The saying, ‘you never get a second chance to create a first impression’ holds true for a speech too. It is crucial to make a positive first impression on your audience while staring a speech. It is true that the audience judges the speaker from the moment the speaker starts to speak. Thus, it is absolutely essential to start a speech with power, certainty and confidence in order to build an instant connection with the audience and grasp their attention and to make them eager to hear what you’re going to say next. Let’s look at some way through which you can start a speech.
- GET YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT STATE: What you say when you start a speech isn’t as important as you think. The most important thing before starting your speech is to get yourself in the right state. Thus, if you exuberate confidence and positivity, your audience will also reciprocate the same confidence and positivity in your speech.
- BE YOURSELF: Avoid committing the mistake of trying to be someone you’re not, when starting your speech. The key to feeling confident while starting your speech is to be yourself because that’s what you’re most comfortable with.[i]
- OPEN WITH A RELEVANT QUOTE: Quotes help you say a lot in very few, refined words. Starting a speech with a quotation sets the tone for the speech and gives it a direction.
- RAISE QUESTIONS: Questions get the audience involved in a speech. When you pose a rhetorical or literal question while delivering a speech, the audience tends to intuitively answer it even if they’re not asked to. This keeps them engaged in your speech.
- DON’T LET THE FIRST WORDS BE BORING: Find something unique, memorable and engaging to say for the beginning of your speech. Don’t let it be routine, boring lines which the audience is expecting to listen to anyway. For it, you can use a shocking fact, a provocative question, a quote, a joke or even create an image in the mind of the audience.
- TAKE APPROPRIATE PAUSES: Often while speaking, we tend to give focus only on the words that we’re using. It is important to understand that the same amount of weightage should be given to pauses, as is given to the words. A perfectly timed pause, for a reasonable length of time, allows the audience to settle down and grasp what you’re saying. It gets their attention and keeps them curious to know what you’re going to say next.[ii]
- COMPLIMENT THE AUDIENCE: Smile and greet your audience as if you’re really glad to see them and have a look on your face of meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. You can also begin with complimenting the audience with sincerity and respect and express how it’s a pleasure to speak before them.
- START BY REFERRING TO A RELEVANT CURRENT EVENT: If there is a scope for it, translate a current event from the front page of news to illustrate or prove your point while speaking. This gets the attention of the audience immediately and makes your content very relevant to them.
- GIVE HOPE TO YOUR AUDIENCE: The ultimate purpose of a speech is to inspire an audience to do things they would not have done in the absence of your speech. Thus, give people hope of some kind and relate your words to actions that you would like your audience to take also referring to the rationale behind those actions.