Giving an effective speech means knowing who your audience is and what it wants to gain from your presentation. The opening of your speech is important for setting the tone, as well as for captivating your audience. It is important for you to craft a speech opener that demands your audience's attention so it stays focused on you and the information you present throughout your speech.
Jokes or Anecdotes
You can start your speech off by telling the audience a joke or funny anecdote. Not only do jokes grab people's attention, they also make audience feel comfortable by making you appear more personable. Make sure that if you choose to tell a joke or funny anecdote, you use one that is appropriate for the occasion and will not offend general audiences. You do not want to risk turning your audience away from the start.
Recite a Poem
Recite a short poem as your speech opener. When you are finished with the poem, introduce the name of the poet and tie it into your presentation material. For instance, if you are giving a speech about environmental conservatism, select a poem that talks about nature. If you are going to recite a poem, make sure it relates to what the presentation is about so that the meaning of the poem is more powerful for audience members.
Open your speech with a famous quote. Depending on the topic of your presentation you might select a quote from a president, scientist, actor, athlete or religious leader. Deliver the quote with enthusiasm to really emphasize its importance. Say it twice for more effect, then move right into your speech.
You may wish to offer shocking statistics as your speech opener to really draw in your audience. The more shocking the information you share, the more interest the audience will have in your presentation. Not only that, but statistics also give you advantage to the argument you are trying to make in your speech. Statistics are used to support speeches, so by providing your audience with a statistic up front you are telling them right away that you are credible.
One way to hook your audience is by starting out with a direct question. Ask them something of importance that is relative to the speech and why the audience members are there. If you are giving a motivational speech to audience members who are in recovery for alcohol abuse, you might start with a question like "How many of you have said 'no' to temptation in the last two weeks?" Direct questions give audience members something that they can relate to and it gives them a sense of being involved in the speech.
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