There is no other place which is so vitally important to its success than the speech opening. Drawing your audience in is crucial to delivering your message. You only have seconds to do this at the outset of your presentation.
Many presenters will rely on a joke to open their talk. This does have some merit in the right situations as it serves as a great ice breaker and stress reducer. This can be effective. You have to ask yourself: Is it appropriate? Not only the joke itself, but also does it fit the overall feeling of what you are presenting?
A lame joke opening up a speech on the concerns of industrial water pollution may not give you much solid ground to stand on as you move forward with your presentation. Similarly, as best man at a wedding, opening with grave facts on spousal abuse will do nothing to help you set a celebratory tone.
Here are 3 samples of an opening for a speech concerning the importance of honey bees:
Opening 1 - "I'm here today to talk to you about the importance of honey bees."
Poor. Lacks any originality. Will do very little to draw an audience in.
Opening 2 - "Albert Einstein once said: 'If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than 4 years to live'."
Better, as it presents a quote, as well as a startling statment to consider.
Opening 3 - "Imagine a world with no apples. No pears, no blueberries or blackberries. A world with no cashews or almonds. No coffee. No flowers. No vanilla. Imagine a world without chocolate. This is only a minuscule selection of the thousands of plants that bees provide us with both sustenance and beauty all around."
Even better, as it provokes thought, as well as demonstrates how this is directly linked to the average persons day to day lives.
Make the opening suit your speech. It could be a joke. It could be a startling fact, a quote, a preposterous statement, a profound question. A visual with no words may even accomplish the objective. It should also lead naturally into the body of your presentation and be relevant to its conclusion.
Whatever it is you choose, realize how important these first few seconds are in your speech opening, and pack them with a subtle power that engages your audience.
What's a great speech opening that you've heard? Tell us about it!
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