How to Open Your Speech With a BANG!
When you begin your speech, what are your first words?
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a pleasure to be here.” Or, “What a great day. Isn’t it beautiful outside?”
If this is how you are opening your speeches, please heed this one word of advice…
Your Speech Has to QUICKLY Connect
Research has shown that you have 7 to 30 seconds to make a positive impression when you speak to an audience. In fact, before you ever walk to the front of a room – before you even speak – you are being judged. Your appearance, the expression on your face, your manner of walking, etc are being watched.
Is this fair??
Nope! But, it’s a fact and one you must be aware of to make a positive first impression.
Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp says that audiences will forgive just about anything EXCEPT being boring. The openings you read in the first paragraph are dull and deadly boring. That’s how most speakers begin their speeches.
What can you do to make an impact in the first few seconds?
Four Proven Ways to Open Your Speech
Ms. Fripp suggests [and I agree] you should ‘Come Out Punching.’ Do or say something different that immediately grabs the audience’s attention. There are dozens of options, but four of the most effective are:
1) Tell a story
2) Recite a quote
3) Ask a question
The Power of Silence
My favorite is number 4 because it is rarely used, and extremely effective. Think about an audience when you first stand in front of a room. They’re most likely shifting in their seats, rustling papers, and not paying attention to you because they’re distracted, or lost in thought.
When you stand quietly, and confidently with a smile on your face, making eye contact with as many as possible, you will get their attention. Try this for 5 to 7 seconds and feel your audience become drawn to you.
WARNING: The first time you try this, you will NOT last 5 seconds. You will feel uncomfortable, scared, and maybe even sick to your stomach. That’s OK. I felt all of those emotions the first few times. Try stretching that opening pause by 1 second every time you speak, and you’ll get comfortable with the pause.
Your Open Must Relate to Your Main Point
After that attention-grabbing pause, jump into your opening story, quote or question. Be sure that it relates to your main point. Nothing confuses a group more than mixed messages.
Consider my speech Question Man. It’s about improving relationships by being a better listener. My opening story is about a ‘conversation’ I was having with a family member. She was trying to confide her frustrations to me, and I wasn’t listening. The subsequent strain on our relationship could have been avoided if I’d been a better listener. It was an excellent story to segue into my main point.
A Key Question to Ask During Speech Preparation
As you write your next presentation, ask, “Is my opening simply full of ordinary pleasantries that will be quickly forgotten, or am I doing something memorable that will ‘grab’ the audience?”
Remember, every time you stand in front on an audience, you have an opportunity to either stand out… or quickly be forgotten. If you have the courage to be different during those crucial opening seconds, you’ll quickly move ahead of most speakers and enhance your chances to connect with your audience.
Come Out Punching!!
Dynamic Delivery Devices by Craig Valentine. Craig is a very successful professional speaker and my main mentor. One of his strengths is his ability to deliver his speeches in a conversational style and ‘put you in the scene’ when he shares his stories.
In this DVD program, Craig delves deeply into dozens of delivery tools that help your speeches and stories come to life, create an edge of their seats experience for your audience, and keeps their attention from beginning to end.
If you want to save years of learning time and become known as a speaker who creates an experience, I highly recommend this program.
Click here for additional details. After clicking the link, scroll down to the Dynamic Delivery Devices 3-DVD set for Speakers. Click on the More Information tab.