You have only one chance to make an excellent first impression. The same adage applies to the world of public speaking. Just within the first minute, the audience form their first impression on the speaker, and decide, subconsciously, whether they should still give the speaker their valuable attention.
Top notch speaker knows this very well. They spent time strategizing how they can start their speech on the right note for optimal effect. They also avoid the usual pleasantries that most speakers will typically use: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is John thank you for coming to my talk.”
Here are 3 attention-grabbing techniques that top speakers use to start their speech with a bang:
Technique 1: Start with a story
Begin your speech by starting with a personal story. Stories are powerful tools for communication. Since the advent of mankind, stories has been relied upon to convey vital lessons from the environment that man can learn from.
Similarly, by using stories in your speeches, especially within the introduction of your speech, you can instantly distinguish yourself from other speakers who start off their speeches with regular pleasantries.
Tell a short personal story that ends with a personal lesson and message. Use this personal lesson and message to justify why your speech is important. Use the story to set the context of your speech, leading on to what you want to convey with the body of your speech.
For example, if you are giving a speech that advocates animal welfare, start by telling a story about how you came to recognise the importance that animals welfare can bring to your community, or tell stories about how you were appalled by instances of animal abuse and neglect, incidents that compelled you to deliver your speech on animal welfare.
In other words, facts tell, stories sell!
Technique 2: Ask a question
Ask a question during the introduction of your speech to get the audience to respond to you. This fosters instant interaction between you as the speaker, and your audience.
For example, if you are giving a talk to students on learning strategies they can use to ace their exams, you can ask the following question in your introduction, “How many of you feel that no matter how hard you study for your exams, you will never get the grades you want. Raise your hands if this is you.”
Such questions also help the audience to recognise the ‘pain’, ‘displeasure’ or ‘challenge’ they are currently facing. You can then follow-up by illustrating how your speech can help your audience palliate their ‘pain’ and overcome their ‘challenges’, thereby establishing instant credibility in the eyes of your audience.
Technique 3: Mention a startling fact
Start your speech with a startling fact that captivates the audience attention right from the get-go. For example, if you are delivering a speech on cancer prevention, you can mention a startling fact along the following lines, “Ladies and gentlemen, one in three of you in this room will end up dying of cancer! Could it be the person sitting to your left? Could it also be the person sitting to your right? Or could it be you?!”
The first sentence is the startling fact, while the following questions allow you to playfully instil fear! This introduction is sure to make the audience sit up and listen!
You can then continue your speech by expanding on the startling fact, “According to the Health Department of our country, cancer affects 33% of the population. That means that statistically, cancer will affect one in every three persons in this room… “
In conclusion, these 3 powerful attention grabbing techniques will allow you to start your speech with a bang, and are sure to make your audience sit up and pay attention to what you have to say. Go try them and have fun!