Knowledge on the topic alone is insufficient. You must have authority. Until you have convinced the audience that you are an authority on the subject you are delivering, you will not have their complete attention. Your task then is to impart your authority (experience, qualifications, etc.) as soon as possible via a brochure, a flyer and etc. Therefore, the introduction is important to arouse the interest of the audience and create the desire for them to listen to you. The introduction is the bridge connecting the speaker and the audience. It sets the tone and creates the environment best suited to receive the message of the speaker.
A good speech starts with a great “attention grabbing” introduction – an introduction that generates curiosity as well as alerts the audience. For a successful speech, it is important to attract your audience early in your talk. An inattentive audience suggests that the speaker and his message are not important. If the audience isn’t listening to what you are saying, the purpose of your speech will never be achieved. If you plan to motivate or inform or sell your ideas and people are not paying attention, you won’t achieve your goal.
First Things First
Before you start to write the introduction, make sure you know the steps for giving a great presentation. Make sure you know the purpose of your presentation, understand who the audience is and research the topic thoroughly. Once this is done, start thinking about how to organize the presentation.
The Four Simple Ways to Start your Speech
After the first things are done, start writing an attention-grabbing introduction. Given below are some ways to grab your audience’s attention. These tips, if used properly, will improve your speech by a great degree.
Here are the four simple ways to attract your audience’s attention –
1. Ask them a Question – Asking questions is a great way to start a speech. Questions engage people. Questions start our thought process as we tend to find answers for questions. One thing to keep in mind – questions asked should be appropriate to the group. Keep your audience in mind and ask the right questions.
2. Tell them a personal story – A personal story connects the speaker and audience. When the speaker talks about a personal story or an experience, it creates a sense of belonging and the audience will be attached and attentive.
3. Use a Quote – A quote from a famous personality is a great way to attract attention. Most famous personalities have made some comments that have become famous quotes. People can relate to those quotes. They are moved by these quotes because the quotes force them to redefine their perspective. Quotes are thought-provoking. This technique is especially useful when used in motivational speeches.
4. Present Interesting Facts – Presenting statistics and facts tells people that the speaker has done some research. Data are perceived as more authentic than most other methods. Everyone loves surprising facts. People like to be surprised and this makes them more attentive. Facts are very useful in informative and persuasive speeches. Once you have an attentive audience by delivering good introduction, next step is to keep the attention.
To keep the attention of your audience, present an equally good body and end with a punch. There are seven more ways to grab your audience’s attention.
We have briefly talked about what makes a great speech and how to organize your talk. We also discussed the importance of a good introduction. Let’s see some more ways to attract attention.
1. Show a Picture – The first tool in this list is using pictures at the start of your presentation. Using pictures as an introduction is a powerful way to attract the audience. A picture generates curiosity. It makes people wonder, what will be this speech about? They say “A picture is worth thousand words”, when used in introduction, people tend to ask “Which words?”
2. Draw on a Whiteboard – Whiteboard, flipcharts or the old blackboards, using them for introducing your speech is another unusual and uncommon way of starting your presentation. Draw or write something relevant to your topic and interesting for your audience.
3. Tell a Joke – Jokes ease tension and stress in almost any situation. Telling jokes during the first 30 seconds of your presentation can relax the audience and you – the speaker. Everyone likes to laugh, people like things that are funny and in general, people like people that are fun. But remember, choose jokes that are clean and appropriate, or this technique might fall on face and you might hamper your credibility. This technique works great for humorous speeches.
4. Share some News – Sensational news or an unexpected news interests people. If you start your speech with a recent news report on a related topic, audience will turn their radar on for more similar content which interests them. Alternatively you can also share some interesting facts, as discussed in previous post.
5. Create Drama – Dramatizing openings make a presentation very lively. Even before you greet your audience with a formal “Hello”, if a little drama is created, it will grab attention instantaneously. This is often a good start if your speech is a storytelling type.
6. A video – Just like showing a picture, a video can also do magic too. A short video about the topic, something that will generate some questions in the audience’s mind. Asking questions is one of the basic tools that was discussed earlier. Videos are very helpful in building a foundation of the talk and when used effectively, can make a speech successful.
7. Give a Freebie – This last tool, in this post, is the most uncommon of this list. This technique involves declaring that there are some freebies at the end of the speech for anyone who meets a certain criteria. I have seen this trick mostly used by people in sales. The criterion set for getting the freebie is usually answering a quiz, question or something similar to that.
8. Involve Your Audience – Engage your audience as and when you can to keep them involve in whatever you are delivering. Do some exercises, play some games or to sing a song are good ways to involve your audience. These will interest your audience by having hands-on on the things they are about to learn. On the other hand, it also allows your audience to remember what you had shared with them.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” – Proverb
The doing is much more powerful. Therefore, it is wise to involve your audience to do something together with you to drive the message into them.
9. Use Gesture Effectively – Gestures are like words. Use them only when they mean something. Experienced speakers use gestures to: o Emphasize o Elaborate points o Describe o Express emotion, etc. Don’t flap your hands when there’s nothing else to flap. Best to let your hands follow your line of thinking so as to gesture naturally.
10. Vocal Variety – Speak fast, slow, high, low, loud, soft, clear and most importantly, speak to be heard – don’t ramble in a monotone. Your voice can be trained. You can emphasize a point by raising your volume or by whispering. Sometimes a whisper well executed is much more effective.
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