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6 Sure-Fire Ways to Begin Your Speech for Maximum Impact!

by Peter Fogel

posted in Business : Presentation

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We have all heard the expression "you never get another chance to make a first impression." In the public speaking world, the introduction is vital to your success. However, what you do AFTER your introduced is of even greater important.  And because it is, this is the exact time to hook your audience, grab them and move them to full attention.  The tone, the timbre and the feel of the presentation is all set by what you do after you introduced onto the platform. 

A well-written speech has a life cycle of its own. The introduction is the start of the curve, the body represents the bulk of the cycle,  and the conclusion, of course, is designed to bring the listener to a place of closure. 

Experience tells me starting with a bang, well set the tone for your presentation. Plus, it will be referenced in the body of your speech. And yes, will be referenced again in the conclusion.  Remember: The strength of your speech is the cohesive flow of ideas, the idea that starts with the introduction and flows through the presentation. 

Here are some suggestions for introduction hooks:

1) A provocative question
For instance, you might ask if your presentation is health related: "Did you know everyone in the room has been affected by cancer?"   This allows you to launch into the introduction of the speech and re-reference this concept throughout the presentation.  Do your homework before giving a speech. Find the hot buttons of your audience. I assure you, starting your speech with a provocative question will get your audience's attention -- every time!

2) Ask a direct question to a member of the audience
John, (person in the front row) I have to throw this question to you, "Have you been recently worried that global warming will impact your life?"

This gives you the opportunity to pitch both sides of the argument, if yes then you begin the presentation. If not, then present compelling evidence to support the view of the presentation. Using this style shows allows you set the proper tone of your whole presentation. In this instance your audience tells you how to proceed.

3) Tell a Story
By far the most powerful tool to connect with an audience is storytelling. Since the beginning of time, stories have helped us communicate and connect with each other. Most no mistake: A powerful story will stay with the audience long after they forget facts and information.  Your goal: Make it personal, make it rich with detail and give it a clear concise point. In other words, there has to be a reason to giving your story. People will forget the statistics you gave them, and possibly other over-whelming information. But the one thing they will remember are your stories. Humans can't help it. It's in our DNA.

4) Make a controversial statement
This can be a more complex opening, to originally provoke the audience.  Supporting a liberal view with a conservative audience, or vise versa; this will require winning them back over.   You will need to go past the shock and indignation of the audience to the statement, to win over your audience!

5) Create an exercise for the group
This is a favorite for corporate trainers, create an interactive exercise that will engage the audience and visually demonstrate a key concept for the presentation.  The reason why I like this particular introduction is that it breaks down the fourth wall and gets you to interact with your audience. Once you interact with your audience. You bond quicker with them.

6) Create a demonstration
The right demonstration can create a visual impact of smoke and mirrors to get the attention of the audience and to create a visual impact to support the presentation.  A demonstration is great because it raises your audiences curiosity as well as gets them out of hypnotic trance they might be in  (especially if you're speaking at say eight in the morning.)  Anything with action gets the juices flowing with your audience.

One last note:  There is a lot of competition in the speaking world, as it is in most professions. Being average and getting through the speech is NOT enough! You need to get your audience's focus IMMEDIATELY and keep it! For better or worse, your listeners are judging you from the last ten speakers they have heard that day or week. What is going to make YOU stand-out? Starting out strong with your speech is not luxury, it is a necessity if you want to make an impact.

About the Author:

Peter "The Reinvention Guy" Fogel is a humorist, seminar leader, and speaker coach who helps entrepreneurs, writers, and emerging speakers reach their full potential as effective communicators. He is the author of the bestselling book, "If Not Now… Then When? Stories and Strategies of People Over 40 Who Have Successfully Reinvented Themselves" and the soon to be released book, "Reboot Your Career: 27 Ways to Reinvent Yourself in the Workplace… If You Still Have a Job!" For more info on his products and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to effective Public Speaking E-course.. ($75 Value) Go to www.publicspeaklikeapro.com

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