, a basketball coach, said, If you don’t get better, you get worse.”
7. Refer to Conversation Recent
Start by telling a story with someone in attendance about a recent conversation.
For example, I might say, “I took Tom Robinson in the lobby a few minutes ago. He told me this was one of the best times in this industry to be working, and I agree.”
8. Make a shocking declaration
You can start your speech by making some sort of shocking statement.
You might say something like, for example:
“There will be more change, more competition, and more opportunities in this industry in the coming year than ever before, according to a recent study. And 72 percent of the people in this room will do something else within two years unless they quickly adapt these changes to the top.”
You can begin by quoting a recent report on research.
One example is:
“There were nearly 10,000,000 millionaires in America in 2013, most of them self-made, according to a story in a recent issue of Businessweek.”
10. Start speaking by giving them hope
Gustav Le Bon, a French philosopher, once wrote, “Humanity’s only religion is and has always been hope.”
You give people some kind of hope when you speak effectively.
Remember, in the absence of your comments, the ultimate purpose of speaking is to inspire people to do things they would not have done.
All you say should relate to what you want people to do and why they should take those actions.
11. Be Entertaining
After his introduction, Bill Gove used to walk on the stage if he had just finished talking to somebody on the side and broke off to give the group his talk.
The audience had the feeling that one continuous conversation was his whole talk.
Often Bill would go to the edge of the stage and then drop his voice in a conspiratorial manner, open his arms, and beckon the members of the audience to come closer.
“Come here, let me tell you something,” he would say, and then wave them forward as if he were about to tell the whole room a secret.
The wonderful thing was that everybody in the room would lean forward to hear the “secret” he was about to share. All of a sudden, people would realize what they were doing and in laughter break out. To get the audience into the palm of his hands was a wonderful device.
12. Ask for a question
By making a positive statement, you can open up and then ask a question that requires a handshake.
Try this kind of thing:
“It’s a great time in America to be alive and in business. How many people are self-employed here by the way?”
Raise your hand to show what people want to do. I used this line, and after several hands went up, I said to someone who raised his hand in the front, “How many people are really self-employed here?”
Somebody will invariably say, “We are all!”
I would then like to compliment and say the answer:
“That’s right! We are all self-employed, from the moment we take our first jobs to the day we retire ; we all work for ourselves, regardless of who signs our paychecks.”
13. Open with an issue
You can begin with a problem that needs to be solved. If it’s an issue that almost everyone has in common, you’ll get the full and undivided attention of the audience right away.
You might say, for example:
“Fully 63 percent of baby boomers move to retirement without putting aside enough money to take care of themselves as long as they live. We need to address this issue and take immediate action to ensure that every retired person can live comfortably for the rest of their natural life.”
14. Make a powerful statement, ask a question
You can begin with a strong statement and then ask a question. Then you follow with a reply and ask another question. This involves people right away and listens to your every word.
15. Say a story
With a story you can start your conversation. Some of the most powerful words that catch the audience’s full attention are, “Once upon a time …”
People love stories of all kinds from infancy and early childhood. You tell the audience that a story is coming when you start with the words, “Once upon a time …” People settle down immediately, become quiet, and lean forward around a campfire like children.
When I hold full-day seminars and after a break I want to bring people back to their seats, I’ll say loudly, “Once upon a time there was a man in this city right here …”
When I say these words, people hurry back to their seats and start listening to the rest of the story attentively.
The technique of the story is very efficient.