You have heard this before “First Impression is the Last Impression”. This is very true when it comes to starting a speech.
The first few seconds of your speech are going to decide if you can hold your audience’s attention till the very end. If your starting isn’t powerful enough to pull your audience’s attention, then people will begin shifting in their seats, checking their phones, muttering to one another, doing anything but listening to you.
In the following article, you will learn how to start a speech in an impressive manner that is going to enthral your audience till the end.
Let us get started …
How to Start a Speech? 8 Best Ways
1. Start with a Funny Incident or a Joke
Humour is an effective strategy to engage and connect with your audience. Starting a speech with a joke will break the formality or seriousness and make your audience more comfortable and receptive to your speech.
Your audience's laughter will not only boost your confidence but also help to connect with them at a personal level. Your audience will get to know about your personality from the very beginning.
You can also start your speech with a very funny incident that happened in your life. However, the joke or a funny incident must be closely related to the topic of the speech you are about to deliver.
2. Introduce Yourself Telling Your Personal Story
The best way to introduce yourself is by telling your personal story. A personal story of yours will evoke emotions in the audience and engage them.
For example, if you are making a speech in a farewell ceremony, you begin by sharing the hardships and challenges you faced in your life from high school to college to getting your first job. How you persevered and overcame challenges to become a successful person.
Make sure that your story sounds genuine and relatable to the topic of your speech.
After your introduction, the audience will have a better understanding of you as a person.
3. Quote\Powerful Phrase of a Famous Personality
Another best way to start a speech is by quoting a famous personality related to the topic of your speech.
A powerful quotation draw’s the attention of the audience instantly and conveys the purpose of the speech.
The quotation must be objective and relevant to your speech.
For example, I used to start a speech dealing with Investing by quoting Warren Buffet’s famous line, “The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient”.
The aforementioned quote brings objectivity to my speech. The audience will immediately realize that the emphasis of the speech is on investing money rather intraday trading. In other words, the speech is geared towards investors and not traders.
You can also choose a quote from a famous personality closely related to the topic of your speech.
4. Mention an Important Statistic and Ask a Question
Starting your speech with stats and data can surprise or shock the audience. Statistical data about your topic will present a real picture to your audience. They will be forced to listen to the rest of your speech.
For example, if your speech is about marketing, then you can tell how in this day & age, digital marketing is replacing mainstream forms of marketing like TV, Radio, and newspapers.
You can use graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams etc., to show how companies are allocating most of the marketing budget towards digital marketing rather mainstream marketing.
After presenting the data, you can leave your audience with few rhetorical or literal questions.
5. Explain the Problem
If your speech is going to be interactive with your audience, then you can start by explaining the problem. During the speech, you pose a problem to your audience and encourage them to think in a particular direction.
For example, if your speech is about climate change, you can start by explaining how the global north and global south see this issue differently. Both sides with different perspectives make the fight against climate change more challenging.
You can ask your audience to come up with solutions that can bring both sides on one page. This approach is more suitable if your speech is about more serious topics like climate change or geopolitical tensions.
6. Provide a Demonstration and Use Impressive Visual
If your speech involves enumerating the benefits of specific products and services, you can start by giving a demonstration. A demonstration helps to showcase the functionalities and capabilities of a product.
For example, Apple Inc is always expected to demo its newest version of iPhones and its operating system at a conference. In fact, Steve Jobs was very famous for it. You can also do the same.
If you are giving a technical, scientific or research-based speech, then start with a demonstration. Use Impressive visuals like images, power graphics, videos etc. The human brain retains visual details much better than verbal information.
To make your demo more interesting and interactive, allow your audience to participate in it.
7. Ask Your Audience to Think or Imagine a Scenario
If a topic involves active interaction with the audience then it is better to start a speech by asking your audience to think or imagine. You are nudging your audience to ponder over a particular scenario rather than letting them listen passively.
Let me give you an example if your speech is about cultural, social or political issues, which could be very polarizing. I would suggest you let your audience think and express their opinion rather you pushing your opinion on them.
After knowing your audience's viewpoint, you can make necessary changes to the rest of the speech you were about to deliver.
8. Just Stay Silent
Just stay Silent! This is quite an unconventional way to start a speech but not that uncommon.
Once you have reached the podium standing in front of a mike, you can stay silent for at least 15-20 seconds. This will draw the attention of your audience, expecting you to start speaking immediately.
The audience would get eager to know what you have to say in your speech.
These were some powerful ways to start a speech. Keep it in mind to deliver an impactful speech, and maintain a consistent flow and structure till the very end.
Finish the speech with a call to action that prompts your audience to act now.