How to Open a Speech | Public Speaking

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So, what’s the best way to open a speech? There’s no one hard and fast rule. It doesn’t have to be a great joke.

But here’s the one thing you don’t want to do. What most people do when they start a speech is they stand up, grab the lectern, “Uh, good morning. My name is T.J. Walker. My title is this. Today I’m going to talk to you about X,Y,Z. Before I do let me tell you about the boring history of my company that you don’t care about. Now let me tell you about all the cities we’re in that you don’t care about because you’re in this city.”

That’s how most people start presentations. It’s boring because you already know the person’s name most likely. Or you don’t care. You know the person’s title. And you either know it or you don’t care about it.

And if they’re telling you what they’re going to talk about, why do you need to listen now? It’s perfunctory. It’s a cliche. It’s boring.

What I recommend is just say one thing interesting to your audience and not about you. Where most people make a mistake is they start off their speech with talking about me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Here’s the one thing I guarantee about your audience. They don’t care about you nearly as much as they care about themselves.

So, start every presentation by giving something interesting and valuable to your audience. Talk about them first. Then and only then do you need to talk about yourself. Only then will they care about you.

Focus on your audience first thing out of your mouth and the rest of the speech should go fine.

15 COMMENTS

  1. We work with children and more often, they need to be speaking at competition. There they have to introduce themselves and their topic. Then, they need to have an attention grabbing start as you have mentioned.

  2. Interesting piece of advice. Will have to keep it in mind. However, seems sort of simplistic. An intro does not a speech make. Saying that if you get the intro right, the rest "should go fine" is a tad silly.

  3. It definitely is, and whether you do it heavily depends on your audience. However, I've found that it can dissolve a lot of the tension before a presentation.

  4. Just open your presentation with a random fact, like "The most money ever paid for a cow in an auction was $1.3 million. NOW ON TO OUR TOPIC."

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