Public speaking tip: Grab attention with your opening

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Public speaking tip: Powerful opening grabs attention

One of the keys to a successful presentation is a strong opening. You grab the audience’s attention and get them into your “world” from the start. A strong opening piques interest in your presentation, and the audience wants to hear more.

Too often speakers begin with “Thank you, Mr. Jones. It’s great to be here. I’m honored to …” and so on. That portion is OK but should come after your attention-grabbing introduction.

You have four techniques to choose from: question, statement, anecdote/story and quotation. Use one of these public speaking techniques the next time you craft a presentation.

Question: Develop a question based upon your theme or main point. I have used these as openers:

“How many of you enjoy public speaking and take advantage of every opportunity?”

“When you hear the term ham radio operator, what images come to mind?”

Then give your “thanks” comments and proceed into your presentation.

Statement/Declaration: For best effect, select a powerful bit of information from your copy. Let’s say your presentation is on world hunger. You could start like this:

“You just ate a nourishing and fulfilling meal. In 2010, approximately 925 million people went hungry around the world. Just because the faces are unseen doesn’t mean the people don’t exist.”

You could also incorporate a question, as in:

“You just ate a nourishing and fulfilling meal. Did you know that in 2010, approximately 925 million people went hungry around the world? Just because the faces are unseen doesn’t mean the people don’t exist.”

Anecdote/story: This one requires a bit more skill, as good story telling is more of an art. But done properly, it can be really powerful. These usually are compelling, touching stories of how a person overcame adversity to become happy and successful today. Try to keep the story to about two minutes; this is just your introduction, so you don’t want it to drag on. If you can tell the story of a well-known individual, that’s even better. For added impact, don’t announce the name of the person until the end.

Quotation: Use a good resource guide to find a relevant and valuable quotation. There are many to choose from, so look for one that is not overused. A quotation, like the story, uses someone else’s experience, knowledge or opinion to bolster your position on a subject.

Use one of these public speaking techniques to craft the opening for your next presentation. I think you’ll agree that it will add immensely to your material and to your overall effectiveness as a speaker.

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For related reading, see “More tipes for an effective presentation” and  “8 more tips for a successful presentation”.

Which of these public speaking techniques have you found most effective? Feel free to comment below. And if you found value in this post, could you do me a favor and quickly share it with others?  Thanks!

Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy

 

 

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