The most difficult moments of a speech are those seemingly endless seconds of stage time while you get to your spot, find your notes or your clicker, look at the audience, wait for the applause to die down, and gather your wits to begin. You’re hoping it all goes well, wondering if the technology will work, fearing that it won’t, and trying to figure out why you agreed to speak to this motley crowd in front of you in the first place.
And then you have to begin your speech. When you open your mouth, what comes out? Following are eight ways to begin a speech that go beyond my usual exhortations to start with a story, a startling stat, or a question.
1. Begin with the way things used to be. This strategy is useful to set up a talk about change or a new proposal for your team, your organization, or your profession. “It used to be that we could count on our customers to. . . .” “Until only recently, everyone thought that renters would always. . . . “Remember how things used to quiet down in the summer?” The idea is to get your audience nodding in recognition, or smiling at the quaintness of yesterday, or waxing nostalgic about last Tuesday. Then, they’ll listen in the right frame for the new insight or proposal you’re going to hit them with.
2. Start with a strong emotion. Whether positive or negative, strong emotions catch the attention and set up the discussion in an interesting way. “The worst thing about our profession is. . . .” “What I love about penguins is the way that they. . . .” “I hate, positively hate, serif typefaces. . . .” The point here is that you’ll get a reaction, either positive or negative, and focus the audience on the point you want them to think about. We react to strong emotions, like train wrecks, and we can’t take our (metaphorical) eyes off them.
3. Thank the audience for something they’ve done . You can never go wrong praising the audience, whether they fully deserve it or not. It’s flattery, sure, but it works, and disarms the audience, setting them up to listen more favorably to your next point. “Let’s start by giving yourselves a round of applause. No team could have managed these last difficult months better than this one. You’ve been heroes. . . .” The applause then allows you to make the further ask: “That’s why I’m confident that you’ll be able to. . . .”
4. Cut away the extraneous and get to the essence . This move takes confidence, but with the right understanding of your audience, it can be highly effective. “The one thing that matters this election year is the economy. . . .” “Today I want to talk about fairness. . . .” “When it comes to the environment, there’s only one number you need to know. . . .” This device is most useful when you’re dealing with a highly complex subject, or a debate with many sides and a lot of history. It’s a way of clearing away the undergrowth and revealing the essential issue underneath all the excess.
5. Make a big demand. Asking the audience something big, or excessive, or unreasonable is counterintuitive. To make this kind of ask requires a deep understanding of your audience, and a strong sense of your own position. But people love to commit to audacious goals, so don’t be afraid of invoking something that you truly believe to be important. “We choose to go to the moon. . . .” “Let’s make history tonight. . . .” “Why not make the news for once instead of reacting to it? Let’s. . . . “
6. Break down what you’re talking about into simple steps . One of the most appealing tropes in public speaking is to make the complicated simple. “There are only three ways that you can design a book cover. . . .” “Financial security is really very simple. You can accomplish it in three steps. First. . . .” Just make sure you know what you’re talking about. You don’t want the audience immediately thinking of everything you’ve left out. This kind of simplicity demands real expertise to be effective.
7. Map out the future. The enduring appeal of fortune tellers has something to do with the certainty, I suppose, they seem to give one over the uncertain future. You can partake of the allure of the crystal ball set by giving your audience a schema for handling the future. “I see this playing out in one of three ways. . . .” “Watch for one of two things to happen. When you see either one, you’ll know that. . . .” It doesn’t really matter if you predict the future accurately or not; what you’re doing is giving your audience a way of thinking about the future that feels manageable.
8. Ask the audience to imagine something completely different . This approach is effective with professional organizations, or teams that have been doing things a certain way for a long time, or indeed anyone who has struggled with a status quo that seems set forever. “What if higher education were free to all?” “I’d like to begin by asking you to imagine a world with no hunger. . . .” “We’ve always assumed that Moore’s Law had a finite end. What if we could suddenly increase computing power by a factor of a thousand?”
Use these various framing devices to begin your speech with some extra sparkle – or simply to prompt your thinking about how to set up your talk for success.
If you want to convince your audience to take action, you better know how to start a persuasive speech, or else you will loose right at the start. The first 10 to 20 seconds of your presentation is the time when you have the most attention. Use this time wisely with awesome presentation openers.
Time to Overthink your Presentation Openers
If you don’t capture your audience’s attention right away you’ve probably lost it forever. Chances are that after the first 60 seconds (at the latest) people’s thoughts will drift off to thoughts like: “What am I gonna have for lunch today?”, “Has my daughter done her homework?”, “Where did I put my phone?”
You get the point: you need to hook up your audience from the moment you enter the stage or stand up to give a short talk. Time to think about a presentation opener that will blow them away.
Start before you say the first word
Don’t think of your presentation opener only as the actual words you’re gonna say. Your opener starts before you even open your mouth: it’s the way you enter the stage, the way you smile at the audience, the way you’re dressed, your voice and body language. So prepare yourself, stand tall, smile, be enthusiastic!
Don’t start by introducing yourself
In case you’re asking yourself whether you should introduce yourself first: the answer is no. At least not in the traditional way. Chances are your audience already knows who you are; either they are working with you, they read your name on the speakers list or heard you being introduced by a moderator. Remember that your presentation should always be about the audience – not about you. Don’t waste the critical first seconds introducing yourself.
Hi, my name is Bob, I have 22 years working experience in the field of Presentation Coachings and am currently writing a book on Powerpoint and today I will talk about the history of stuttering. I have worked with many people in this field and I have learnt that (…) blablablabla
Wanna know a guaranteed way of boring your audience to death the moment you open your mouth? This is it. Have you ever heard Steve Jobs open his presentation with “Hi my name is Steve”? Chances are you haven’t. Not only because the world knew who he is anyways – also, because it’s just a bad opener. Why? People wanna know what’s in for them. They are far less interested in you as you might think.
You are not as interesting as you think
Your presentation should be about your audience and what they can take away from it. So if you have to introduce yourself: do it in the context of your presentation and do it only after you’ve hooked the audience up.
How to start a persuasive speech or presentation? Hook them up!
So coming to the point: You need to capture your audience’s attention right away. How can you do this? Here are our favorite tactics:
Surprise/ Shock: Shocking or surprising your audience with statistics or facts is a great way of getting their attention. As said before: give them the most interesting piece of information right away. You can still explain it later.
$3 Mio (Pause) This is the value of sales we have forgone last year” is a much better opener than “Today we’re going to discuss last year’s sales figures”. “The world’s richest 1 percent is now wealthier than the rest of humanity combined” will shock people rather than “Today we’re gonna talk about income inequality.
Story: We all love stories and engaging people with a surprising or funny anecdote is one of the best ways to get your point across. Take Steve Job’s famous commencement speech at Stanford as an example:
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. (…)
It’s surprising, confusing and it makes people curious. He’s taking his audience on a journey.
Humor: Make the audience laugh and they’ll love you. Humor is one of the best presentation openers ever (if used correctly). There are few things that make us connect to another person as easily as by laughing together. But be careful: make sure your joke fits the context.
Engage your audience right away by asking them questions. Look at the first paragraph of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk:
How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent,the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him?
It’s a 20 second introduction just consisting of questions and one of the presentation openers that grab your attention right away.
Video/ Graphics: If it’s a product presentation why don’t you simply show them the product? This is what they came for. Or show them a short video. This is a great way if you’re battling stage fright. It hooks up the audience for you while you get the chance to concentrate on your next steps.
There are countless ways of opening your presentation. Choose a presentation opener that makes sense for your topic and practice it a few times. Try it next time you’re addressing your audience and you’ll see the results.
When figuring out how to write a speech, the essay form can offer a good foundation for the process. Just like essays, all speeches have three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
However, unlike essays, speeches must be written to be heard as opposed to being read. You need to write a speech in a way that keeps the attention of an audience and helps paint a mental image at the same time. This means that your speech should contain some color, drama, or humor. It should have “flair.” Make your speech memorable by using attention-grabbing anecdotes and examples.
Determine the Type of Speech You’re Writing
Since there are different types of speeches, your attention-grabbing techniques should fit the speech type.
Informative and instructional speeches inform your audience about a topic, event, or area of knowledge. This can be a how-to on podcasting for teens or a historical report on the Underground Railroad. It also can relate to health and beauty, such as “How to Shape Perfect Eyebrows,” or hobby-related, such as “Make a Great Bag Out of Old Clothing.”
Persuasive speeches attempt to convince or persuade the audience to join one side of an argument. You might write a speech about a life choice, such as, “Abstinence Can Save Your Life,” or getting involved in the community, such as “The Benefits of Volunteering.”
Entertaining speeches entertain your audience, and topics may not practical. Your speech topic could be something like, “Life Is Like a Dirty Dorm,” or “Can Potato Peels Predict the Future?”
Special occasion speeches entertain or inform your audience, like graduation speeches and toasts at celebrations.
Explore the different types of speeches and decide what speech type fits your assignment.
Craft a Creative Speech Introduction
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Thoughtco.com / Grace Fleming
The introduction of the informative speech should contain an attention-grabber, followed by a statement about your topic. It should end with a strong transition into your body section.
As an example, consider a template for an informative speech called “African-American Heroines.” The length of your speech will depend on the amount of time you have been allotted to speak.
The red section of the speech in the graphic provides the attention-grabber. It makes audience members think about what life would be like without civil rights. The last sentence states directly the purpose of the speech and leads into the speech body, which provides more details.
Determine the Flow of the Body of the Speech
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Thoughtco.com / Grace Fleming
The body of your speech can be organized in a number of ways, depending on your topic. Suggested organization patterns include:
- Chronological: Provides the order of events in time;
- Spatial: Gives an overview of physical arrangement or design;
- Topical: Presents information one subject at a time;
- Causal: Shows cause-and-effect pattern.
The speech pattern illustrated in the image in this slide is topical. The body is divided into sections that address different people (different topics). Speeches typically include three sections (topics) in the body. This speech would continue with a third section about Susie King Taylor.
Writing a Memorable Speech Conclusion
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Thoughtco.com / Grace Fleming
The conclusion of your speech should restate the main points you covered in your speech and end with a memorable statement. In the sample in this graphic, the red section restates the overall message you wanted to convey: that the three women you’ve mentioned had strength and courage, despite the odds they faced.
The quote is an attention-grabber since it is written in colorful language. The blue section ties the entire speech together with a small twist.
Address These Key Objectives
Whatever type of speech you decide to write, find ways to make your words memorable. Those elements include:
- Clever quotes
- Amusing stories with a purpose
- Meaningful transitions
- A good ending
The structure of how to write your speech is just the start. You’ll also need to finesse the speech a bit. Start by paying attention to your audience and their interests. Write the words you’ll speak with passion and enthusiasm, but you also want your listeners to share that enthusiasm. When writing your attention-grabbing statements, make sure you are writing what will get their attention, not just yours.
Study Famous Speeches
Gain inspiration from others’ speeches. Read famous speeches and look at the way they are constructed. Find things that stand out and figure out what makes it interesting. Oftentimes, speechwriters use rhetorical devices to make certain points easy to remember and to emphasize them.
Get to the Point Quickly
Remember to begin and end your speech with something that will gain and hold the attention of your audience. If you spend too much time getting into your speech, people will zone out or start checking their phones. If you get them interested immediately, they will be more likely to stick with you until the end.
Keep It Conversational
How you deliver the speech is also important. When you give the speech, think about the tone you should use, and be sure to write the speech in the same flow that you’d use in conversations. A great way to check this flow is to practice reading it out loud. If you stumble while reading or it feels monotone, look for ways to jazz up the words and improve the flow.
After hours of preparation, the moment to deliver your speech has arrived. You’re standing before the podium, all eyes on you, with confidence that no one could take away. Then you begin…
“Hello, everyone. Thank you for having me. My name is ______ _______, and I am going to be speaking to you today about _______. To begin, _______ is important because…”
Suddenly people begin shifting in their seats, checking their phones, reading the program, talking to one another and doing anything but paying attention to you.
Your opening often determines how long the audience will “tune in” to your presentation. If you bore your audience right from the start, there is little chance that your message will effectively get across.
How do you effectively open a speech or presentation to prevent this from happening? Here are seven effective methods to open a speech or presentation:
Opening with a relevant quote can help set the tone for the rest of your speech. For example, one that I often use to open a presentation dealing with public speaking:
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” – Mark Twain
- “What If” Scenario
Immediately drawing your audience into your speech works wonders. Asking a “what if” question invites the audience to follow your thought process.
“What if we were all blunt? How different would our everyday lives be? What would happen if we said what was on our minds, all day every day?”
- “Imagine” Scenario
A similar method, but more relevant for sensational examples. It puts your audience members directly into the presentation by allowing each member to visualize an extraordinary scenario.
“Imagine jumping out of a skydiving plane and discovering your parachute doesn’t work. What memories would flash before you? Now imagine the parachute opened. How differently would you act when you landed?”
Ask a rhetorical or literal question. When someone is posed with a question, whether an answer is called for or not, that person intuitively answers.
“Who wouldn’t want to live on an exotic island?”
A pause, whether two seconds or 10 seconds, allows your audience to sit and quiet down. Most audiences expect a speaker to begin immediately. An extra pause brings all the attention right where you should want it – on you.
Use a surprising, powerful, personalized statistic that will resonate with the audience to get your message across right away. It has the potential to trigger the audiences’ emotional appeal.
“Look to your left. Now look to your right. One of your seatmates will ___________.”
“In this room, over 90 percent of us are going to _________.”
- Powerful Statement/Phrase
A statement or phrase can catch the audience’s attention by keeping them guessing as to what you’re about to say next. Implementing the silence technique afterwards also adds to the effect.
“We can not win. We can’t win…”
“… That’s what every newspaper in the country is saying.”
I am a student in a dual international business and modern languages program and an aspiring ESL teacher.
Review the most important parts of a speech analysis, and read a sample essay.
When your professors ask you to write a speech analysis, most of them want references for the judgments, reasons, and arguments on which your analysis is based. These usually come from the course’s textbook. Below, I have referenced the Beebe’s Introduction to Public Speaking textbook on how to write an effective speech analysis:
- As in all papers, the analysis must include an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Start your introduction paragraph with an attention-getter or hook.
- Make sure your introduction includes a thesis sentence or purpose and previews the main points covered in the body.
- State the type of speech being analyzed and where it took place.
- Be specific.
- Make informed judgments and critiques of the speech.
- Make smooth transitions from paragraph to paragraph.
- Perform a grammar and spelling check.
Use these tips and the sample essay below as an example only. I have submitted this essay on a speech by Elie Wiesel for a writing assignment, and it could be detected on turnitin.com or another plagiarism tracker.
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in 2010.
Speech Analysis Essay (Example)
To listen to the speech analyzed in this essay and read the official transcript, visit Elie Wiesel Buchenwald’s Speech at American Rhetoric. Citations in this essay follow MLA format.
The following paragraph is the introduction to the analysis. It starts with a hook (“a passionate speech reminding the world of a horrific incident in history”), and it states where the speech took place. The introduction includes a thesis sentence (shown here in bold). It previews the main points covered in the body:
In the year 2009, at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, former prisoner Elie Wiesel delivered a passionate speech reminding the world of a horrific incident in history. His purpose was to commemorate the lives lost at the Buchenwald camp during the torture and extermination of its prisoners over half a century ago. My analysis will focus on how Wiesel used the strategies of storytelling, intonation, articulation, pause, quotation, and redundancy to engage and maintain his audience’s interest, as well as evoke their sympathy. Utilizing the three major divisions of a speech, his introduction captured the audience’s attention; the body presented his position; and his conclusion summarized the theme he wanted to portray (Beebe 13).
The next sections form the body of the analysis. They include specific details from the speech throughout, and they make informed judgments and critiques of the speech. Transitional sentences such as “As the speech moved . . . ” ensure a smooth flow between the paragraphs:
Wiesel opened his speech with a humble and clear tone—loud enough to be audibly heard, yet soft enough to portray the deep pain he still felt as he told the story of how his father called his name just before dying in the bunk bed above him. He explained that he was too afraid to go to his father’s deathbed for fear the German guards would see him. His opening story of his father’s death was a powerful attention-grabber (Beebe 189, 14). He also paused to add effect and used short, simple sentences in his introduction and throughout the speech to allow his audience to visualize his experience without any abstractions (Beebe 134,137).
Without overloading the audience with long descriptive details of his horrific experience, he enabled them to feel his pain and perceive his honesty. He does not shy away from remorseful words of recollection, either (Beebe 19, 79). Using these tactics combined with direct eye contact, Wiesel stood erect before the audience with his hands held loosely together in a humble display of character and integrity (Beebe 142-143).
To ensure a warm reception, Wiesel assessed his audience and appropriately referenced the current German Chancellor’s civic contribution and President Obama’s earlier speech on humanity (Beebe 43). He challenged the world’s claim of having learned from the historical atrocities of the past by referencing victims in Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia, selecting the examples that best suited his theme (Beebe 97, 118). Wiesel spoke with an intonation of measurable staccato, in addition to pausing to emphasize his dissatisfaction with what people have purportedly learned. In perfect pitch, he asked the crowd, “Will the world ever learn?” (Beebe 190).
As the speech moved from the introduction, through the body, and onto the conclusion with carefully crafted verbal transitions, the speaker used an appropriate quotation to drive home the seriousness of his feelings (Beebe 111, 121). He closed his speech with a quote from the philosopher Albert Camus, author of The Plague.
“After all,” Wiesel said, quoting Camus, “after the tragedy, never the rest . there is more in the human being to celebrate than to denigrate.”
The final section is the conclusion. It reviews the thesis and summarizes the analysis:
Elie Wiesel’s speech captures me and everyone else exposed to it from the beginning. Whether it be the heart-wrenching story of how he and others suffered at the hands of sadistic national socialists, or his repetitive claim and proof that the world hasn’t learned from their mistakes (Beebe 190), the speech is sure to affect a listener emotionally. Although he paced his speech so that every word could be heard and understood, at times, I found the pace to be a little too slow for my taste. However, I understand that the subject matter is very grave, and he didn’t want to risk under-emphasizing his misery and disappointment with the atrocities of the past.
Warning! This essay may have been submitted to a plagiarism detector. Do not copy it. Using this article is absolutely permissible if you cite this page’s URL.
© 2010 Wendy Powell
Ur mom on April 04, 2019:
Hey honey it’s time for dinner
Someone on April 04, 2019:
I’m bored and my iPad is at 32 percent
Ribbit on April 04, 2019:
Sweet home Alabama
Brenda on March 01, 2018:
Hi! I would like to know the references to this article.
– how to prepare a sincere commemorative speech
By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-30-2020 | First published: 07-01-2009
A tribute speech belongs in a special category of speeches called commemorative. Its principal purpose is to inspire and celebrate; uniting listeners in sincere, heartfelt gratitude and admiration for its subject.
Have you been asked to prepare one and need to know more?
On this page you’ll find what occasions are most likely to call for a tribute speech, their characteristics, how to begin the process of writing one, how to choose a topic and a section about eulogies or funeral speeches, (a special type of tribute speech), with links to examples.
What occasions call for a tribute speech?
A tribute speech may be delivered at any of the following celebrations:
These may be family events for example; a 50th wedding anniversary or a milestone birthday, or they could be public ones, for example; celebrations marking historic events like Remembrance Day or, the passing of a famous person.
At a family reunion this form of speech may be given to honor its senior members.
Similarly it will be an important part of the reunions of people brought together by work, sport, interests or vocation.
Memorial services or funerals
The eulogy you hear at a memorial service or funeral is a special type of tribute speech celebrating the life of the person who has passed away.
A tribute speech at an award presentation will honor the achievements of the award recipients. For example film, music or sports awards.
Although thought of as ‘wedding speeches’, the best man, father-of-the-bride speeches and their variations, are all forms of tribute speeches.
The tribute speech heard at a retirement celebration honors the retiree by acknowledging their service and contribution.
The characteristics of the speech
Whether the focus is a person, or an event involving a group of people, its characteristics are:
- admiration and respect
- a focus on positive qualities: perseverance, dedication, humility, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, sacrifice, service, kindness, humor .
- highlighting accomplishments and the difficulties overcome to achieve them
- a reflection on the positive impact and contribution of the focal group or person on the lives of others
- grateful acknowledgment of what we can learn from their example to take into the future
How to begin writing the speech
The first step in your process is finding out as much as you can about the occasion itself and then deciding on a topic, (if it hasn’t already been decided for you).
You’ll want to know:
- who the audience is
- whether you are the only speaker, or one in a series of speakers
- how long you expected to speak for
- whether the event is formal or informal
- if there are any special requirements the organizers may have that need to be included in your speech
How to choose a topic
Generally the occasion chooses it for you!
If you’re asked to speak at the celebration marking your Mother’s 70th birthday or a similar event, then you know what the central topic is.
What you’ll need to decide is how to handle it or what angle to take.
Get some help to find the right topic
If it’s not clear what you should talk about, you’ll find this page on how to select an inspiring tribute or commemorative speech topic helpful.
It walks you step by step through the process of finding a topic to suit your audience’s needs and has a great selection of carefully picked links to help you research topic possibilities.
Get some help with planning and writing
There’s a tribute speech template here that will be useful to help you plan the sections of your speech. Use it as a guide.
(On the same page is a speech I wrote to honor my Mother. It follows the template.)
Or if you’d like more than an outline to help you, you’ll find the entire process of writing a speech mapped out step by step here: how to write a speech .
Are you here because you need to prepare a eulogy?
These links below will guide you through the process:
- How to write a eulogy
Step by step guidance for preparing, writing and delivering a eulogy
- And if you’d like to include a special verse or quotation browse these pages of funeral poems and inspirational quotations.
Would you like to read a sample eulogy before you begin?
Reading others can be really useful in helping you decide what you want to achieve with your own speech.
Well known tribute speeches
Here are three famous speeches, each illustrating the characteristics of a fine commemorative speech.
- Ronald Reagan’s tribute for the crew of the Challenger Space ShuttleВ that exploded during its launch.
- Sen. Edward Kennedy’s eulogy for his slain brother: Robert F. Kennedy.
- Oprah Winfrey’s eulogy for Rosa Parks.
Not-so well known tribute speeches
I am very fortunate to have a collection of not-so famous tribute speeches on write-out-loud.com.
These are very special because they’re by people probably similar to yourself who have been asked to write a speech about someone they’ve loved dearly.
There are eulogies for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, colleagues, and friends.
All of them have been sent in to provide examples to help people who are trying to write. Seeing how others have handled the task gives them the courage and confidence to begin.
These eulogy pages get thousands of visitors every week.
Do you need help with preparing to deliver your speech?
You’ll find everything you need to help you give your speech confidently by visiting the site map .
So you want to start a speech but do not know what to do. Welcome to the club. This is the challenge faced by all speakers. Here is some advice on where to start.
Your introduction needs to accomplish three things.
When people ask how to start your speech, in public speaking vernacular, they are asking how to create an introduction.
How to start a speech is one of the speaker skills that every public speaker should master in order to attain speechmastery.
How to Start a Speech: The Three Keys
- Grab the Audience Attention
Each of these three need to be incorporated in the introduction. Lets consider them individually.
How to Start a Speech: Arouse Audience Attention
The speech introduction needs to arouse and capture the interest of the audience in the subject.
You can capture their attention by showing the audience whatвЂ™s in it for them. Why is the subject of value to your audience? Why should they listen?
Sometimes the benefit is obvious by subject or title. Yet it is still necessary to arouse interest. With the minds of those in your audience occupied by so many things, why should they give their valuable mind time to you the speaker?
The solution was well stated by Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want, and show them how to get it.”
Did you notice that success lies in what others want? Success in persuasion lies in helping them with their вЂjob to be done.вЂ™ Think of the human problems, desires, wants and needsвЂ”these are the jobs to be done by your audience. Let your audience know that you will be helping them with their problems.
How to Start a Speech: Time to Capture Their Attention
On the average, the short term memory is about 20 seconds. That means you have 20 seconds to capture their attention in your speech introduction.
The reality: If you have a long rambling and run on sentence for an introduction, you will lose them. Short, sweet, and mind capturing words need to be used. You only have 20 seconds. You get their attention in the first 20 seconds, you have 20 seconds more to keep it going.
So, get them involved on their level of thinking. Look at your speech introduction statements and break each section down to 15 – 20 second sentences. Does each sentence work toward capturing attention? Does it draw the audience into the next thought? Then collectively the introduction needs to capture the attention to listen to the talk.
One word of caution here. Be careful that what you say is not mental spam. First review the Power Words Also note the exceptions you may want to avoid.
For instance, avoid making big benefit claims. Over a generation ago, when things were new and improved, it made sense to promote things that way. We have heard the words so often we turn on our spam filters and donвЂ™t listen.
If this was sent as an e-mail and had the word free, new or improved to many times it would get kicked out by your computer spam filter. Should our minds be any different?
How to Start a Speech: Identify the Theme
Your introduction should indicate the topic or theme of your speech. The theme should be woven into the speech from beginning to end. Including it in the introduction helps the audience mind to focus on the theme.
A great way to introduce a speech is to use a story that is wove through the speech. Stories create a greater challenge to introduce the topic of your speech. It is necessary none the less.
Adult learners have a need when it comes to learning. They need to know WIIFM or What Is In It For Them. The adult audience needs to know how the information will benefit them.
A second challenge with adult learners is maintaining their interest. When you give a talk you will notice some sit as far to the back as possible. Although this can be for numerous reasons, some will not want to be there. To be of benefit to them will require specific information that will answer questions they have and issues they face.
Beyond What’s In it for Them
Connect to the audience and surround the benefit with the proof. Make the claim bigger than the proof and always have them joined at the hips. This means for many speech introductions, the grand claims may need to wait till the body of the speech. Otherwise the spam filters will shut you out.
Providing the benefit / proof duo in the body rather than the speech introduction will give your speech added power. Used in the body where you have their attention it will cause them to have better retention. Suggest that the proof will be coming in the body.
Writing a speech isn’t all that different than writing for other mediums. You need to know your audience, the required length, and the purpose or topic. This is true whether your speech is for a business conference, a wedding, a school project, or any other scenario.
But there’s something about speech writing that’s especially nerve-wracking.
If you write and deliver a speech that doesn’t go over well, you’ll get feedback in real time. The people sitting in front of you could lose interest, start talking, doze off, or even wander out of the room. (Don’t worry, only audiences in movies throw tomatoes).
Of course, a poor speech is not the end of the world. You can give plenty of crummy speeches and live to tell the tale.
But we also know that a great speech is capable of changing the world. Or at least sparking an audience’s imagination, catapulting your business into success, earning an A+ on your assignment, or ensuring that the bride and groom are still friends with you after the wedding.
So if you’re feeling stressed over your impending speech writing duties, fret no more! Today we’re breaking down for you the step-by-step process of exactly how to write a great speech.
1 Tips to Write (and Live) By
Let’s start with the 30,000 foot, big-picture view. These are the tenants that will guide you in your speech writing process (and pretty much anything else you want to write).
- Know The Purpose: What are you trying to accomplish with your speech? Educate, inspire, entertain, argue a point? Your goals will dictate the tone and structure, and result in dramatically different speeches.
- Know Your Audience: Your speech should be tailored for your audience, both in terms of ideas and language. If you’re speaking at a sound healer convention, you won’t need to explain the concept of energetic blocks. And if you’re speaking to an octogenarians-only quilting circle, you probably shouldn’t drop as many F-bombs as you would with your local biker gang.
- Know The Length: You don’t want to underwhelm or overwhelm your audience.Ten minutes may be too short for your keynote address, but it’s probably too long for your best man speech. Don’t leave things up to chance. Your writing process will be much easier if you keep your eye on your target length.
- Write, Revise, Practice, Revise, Practice…: MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech wasn’t written in a day. Give yourself the time you need to practice your material and work through multiple drafts. Don’t expect to nail everything on the first try.
2 The Step-by-Step Process
Still feeling stressed over how to get started? Here’s how to write your speech from concept to completion.
Step 1: Outline your speech’s structure. What are the main ideas for each section?
Step 2: Flesh out the main ideas in your outline. Don’t worry about finding the perfect words. Just let your creativity flow and get it all out!
Step 3: Edit and polish what you’ve written until you have a cohesive first draft of your speech
Step 4: Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice your speech the more you’ll discover which sections need reworked, which transitions should be improved, and which sentences are hard to say. You’ll also find out how you’re doing on length.
Step 5: Update, practice, and revise your speech until it has a great flow and you feel it’s ready to accomplish its purpose.
3 The Universal Structure
Getting hung up on Step 1? Here’s a structure you can follow for any type of speech.
Who are you, why are are you giving this speech, what is your main thesis?
The “who” and “why” can be longer or shorter depending on the context. For example, if you’re speaking at a wedding, you’ll want to explain your relationship to the bride and groom and why they mean so much to you. But if you’re presenting to your class at school, you may be able to head straight into your thesis.
If you’re presenting in a business or motivational setting, this is a crucial time to hook your audience’s attention and pique their curiosity. Typically someone else will have already introduced you and your accolades, so use this to your advantage and dive straight in.
“Hi everyone, it’s great to be here! As Kevin just said, I’ve been an urban beet farmer for 30 years, and a couple years back I got this absolutely crazy idea. What if…”
Idea 1, Idea 2, Idea 3…
The majority of your speech should be spent presenting your thesis and supporting material in a simple, organized way.
Whether you’re giving an inspirational talk or a business presentation, rambling is a sure-fire way to lose your audience’s attention. Don’t try to share absolutely everything you know on your topic, instead pick a few (two to five) key points to present to your audience.
Stick to one point at a time and finish the thought before you move on to the next. Build in clear, logical transitions from idea to idea.
Want to make your speech memorable? Studies have shown our brains are great at remember stories! As much as is appropriate, make your speech personal and include your own anecdotes and thoughts.
We’re also better at remembering big ideas if they’re condensed into a few memorable words, so do your best to sum up your thesis.
“I have a dream.” “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” “Make good art.”
What do you want your audience to walk out of the room remembering?
Wrap everything up and drive home your main idea, whether that’s through providing a few (one to three) key takeaways, or telling one last story that perfectly illustrates your point.
Here are some examples of how your outline might look
As a researcher presenting your findings…
Introduction: Explain the key problem or question of your research.
Main Message: Describe the research process, then describe your three key findings.
Takeaway: Present your conclusions and their implications, then your next steps for moving forward.
As the maid of honor giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding…
Introduction: Explain who you are and how you met the bride.
Main Message: Recount three funny and heartwarming stories about your decades-long friendship with her, plus your first impressions of the groom.
Takeaway: Wrap things up by expounding on how amazing the bride and groom’s love for each other is, how they’re meant to be together, and how you know their love will last a lifetime. …L’chaim!
The beginning of your public speech is the most important part and if you don’t hit the nail on the head then you lose your audience immediately.
If you don’t engage your audience in the first five/ten seconds of your opening speech then they’re already going to be on their phone, they’re already going to be looking at Facebook and reading their email or they may have written you off completely.
Here is my advice on how to begin a public speech.
I want to look at some strategies for openings that actively engage your audience and draw them in and build rapport.
What we’re going to do is go through six ways to open your public speech and then a couple of things that you should not do. These different techniques obviously you can’t use them all at once because you only get one beginning so go through them and see which ones work best for your particular speech.
1. Shock and Awe
Number one is what I call shock and awe and it’s also been called pace and lead. Basically what you do is you open with a shocking statement.
Something that grabs people’s attention and draws them in and then you lead them through that. Here’s an example:
“Did you know that if you save 15 percent of your income (earning 6%) over ten years and you earn $100,000 a year at the end of ten years you would only have about $209,000 dollars to show for that. You wouldn’t be anywhere close to being financially free.”
That statement is a little bit shocking and then you go in through and you lead them and you talk about how you’re going to solve their problem for them.
2. Open with a Story
Stories are one of the most effective ways to open a public speech and to deliver a public speech. Make sure that you’re using stories throughout the speech.
As humans we learn and we grow through stories and we spend our entire lives telling stories about our day and listening to other people’s stories. That is how we learn and grow and that is how we remember as well.
People are more likely to remember the stories of your speech rather than the points that you might give. By opening with a story that relates to your speech that can be a very effective way to do this.
I remember watching one of the winners from Toastmasters I think it was about five years ago and he opened with a personal story about how he needed to validate his parking ticket and he went to the lady to validate it and he said “can you validate me” and then she gave him some compliments back and validated him as a person and that lead him into his speech about how we can validate other human beings.
That story that he opened with was extremely strong and as you can see I remember right now as we’re talking.
Stories are memorable; stories are impactful and stories are something you should definitely use in openings if you can.
3. Ask a Question
Number three would be to ask a question and then lead into your topic. You’re asking a rhetorical question to the audience.
We can ask: “Have you ever created a presentation and not known an effective way to begin that presentation and engage your audience?” Then that can lead into your topic about talking about presentations. That’s an idea of asking your question.
4. Who Wants What I Have to Offer?
This is basically an extension of number three which is asking a question. Basically we’re asking a rhetorical question where the answer is obviously always going to be yes.
Who wants to become rich? Who wants to earn $100,000 in passive income and be able to leave your job?
Things like this who wants to not have to deal with this anymore? Or who wants to save an hour of time every day that moves you towards your dreams?
All of these questions are things that people obviously want. Basically you’re opening with this obvious yes question which then leads into your topic about how you’re going to show them how to get that.
5. Utilize Familiarity
Use something that is familiar to your audience and using that familiarity to draw them into your speech.
Let’s say we were talking about taxes:
You could open with: “Death and taxes, the only two things that are certain in this life.”
That’s obviously a phrase that people are familiar with; that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. Then you can go on to talk about how you can avoid paying extra tax and things like that.
6. Be Yourself
Rather than going out there and trying to be funny if you’re not funny. Trying to be like Tony Robbins and pump everyone up if you’re not that sort of person. Just go out there; be yourself; let your personality show and let your personality shine.
That’s what people want to see. People want to listen to real people. They don’t want to see someone who is fake and if you try and be fake it will shine through.
Things You Shouldn’t Do When Beginning a Public Speech
A. Do Not Start With Your Name
Don’t start with hi my name is Ryan and I’m from X company and I’ve worked in the industry for seven years and worked in a variety of different fields within this industry and I’ve come to know … blah, blah, blah, blah. People do not care who you are. They care what you have to say.
I found that I was opening my speeches like this until I learned that doing this is such a silly mistake to make. At first it was hard to not say who I was especially when I’m doing training with stores and a bunch of staff that I haven’t worked with me before who don’t actually know who I am.
But to open up with something that’s engaging with them and then to bring my name and my credibility into it after I’ve already made a good impression, I found that that’s so much more powerful.
2. Don’t Tell People What You Are Going to Tell Them
People don’t want to be told what to do.
Basically avoid opening your speech with saying “now ladies and gentlemen today I’m going to talk to you about how to be an amazing ballerina” or something like that.
People don’t want to be told what to do; they want to be engaged.
What we want to do is use the more subtle approaches; I guess more indirect approaches that I mentioned above.
That’s shock and awe, using stories, asking a question, showing or asking a rhetorical question of who wants what I have to offer and using familiarity. Those five things are great ways to open a public speech.
I hope that this has given you some ideas that you can take and then apply to your public speech. Introductions are the most important part of your speech, so take the time to craft your opening effectively.
How to Start a Speech: 3 Key Points from a Seasoned Speech Coach
Watch the video below to find more insights on how to start a speech with power and confidence or scroll down to read the full blog post.
Find this video on starting a speech with power and confidence.
#1 Why “Good Morning” is a Big No No
First, when it comes to starting a speech effectively, you want to make sure that you drop or release the idea that you want to say to the audience “Good morning!”, “Good afternoon” or “Good evening. How are you all doing?”
Please do not do that when you start a speech.
No matter how many times you’ve seen other people start their speech that way, you don’t want to do it because it won’t have the speech impact that you desire.
Grab Their Attention from the Beginning
The reason is that when you start a speech, you want to grab their attention from the moment you open your mouth. Saying things like “How yawl doing?” or “Good morning!”, doesn’t grab your audience’s attention.
Let Me Share With You What You Need to Do Instead
You might be saying, well AmondaRose everybody starts with good morning or good afternoon, and I don’t know how to start a speech. The good news is I am going to help you change that and do what works rather than what doesn’t work.
Here is one strategy that you can use in starting your next speech. And it’s fairly easy to use as long as you follow the steps that I’m going to give you.
#2 Start with a Quote or Statistic
Begin your presentation with a short quote or statistic and position it this way.
Example: Statistic – “Public Speaking Fear is No 1 Fear that People Have”
For example, let’s use this statistic “Public speaking fear is the number one fear that people have.” Once again, it is “Public speaking is the number one fear that people have.”
If I was starting a speech with that statistic, I would say “Listen carefully. Public speaking is the number one fear that people have. Let me repeat that. Public speaking is the number one fear that people have.”
I positioned the quote or statistic with “Listen carefully” and say it again with “Let me repeat that.”
Doing it this way gives you an opportunity to repeat the statement and bring the point home.
Plus, if people weren’t listening the first time, you now have a second opportunity to get their attention.
#3 Short Concise Questions
Another strategy for how to start a speech is you can open with short and concise questions. Remember, I said short and concise. You have to remember that because long questions lose your audience.
Example: Opening Question – “Do You Want to Utilize Speaking to Create More Leads and Sales?”
Here is an example of a short and concise opening question that you can use as the start of your speech.
I might say “Do you want to utilize speaking to create more leads and sales?”
What if I said, “Do you want to utilize speaking to create more leads and sales, grow your business, take you to seven figures?
What would happen if I did that?
I would lose the audience. That is why your opening questions need to be short and concise such as “Do you want to know how to utilize public speaking to create more leads and sales? Or even simpler “Do you want to create more leads and sales?” Simple and to the point.
That is another great way to start a speech effectively and do it with power and confidence.
Remember the words that you say at the beginning of your talk sets a tone for the entire presentation. Now you know how to start a speech, create a presentation opening and do it effectively.
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