“Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you…” Does this speech opening sound familiar? It should, because it is one of the most commonly used methods to begin a talk. It is the same thing that nearly every other speaker says. This opening practically guarantees one thing… the audience is about to ‘check out’ of your presentation.
Why? To quote Hall of Fame speaker and speech trainer Patricia Fripp, “Sameness is boring.” And boring is quickly forgotten.
If you want your message to stand out, say something different when you begin. You may be asking, “ How do I create an opening that is different, one that ‘stands out from the crowd’?” Excellent question. I’m glad you asked.
There are several effective opening tools you can use:
1) Ask a question (ie. What would you do if you had an extra $1500 every month?)
2) Make a startling statement (ie. You can change your entire future if you adopt this one, simple habit!)
3) Offer an interesting statistic (ie. Every baby born in America will end it’s first day $56,250 in debt!)
4) Begin with a story
Stories are my favorite method of beginning a presentation. One of the keys to this strategy is to tell stories from your life, then share the lesson you learned from those events.
It really is that simple. Why?
Too many speakers use tired and worn out anecdotes or stories that they find in Reader’s Digest, the Internet or pick up from other speakers. Chances are good that some of your audience members have already heard these. If that’s the case, you’ll lose credibility for your lack of originality.
When you share your story and your experience, you guarantee that no one has heard your presentation. How could they, it’s your story and yours alone.
This doesn’t mean the lesson you learned is unique, but your interpretation of it is. For example, in my speech ‘Put the Fun in Your Funk,’ I talk about injecting more humor into your life to get through difficult times.
Nothing unique about that, but what made the speech distinct was my experience of making a fool of myself in my car one day while stuck in traffic, and the reaction of another driver. The other story was my humorous behavior in the hospital when I was admitted for a serious illness. Those vignettes allow me to share my perspective on a common theme. I avoid the problem of sounding like other speakers.
Remember, sameness is boring. Although there isn’t an idea you can present that other speakers haven’t discussed, your life experiences are unique. For your next presentation, write down a list of events that have impacted you – no matter how great or small they may have seemed at the time. Write down the lesson from those experiences, and ask how your audience can benefit from them.
When you take the time to craft a speech from this perspective, you are well on your way to standing out from the crowd, and delivering a message that impacts long after you give your talk.
What have been your experiences with boring speakers? You’re invited to leave your thoughts below:
Speaking Education Tool of the Week
Humor Speaking Secrets by Craig Valentine
Craig, my speaking mentor, was recently called “the best trainer I’ve heard since being involved in this business of speaking” by Hall of Fame speaker Les Brown.
Audiences today want content – lots of it. They also want to be entertained. One of Craig’s strengths is his ability to make people laugh while teaching them important lessons. In this unique course, you’ll pick up definite processes and formulas for uncovering humor so you can keep your audience laughing all the way through your presentation. In Humor Speaking Secrets you’ll pick up 33 tools that you can use over and over again to get laughs each time you speak.
I’m sure, after a while, you’ll start using these tools automatically which will lead to amazing growth as a speaker. Plus, let’s face it. Isn’t it much more fun to speak when your audience is laughing and having a good time?
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