When it comes to public speaking, you only have between five and thirty seconds to grab your audience’s attention before you lose them completely.
That’s why the opening lines of your speech are critical.
But let’s be honest…there are plenty of ways to butcher the opening lines of a speech. And I guarantee the #1 most awful way to open a speech is not what you think, because it’s a phrase we use all the time.
“Thank you for having me.”
“Thank you for having me” is the #1 most awful way to open a speech.
Sure, it’s polite, but it’s boring, mediocre, and predictable. It’s an instant snooze fest. When you only have seconds for your audience to decide if they want to lean in and listen, or pick up their phone and disengage, you can’t afford an instant snooze fest.
So, as tempting as it may be, never open your speech with unpleasant pleasantries like “thank you for having me.”
Instead, open with a bang.
Capture your audience’s attention from the very first words out of your mouth. If you can do this, then your audience will almost always stay locked in for the rest of your presentation.
Now, you may be wondering, “How can I possibly open with a bang?”
Here are my top 3 favorite ways to come out of the gate swinging and open your speech with a bang.
1. Open with a Question
If you choose to open with a question, it can’t be just any ole’ question. There are 3 elements your question must include:
- It relates to the content of your speech.
- It’s what I like to call “you-focused.” In your head, pick one member from the audience and address them directly, as if they are the only person in the room, and make sure you use the word “you.”
- It’s a question your audience nods their head “yes” to.
The goal is that every member of your audience sits up and thinks, “Yep, she’s talking to me!”
2. Open with a Startling Statement
This can be anything: a crazy statistic, a pop culture reference, anything! But again, it must relate clearly to your content. You don’t want your audience chasing their tail trying to connect the dots of your speech.
3. Open with a Story
If you’re like me, then you’re passionate about the power of storytelling. Opening your speech with a story, especially one that’s appropriately personal, immediately creates a bond between you and your audience. You’re giving them an inside look at your life; naturally, they will begin to like you. To trust you. To relate to you. And the more they relate to you, the more they’ll want to keep listening!
If you want to pick up more opening with a bang tips and tricks, tune into our Crazy Good Talks podcast episode, “How To Grab Attention From The First Words Out Of Your Mouth.”