We always want to open our speech with a bang, with style that is impactful and catch the attention of the audience instantly. A monotonous opening like “Thank you very much for such an kind introduction. I had been waiting for this event since long, and so on…” can bore the audience. What I think is that most of us want something different for our presentations since we have got those public speaking and presentation skills that can astonish the audience.
First of all it is important to know what the purpose of opening of a speech is. It can be:
- To catch the attention of the audience.
- To introduce the topic.
- To establish a relationship with the audience.
It should be remembered that the opening of your speech must take only 5% of the total speech time.
You can start directly with the topic or you may use an appropriate transition to come to the topic. The point here is to say something that grabs the audience’s attention. It can be something convincing, humorous, astounding, or creative.
Following are a few techniques you may wish to apply while making an opening for your next public speaking subject:
- Ask a Question: Asking a question straight away engages the minds of the audience into thinking about the answer. For eg. In a speech about our independence, you may ask “Do you remember how we got independence?” or “Do you remember how our freedom fighters worked for independence?” You may not be looking for an answer from the audience but you want their mind to be diverted towards your topic and this is what you actually want in public speaking.
- Using a Quotation: You can also give a quote of a famous person to the audience and then relate it to your topic. For example, we may begin a speech on leadership by saying “Jim Rohn once said that “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” Yes, this is exactly the main objective of the leader but today we will also look at what other objectives and responsibilities does a leader have.”
- Using the Past: Relating your past experience with the topic right in the beginning can also be another option. For example, when you have to tell about how to write a book, you may start with “Last year when I thought of sitting down and writing a book for masses, the first issue that struck me in the face was, “would I be able to connect to the masses?”
- A Startling Statement: An educational or informational talk can be started by giving a surprising statistics or facts or a bold statement followed by a pause. For eg. “The greatest fear of many people is to speak in public. The second greatest fear is to die.”
- Occasion: Say something about the occasion. It works really well if it is an anniversary or awards night. “To speak to you on this 3rd inter-batch competition is an honour.”
- Tell a Story/ an Anecdote: Most of us can instantly relate ourselves to the anecdote/story and our minds are then open to the broader message the speaker has to share. These genrally start with the word “Imagine”. For example, “Imagine yourself in Mauritius, sitting on a beautiful, secluded beach, a gentle breeze blowing…”.
These are only a few techniques for having a better opening to your speech. Think through these ideas or create some of your other ideas as you develop your next public speaking project.
Mr. Anurag Aggarwal, the author of this article is a trainer at ‘Anurag Aggarwal Institute of Public Speaking’ and provides training in Public Speaking, Personality Development and Presentation Skills. In this course you will be trained in all those things which are stopping you from growing in your career. The best course in today’s life is “Public Speaking Course”. A lot of people have problems regarding their communication skills, interacting with people and in presenting themselves in front of public. Whether you are in IT industry, modelling, Aviation industry, or Media Industry this course has all those contents which are very useful in your day to day life.
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