The Need To Start A Speech Well
When we have to make a speech we want to make a good one. We all want to make a speech that matters, a speech that will influence, educate and entertain our audience. However many of us never achieve this because we fail to start a speech well.
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
If you fail to capture your audience at the beginning it is very hard to make a good impression thereafter. You will have lost your audience to their Smartphone’s, daydreaming or their thoughts about something else.
This means that the beginning of your speech is the most important element of your speech. Start your speech well and you are halfway to success. The best speeches are meticulously planned with the speaker leaving nothing to chance. They know exactly who their audience is, they have reviewed the venue and most importantly they have practiced all elements of their speeches. There are a number of techniques they use to ensure they get their audiences attention from the start including the following,
1) Own That Stage
I remember giving one of my first speeches where I practically hid behind the lectern and held on for dear life. It was not one of my best moments but it taught me a valuable lesson. Your audience will always take their queue from you and if you are uncomfortable giving a speech they will be uncomfortable. Now I always try to own the stage, it is definitely a case of “faking it until you make it”. If you can’t be naturally relaxed just pretend until it happens naturally. This will come with some experience and it is easier to appear relax the more you have rehearsed your speech.
2) Show Your Passion
If your audience sees that you are passionate about your subject from the start it will inspire them. We all admire people who are passionate about their subject. It makes what they say more relevant because it is obvious they believe it is important and helps them in their life. If you can show your passion for the subject from the start it will make it easier for your audience to buy into your subject matter.
3) Be Different
When everybody starts his or her speech the same way, it becomes predictable and boring for the audience. Life gave you an imagination and a creative ability, use these abilities and think about how your opening can create an impact with your audience. Start your speech by making your audience sit up and pay attention to you. There is no magic formula for the best way to start a speech you need to work out something that works for you.
4) Include Your Audience
The best way to engage your audience from the start is to include them. Ask them a fun or interesting question, tell an amusing self-deprecating joke. The key is to make your audience feel valuable and let them know they matter to you.
5) Keep Them Guessing
Nothing generates more interest in people than not knowing what comes next in life. Some of the best speeches I have ever heard started in one way and finished in a completely different place. They were like being on an emotional roller coaster with no breaks. I had no choice but to listen to the speech. What this taught me was that often it is the suspense that makes us appreciate a good speech. Open your speech in a way that makes your audience wonder what is going to come next.
6) Know Your Subject
The best speeches provide value to your audience. They hear your speech and learn something new that helps them in their lives. People only learn from people they trust. Trust comes from believing the speaker is an expert in their chosen subject. To gain your audience’s trust you need to make it obvious from the start you are an expert and your audience will learn something from your speech.
7) Tell A Story
The easiest way to get your audience’s attention at the start of a speech is to tell a short story. Make the story relevant and amusing, a seamless introduction into your subject matter.
Start As You Mean To Go On
“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.”
The best speeches are carefully crafted and relentlessly practiced until they flow with ease. When you start a speech well you are signalling to your audience that you have something worth hearing. This only works when the rest of the speech delivers on your opening promise. It is particularly important that the last thing you say leaves a good impression on your audience. When planning your next speech open with bang, finish with a strong impression and deliver something worth hearing in the middle.