When you deliver a speech, your time for winning everyone’s attention is limited. Actually, you have only 2 – 5 minutes at the beginning, when the audience listens to you and decides whether your speech is worth their attention.
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This is why you should always do your best to prepare a killer introduction for a speech that you are going to give in front of a live audience.
Speech Introduction: Main Elements
When introducing a speech, you should include the following 5 components:
And now let’s discuss these components in more detail:
- Hello everyone! Like from any other type of live communication, your audience expects a greeting. Avoid informal forms. “Hello everyone” or “Hey guys” would be inappropriate for any speech. Instead, you should use more conventional forms, such as “Good afternoon” or “Good morning.” Introduce yourself, if necessary.
- Attention!!! An attention grabber is arguably the most important part of your introduction of a speech. You should astonish or intrigue your audience. Use whatever will make them listen to you, but do not ask for their attention directly. The phrase “May I have your attention, please” might even have the reverse effect.
- Why should you care? Introduce your topic and explain why everyone should care about it. Show how the problem you are going to discuss is related to each and every listener. Explain the practical value of your speech to your audience.
- I am an expert! Include a credibility statement to show why everyone should listen to you and believe in what you are saying. Mention your personal experience related to the problem, if any. Do not simply say that you are an expert, but show why and how you have become one.
- Preview. Provide a brief summary of what you are going to say. Make certain not to reveal all the secrets right from the start.
Speech Introductions Grabbing Attention
Whereas everything is as clear as ABC with the other speech introduction parts, the attention grabber is a rather enigmatic element. It is hard to predict what exactly will keep the audience listening to you with their mouths open. This is why you should consider the following valuable suggestions and also some warnings:
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- YES: A decent and relevant joke.
NO: Do not include a joke only because all guidelines say that it can be a good attention grabber. Do not use humor if it contradicts the overall serious tone of your speech.
- YES: A relevant story.
NO: Don’t make it too long.
- YES: Include an analogy.
NO: Do not draw parallels between different aspects of life if you are not going to discuss the same point in your speech.
- YES: A quote.
NO: Do not use quotes of little known people or ideas, which are only remotely related to your research problem. For example, if you start your speech on leadership styles with a quote by Mahalia Jackson “You’re blessed if you have the strength to work,” you will puzzle rather than interest your audience. A big part of your audience will stop listening and start thinking instead “Who is Mahalia Jackson?” and “Why did the speaker mention this?”
So, grab the attention of your audience by including the 5 most important components in the introduction of your speech and keep them listening to your every word.