It’s the dreadful moment. You’ve just been called to the stage, and the audience has been silently waiting for you to speak. Now it’s your turn. But, what are your thoughts? How do you get a powerful and confident start to a speech The simple truth is that your audience will begin to judge you as soon as you begin your speech. It may come across as harsh, but it is entirely accurate.
As a result, it’s a good idea to begin your speech with certainty and confidence, in order to quickly establish a rapport with the audience and pique their interest in hearing what you have to say next.
The majority of speakers start their speeches or presentations with politeness. We’ve seen every single one of them. It’s a kind of prolonged throat clearing. You are opening your speeches just like every other speaker they’ve ever heard in their lives, and you’re boring. And because you start a speech just like everyone else, you must basically be saying the same as everyone else, and therefore it’s ok if I tune out, since I’ve heard that speech many times before.
It asserts that you cannot get right to the point quickly and effectively. This inability to punch instantly is deadly in an era where messages are limited to 140 characters or less. It also implies that you are unconcerned with other people’s time. Why waste the 90 seconds you have to get their attention by thanking strangers? So try these techniques out.
- Pose the rhetorical question.
Why are rhetorical questions so effective? Keep in mind that every public speech and presentation has a goal. It’s not as if anyone is standing there spewing data just to get it out there! Every speech, like this article, has a mission: to help you become a better speaker, particularly in the first 90 seconds of your presentation. Many who are unaware of this are the ones who are forgotten.
The rhetorical question narrows the emphasis of your speech to the one point you’re trying to make. So come up with a (non-cliched) way to frame your speech by posing a rhetorical question that gets people’s attention. Our minds are hard-wired to come up with answers to questions, which is why this approach works so well.
As a result, posing a rhetorical question draws attention to your message and encourages people to join you in your search for a response. And, of course, you’ll have a lot of credibility with the audience once you’ve addressed the question your speech was intended to address. So start your speech with a rhetorical question or a puzzle to solve; this establishes a target for your speech and instantly focuses it.
2. Make use of statistics that are important.
A head-turning statistic is a good way to start a speech. There’s a wrong way to do it and a right way to do it. The bad way is to cite a series of statistics that are uninteresting and uninspiring. Usually, this is due to the speaker’s inability to come up with a genuinely impressive and surprising statistic. And if that’s your opening gambit, chances are the rest of your speech won’t be nearly as good.
The proper way to do this is to reference a statistic that astounds you when you first read it, but then explain why the statistic is surprising. So don’t only state the number of text messages sent each year. The best approach is to understand the figure, which means that if you printed all of the text messages sent in a year on paper, it will stretch from the planet to the moon and back 25 times! Or some other equation you might think of, have fun with it! Statistics work well because they establish you as an authority figure. It gives people something amusing to tell their friends about.
3. I’m going to tell you a story.
A powerful way to begin a speech is with a convincing introduction to a plot. Storytelling can bring even the most mundane subjects to life. Consider what motivates you to do what you do. Is there a turning point in your life or career that brought you to this point? Was it ever said that you’d never be able to do what you’re doing now? Or can you draw an image of somebody you’ve helped, or someone you’d like to support, what does that person look like?
From the time we told stories to one another around a fire while sitting in furs, to the present day, humans are hard-wired to love stories. Regardless, stories are a perfect way to structure facts and relay information, which is exactly what public speeches are. It’s also fantastic to have characters, conflict, story, and resolution. So, to get the audience’s attention right away, try telling a story.
Stories will help you communicate with your audience right away and set the stage for the rest of your presentation. People would be much more likely to listen to, recall, and share your speech if it is based on a compelling narrative rather than facts and theory.
Finally, how you begin a speech is less important than you would expect. In reality, the most important aspect of beginning a speech is to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Your audience will have faith in you if you exude confidence. You do not, however, have to begin with everything perfect. In this scenario, practice really does make things perfect. Be authentic and be yourself.
Check out my related post: What to look out for when building your company’s core values?