written by
Andy O'Sullivan

How to Successfully Start a Speech

2 min read

One of the most common questions that my clients ask is how they can successfully start a speech and ‘what to say’.

Successfully Start a Speech

Every presentation needs to be started to rapidly catch the attention of your audience and make them interested in listening.

Here are some recommendations on how to successfully start a speech.

Ask a Question
Have you noticed how you will always answer any question you're asked?

Even if you just answer its silently?

This is the power of a question!

Ask a Rhetorical Question
There is one significant advantage of asking a rhetorical question when you're nervous.

You don’t need to worry about whether anyone answers the question.

It's rhetorical after all!

Statistics that Surprise
We can often think of statistics as dull and boring rows of figures on a slide or spreadsheet.

Seek out a short statistic which will surprise and interest your listeners, grabbing their attention.

Here's an example of one statistic which surprised me:

1 in 6 women would rather be blind than fat
(Realbuzz, 2012)

Command Words
Starting your speech with a command is one way that's proved to get everyone's attention.

This type of start will be unexpected and entirely different from all the other speakers.

2 examples of the type of commands you could use: - 

  • Stop
  • Listen

Raise Your Hand
I regularly see speakers ask attendees to raise their hand when starting a speech.

A well-phrased question can work well here as a way to get people interested and involved.

In addition to being used as part of the opening, asking for a show of hands can be included in any part of a presentation.

We may not realise this, but even as adults, we all still love listening to stories.

The stories we share can be personal experiences or those of our colleagues, celebrities or maybe, if appropriate, the CEO.

These are the kind of stories that add interest and impact.

Stories about people the attendees know will create interest and a stronger connection than talking about concepts, theories, gadgets or gizmos.

Take the time to find quotes those attending the meeting are unlikely to recognise.

The quotes you select can come from many diverse sources.

Try to be different and look closer to home for examples from your parents, siblings, neighbours, in fact, anyone!

An appropriate unknown quote will create more impact on those attending the meeting than one they know.

When creating the opening for your speech, using one of these 7 proven methods will ensure you will successfully start a speech, helping to ensure your success!

About the Author

Andy O'Sullivan is an international bestselling author of 5 books on public speakingpitching and presenting. Andy is a speaker and educator on the subject of how to survive and thrive in the business world with effective public speaking, pitching and presentation skills.

To lose your public speaking fears and discover time-tested tips to your presentation success, simply book your free session with Andy HERE

How to Successfully Start a Speech

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