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How To Begin Your Speech with an Attention Getting Message that Wins Audiences & Clients

The worst introduction I've ever heard: “I'd like you all to stand-up. Now clap. You've given me a standing ovation and now I have to earn it.”

Guess what? The speaker didn't earn the standing “O” she forced me to give.

In fact, she turned me off immediately. I spent more time scrolling the ‘Gram than listening to her.

Since the purpose of her speech for her was to book new clients, this opening was a HUGE turn-off. You could literally here wallets slamming shut in the first 30-seconds on her keynote (in fact the woman, next to me started ripping up this speaker's order form slowly…and loudly…who knew paper could tear so loudly).

The most precious gift you receive as a speaker is the audience's attention. Research shows that audiences remember most what they hear FIRST. (This is called the primacy effect for you theory nerds).

Just like the dandruff shampoo, Head and Shoulders, reminds us – “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

The problem is that most introductions suck because they're challenging to craft.

It's the time where you are most nervous. Couple that with the added pressure of needing to shine and you are set up for failure. Let's discover how to begin your speech with a win.

How to Begin a Speech Does 3 Big Things:

An introduction needs to accomplish the following:

  • Capture your audience's attention
  • Build rapport with the audience (also known as establishing your credibility or showing goodwill)
  • Overview of where you are going in your presentation (remember the sexy organization post this is when your preview has that juicy goodness).

Here's the trick you need to accomplish these goals in a short amount of time: the rule of thumb is that an introduction should be less than 10% of your total speech.

The trick is to avoid the pitfalls of beginning a speech.

5 ways to blow your intro & send clients running!

Last year I wrote a series of articles about openers that lose your audience's attention is less 30 seconds. Here are 5 openings to avoid:

  • The dictionary defines – If I wanted to know how the dictionary defined something, I'd look it up.
  • Tell a joke – Don't put more pressure on yourself. If your joke bombs that'is what the audience is going to remember.
  • Me, me, me – No one wants to hear how awesome you are in the intro. Make it relevant to your audience.
  • The startling statistic – “Wow that statistic scared the crap out of me.” – Said no audience ever.
  • I'd like to talk about – Your complete lack of creativity for not coming up with a more interesting intro gets you starting off on the wrong foot.

The truth is that I'd bet every single one of us (myself included) have used one of these speech introduction techniques at some time. Now, we all know better, right?

Begin with a win

Creativity is key when captivating your audience. My advice is to brainstorm many openings and be relentless in your pursuit of the best attention-getter. If it doesn't feel right to you, keep revising. Here are some types of attention-getters to get those creative juices coursing through your brain.

  • Stories – Captivate and engage. Humans are storytelling creatures. We get lost in stories. Storytelling invokes emotions and lets your audience seem themselves in your speech. Check out this article on how to find stories to engage your audience with.
  • Quotations – Brilliant minds have come before you have written about your topic. Use a quotation to captivate and inspire thought and make your topic relevant.
  • State the importance – Related to storytelling, but telling your audience why this topic is important to them at this exact moment is a great way to intrigue and establish goodwill.

Make a lasting, memorable impact on your audience with a well-crafted introduction.

Begin with a win. Need more help? Check out this Slideshare.

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3 responses to “How To Begin Your Speech with an Attention Getting Message that Wins Audiences & Clients”

  1. Arpit Daniel Das says:

    Had seen this presentation of yours on authoSTREAM, but it’s even better to have an article made out of it!
    Just as it is said: First impression is the last impression, if you can’t engage your audience in the beginning then there would be no middle and end sessions for the presenter to come back with a bang.
    These are really great tips to begin your speech with a win.
    authorSTREAM Team

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Thank you Arpit! I was thinking I need to do a voice over with this presentation. Introductions are so important. I spent an entire coaching session yesterday working on one with a client. It’s that important.

  2. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Next Speech says:

    […] Begin Your Speech with a Win […]

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