You have 30 seconds to command the attention of your audience. Don’t waste it!
Certain speech openings captivate, mystify, and create an emotional bond that keeps an audience in the palm of the speaker’s hand. What would you give to learn those essential opening moves? Those great ways to bond instantly with an audience so that you never see them dozing off or wandering out of the room?
Here are three sure-fire ways to start, whether you are a sales trainer, keynote speaker, business presenter, or any business professional who speaks in front of a group or would like to. It does not matter if your audience is in a board room, Zoom meeting, training center, or There is no right or wrong way to open, and these techniques are not presented in any preferred order. The best way to start depends on your style and the purpose of your message.
1. USE A STORY.
A story can provide a strong opening – however, only if it transitions logically and comfortably into the objective of your speech. I recommend using a true story, personal if possible, that you have polished until you are confident it will always be a success. An added advantage to a true story, well told, is that it doesn’t matter whether you get a laugh. For best results, your story needs to be tied into your premise or purpose.
2. USE A QUOTE.
General Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the ability to decide what has to be done and then to get people to want to do it.” When I talk about leadership, I often start with that quote. I’m also a believer in quoting others besides “Dead White Men” — although many of them have quotes worth repeating. Consider quoting live ones! When I’m talking about getting and keeping customers, I mention, “As Bill Gates said, ‘When you lose a customer, you lose two ways. First, you don’t get their money. And second, your competitor does.’ ” And pantomime stabbing myself in the heart, which usually gets a laugh. Find an influencer in your own life to quote. My father, Arthur Fripp said to me on the first day of my first job, “In your career, do not focus on making money. Rather, focus on becoming the type of person others want to do business with, and you will most likely make a lot of money.”
Quotes can be both informative and surprising. As the great philosopher, Raquel Welch said, “Style is being yourself but on purpose.”
3. USE AN INTERESTING STATISTIC.
I was on a program with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) in Atlanta. He gave one of the best written, best-delivered speeches I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, he had a great opening. He walked out and said, “If you were born today, you would already owe $186,000 to pay off your share of the national debt.” He was immediately compelling.
What also made it so good was Gingrich’s use of what I call a high I/You factor. He used “you” and “your” three times in his opening sentence, rather than “I” or “me.” How often do you include your listeners in your speech? Everyone in that audience sat forward. I didn’t write down his opening, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Patricia Fripp is a presentation skills expert. Companies hire her to help them drive more sales by perfecting their important conversations and presentations. FrippVT is Patricia Fripp’s online learning platform. FrippVT is the best, quick, convenient, cost-effective way to improve your public speaking, business communications, sales presentation, and presentation skills.