How to start a speech with power and confidence?
Remember the moment. You have just been called to the stage, your audience are silent, waiting for you to open your mouth and now it’s your turn. But what do you say? How to start the speech? Should you start with thanking everybody or straight to the speech?
The simple truth is your audience will judge you from the moment you start your speech. Harsh, but true! So it’s a good idea to start your speech with certainty and confidence. Here are some top tips for how to prepare yourself to start your speech with power and confidence.
Starting a speech is not only about the choice of words.
Starting a speech is not as much about what you say as you might think. In fact the key thing I want to emphasise about starting a speech is to get yourself in the right state. If you show your confidence, your audience will have confidence in you too. That doesn’t mean that you have to go all the guns blazing from the very start. Remember, the audience over there is watching every bit of you, if your body tells them, that you are comfortable, they will also be.
The biggest phobia of Public speaking comes because, we try to be someone which we are not. We try to emulate somebody, and we are afraid we will fail in doing so. Therefore try to be yourself, you will be the most comfortable portraying yourself, which will make your audience also. First find out what is your way of kick starting a project. If it is not with all guns blazing then don’t do it. Work around it. Find a different way to start that’s powerful for you.
Ways of starting
How to start your speech depends on you, what you think suits you and your topic. Below are only few examples which can help you. Don’t hesitate in innovating or finding your own way.
The Startling Statistic: Opening with a startling statistic is a terrific way of grabbing the audience’s attention from your first word. In order to be effective, the statistic should be related directly to the main purpose of your talk. “Statistic” doesn’t mean the same as “data.” If you’re giving the audience a number, you should set it within a broader context to help infuse it with greater meaning.
The Anecdote: A story, case study, or personal anecdote is perhaps one of the most effective / used tool for transferring information from speaker to audience. You can refer to a short story related to the topic as a beginning. You can look at my club level winner humorous speech as an example.
Ask a Rhetorical Question: Ask the audience to imagine something by using a rhetorical question. It would be much better if you don’t use the specific word imagine, but your question triggering the visualization process.
Ask a “Show of Hands” Question: I have often been to public speaking workshops which starts with a “show of hands” question. Those questions can increase audience buy-in from the very beginning, since members of the audience are able to see how their answers compare to those of their peers.
Speak With Your Audience: I have an habit of asking questions to my audience at the very beginning of a presentation. Doing so helps create a climate of audience participation from the start. Plus, their answers are often useful for helping me better understand the audience.
Build Off The Conference Theme: If you are speaking in a conference or a workshop you can build an open by using the name of the conference, program, or event (or something relevant about the city, state, country, or hotel where you’re giving your speech).
Mention Something In The News: It’s often easy to turn a generic speech topic into something immediately relevant to your audience.
For example, let’s say your presentation is about the education system. It’s not hard to imagine that any news on education system be it good or bad has occurred recently the more recent the incident, the better it is, at least for your purposes). Use the news to suit with your presentation.
Use Humor: - This is probably the best and the riskiest option. Opening a speech with humor can be incredibly effective – but the humor should be directly tied to your main point. Remember to use humour which is related and it should not hurt any section of the audience. Tips can be found at “ Tips for incorporating humour in a speech”.
Unless you’re extraordinarily funny, don’t attempt a joke similar to those often told by stand-up comedians. Share a humorous story, quote someone else who said something funny, or begin by showing a particularly funny cartoon. Don’t deliver your lines like you’re expecting a laugh – if the audience happens to laugh, that’s great – but if they don’t, just keep going as if that was the plan all along.
Think through these ideas as you develop your next presentation. Keep your eyes and ears open for interesting quotations, statistics and personal anecdotes; they’re all around you. And take time to review your old speeches. A fresh opening can breathe new life into an old presentation.