The way you begin a speech is always very critical. I have seen many speakers starting with the sentence ‘Today I am going to talk to you about….’. That probably is the second worst way to start a speech, the first one being ‘In fact I didn’t get time to prepare well..’. There are three objectives that a speaker should achieve through the introduction part of the speech.
Catch the attention of the audience
The audience could be talking or thinking about his household / official problem when you come to speak. You need to break their thoughts and draw attention to you.
Introduce your topic
The audience should understand what you will be talking about and how they will benefit from it. Once they feel it is beneficial or relevant to them, they will pay closer attention. A little suspense is good but excessive delay in topic introduction will result in loss of audience interest.
Connect with the audience
You need to establish rapport with the audience and create a situation in which the audience is interested in you and your speech. They should be able to trust you and should be able to relate to what you are talking about.
The opening part of your speech should be drafted keeping in mind the speech topic, type of audience, length of speech etc. 6 great ways to open a speech are given below:
1. A Thought Provoking Question
Whenever a question is asked, we have a natural tendency to find an answer to it. A good question will stimulate the brain and make the audience interested in the topic.
‘If you don’t know your date of birth, what do you think your age will be?’
2. An Amazing Fact or Statistic
There are several interesting facts and statistics which we never think about in everyday life. Pick up an amazing one related to your topic.
‘Half of the people killed by bombs are those trying to make or set the bombs.’
3. A Beautiful Quotation or Humorous Remark
It is very easy to find quotations since we have several sources like books, magazines, websites etc. But take care to select a quotation or remark which is not very common.
‘Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile way and you have their shoes.’
4. A Controversial Statement
A controversial statement will not only catch the attention of the audience, it will keep them guessing about what your conclusion on the topic will be. It is important not to offend the feelings of the audience when making controversial statements.
‘If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever’
5. A Compelling Anecdote
The anecdote could be the speaker’s own experience or taken from any other source. But it should be made certain that the anecdote is interesting and not known to majority of the audience. Whenever experiences of other persons are used, try to personalize the story.
6. A Visual Aid
A visual aid related to your speech topic will instantly catch audience attention and will arouse curiosity.
A speaker comes with crutches and speaks about the disabled.
These are only some of the ways you can use to open a speech. Out of the box thinking always helps and innovative ways could be used. A good opening makes people listen to you and a good closing will make them remember your speech.