Do you have a system to start your speech?
Many speakers start with the trivialities and thank you's. There is nothing wrong with saying thanks to the people that brought you in to speak. However, there are too many “Worn-out Welcome's” that speakers use that have been heard before.
Here is what happens when you start your speech the way that everyone else does: Your audience thinks “Okay, I have a few minutes before the speaker really starts their speech...let me (check my phone, run to the bathroom, whisper to my neighbor etc) for a few minutes.”
This happens all too often. Here's the good news – if you see something often, and you choose to do something differently, you will immediately stand out. And be remembered...
Here are 3 steps to note to start your speeches so that you will be unique, and memorable.
SPEECH START STEP #1 – Captivate
Key Question – How can you capture their attention?
When you speak, every word matters. Now don't get too strict on this if you will be giving a longer speech, but make sure your first few words make an impact. You have 8 seconds to make an impact, so ask yourself “How can I capture their attention instantly?” Among other ways, this can be done with a surprising statement, a story, or a specific quote or fact.
SPEECH START STEP #2 – Course
Key Question – What will they learn today?
How do you feel about movie trailers? As for me, I love them. I love the tease of what's coming to the theater. When you speak, give your audience a movie trailer experience. Give them a tease of what they will receive by listening to you. WHY? For the same reason that they do it in Hollywood – to get your crowd to want to “see your movie” aka listen to your speech. Tell your audience what they can expect to learn during your speech, make it all about them, and they will listen.
SPEECH START STEP #3 – Credibility
Key Question – Why should they listen to you?
Finally, you need to let your audience know why you are the expert that they should listen to. What is it in your (A) Life Experience, or (B) Business or Work Experience (or both) that makes you an expert about what you are about to share? Make sure that you give them a reason to trust your knowledge. However, notice the order here...Credibility is LAST.
Many speakers start with everything that they have done, and by the time they have build themselves up...their audience doesn't care anymore.
Start with the focus outward. Captivate their attention, tell them the course of learning for the day, then talk about yourself. Tell them what they will get first, and they will be happen to listen to why you are the right one to give it to them.
BONUS SPEECH START STEP – Capitalization
Key Question – Is there something current that I can bring into my speech start?
One more bonus step. Can you personalize your presentation to your audience of that day? Is there something unique to that audience that provides something useful that you can use to customize your presentation? If you can find something short and sweet to add into your introduction that is relative only to your current audience, they will feel special. Why? Because your speech won't sound like a canned repeated bunch of words – it will feel like a deliberate and caring attempt to cater to THEM.
Now get out there and as always...SPEAK. SHARE and SERVE.
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.