How You Open Your Speech Matters

open your speech
I did my homework and crafted a magnetic title for my speech. The title however, didn’t provide any direction for the audience. But I believe the title of my speech had the audience intrigued enough to pay attention to the opening of my speech.

As I walked up to the stage I played out the plan in my head of how I would grab the audience’s attention and finish my opening with a question, followed by an answer.

After I was introduced I began executing my plan of grabbing the audience’s attention, with a 3 startling facts. Then I finished the opening of my speech with asking a direct question to someone sitting in the front row. I caught the audience member off guard and he didn’t come up with the right answer.

This worked out great for three reasons.

1. It shifted the audience’s gaze from me to the person sitting in the front. This allowed me to move towards the center of the stage to setup the final part of my opening, the correct answer to the question I asked of the audience member.

2. It showed the audience that this would be an interactive speech and that at any moment I could call on someone in the audience. I felt by doing this I would gain the audience’s undivided attention. Who wants to be caught not paying attention?

3. It left the audience hanging. Wait what’s the answer?

Feeling that I had everyone where I wanted, I plopped my butt in the medal folding chair and answered the question with not only my words, but my body.

I took a chance by asking an audience member a direct question as a part of the opening of my speech. It could have backfired, but what’s life, if you’re too scared to take any chances?

Knowing I had accomplished the goal of grabbing the audience’s attention with my opening made the rest of my speech much easier to deliver. Why? Because I had something to hold onto, the audience’s attention!

I was able to perk the audience’s interest from the onset with a thought provoking title, that provided no real direction for my speech, but intrigued the audience just enough to pay attention to the opening of my speech.

With the shortened attention span of people today, it is critical to have an opening that grabs the audience’s attention. The rest of your speech should be designed to hold the audience attention. Now if you fail to grab hold of your audience with your opening, your speech will have nothing to hold onto.

What are you doing to grab your audience’s attention?

3 thoughts on “How You Open Your Speech Matters

  1. A question, an anecdote, a powerful quote or humour relevant to the speech, always gets the audience’s attention. This is part of our “learn by doing” culture in Toastmasters International…

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