Good openings to speeches count for a lot. They don’t guarantee a good result for your speech—but a good start is a near certainty for public speaking success. But knowing how to open your speech with style counts for a lot.
Starting your speech comes down to your choice and style. Choose something with which you are comfortable. And to make it even simpler there are at least five ways to open your speech with style.
Novelty. An innovative way to open your speech might take advantage of external props, lighting or sound effects. It could involve you speaking from somewhere other than the podium – perhaps from the middle of the audience seating area. The novelty start aims to build interest and appreciation right from the start.
Drama. A dramatic start to your speech could involve a serious tone of voice, an exclamation or a shout. It might entail a news item or some note of heightened urgency. Dramatic and novelty openings might well be considered together when opening your presentation.
Ask a question. When you raise a rhetorical question during your opening you don’t expect it to be answered by your audience. Instead you use the question to set the framework for your speech. You pose an answer and then build the interest.
Humour. A humorous start to your speech should succeed in setting the tone for the rest of your speech. But note that good humour has to be planned and timed to perfection. Practise and test this way of opening your speech. Note also that any humour should be safe for your particular audience.
Reference. Referring to other events, people, places and pastimes can be an effective way to open your speech. References set out parallel paths, connections and links that deserve further exploration. The most popular of all speech beginnings, the reference is a simple and effective start.
How you actually start your presentation is a matter of personal choice and style. There are several options always available to you. But your choice has purpose. Your opening aims to lay out the common ground with your audience. It sets the tone for everything that follows. It builds interest. And it affirms why you are qualified to speak on the subject.
“A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority”