The beginning of your speech is incredibly important. It sets the tone for your entire presentation. The audience is going to decide at the opening whether you deserve their full attention or not.

So, you need to be armed with techniques that work to grab your audience’s attention right out of the gate. Incidentally, “Good morning! I’m sure glad to be here.” is not a strong opening. The sooner you can get away from boring salutations as a way to open your speech, the better.

Here are 3 ways that are sure to work for your next presentation. 

1. Ask a question. Get the audience thinking and reacting right away. “Would you like to double your income this year?” “Would you like to fund your own retirement?” “Are you tired of the rising cost of healthcare?”
Think about a question that will get people excited to hear what you have to say about the subject you’re questioning them about.

2. Make a provocative statement. With this technique you aren’t asking a question, but rather saying something that really grabs attention. “The state prison in Chino is at 200% of capacity. It’s time for change.” “If our national trend continues, 42% of our population will be affected by obesity by 2030.” “1,000 children will die of starvation during the next 45 minutes.”

Please note that I’m not responsible for the accuracy of the statements above. They are mere examples for ways you can open a speech and provoke the audience to want to hear what you have to say next. Be sure that if you use this technique your opening statement is very provocative.

3. Open with a story. Rather than start with ‘Hello, I’m going to share with you some great information on how to save for retirement…” go with “14 years ago Sue and Dave Johnson sat down at the kitchen table after dinner and took a look at the balance in their retirement plan. The figure was $8,000. Sue looked at Dave and said, “Honey, we’ll never retire if we don’t do something now.”

Can you see how this opening will be much more interesting? People are oriented to listen to stories and they’re also much likelier to remember the details. Later in this same speech the speaker will be able to hark back to Dave and Sue.

It takes time and thought to open with something more interesting than “Good morning!”, but it sure is worth it. Start right and the audience will be eager to hear what you have to say.

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