Wondering how to start a speech with confidence, assertion, and style?
It is often said that the way you start something is the way you end it, and public speaking is no different. Speaking in front of your peers, friends or colleagues can often be an extremely daunting experience, but it’s definitely possible to practice and become better at public speaking over time. If you start a speech or lecture well, you’ll gain confidence and thus the rest of your speech is likely to go well.
There are lots of great ways to start a speech or presentation, here are my eight favourites:
1) Mention names.
If you aren’t hosting the event, thank the organiser for inviting you, mention their names and thank the audience for being there. People love to hear their own names and like to feel appreciated.
2) Speak about current events.
You could start a speech by talking about something important that has happened in the news. If something tragic has happened, maybe take a minute’s silence, or if something positive has happened, address that too. The main thing here is to address current events and engage your audience. An added bonus is that you’ll be presenting yourself as someone who is not only informed on what they’re speaking about but is also clued in on current events.
3) Start a Speech with a story, a real story.
People love stories and if it just happens to be yours, this is even better as you know it and can tell it with enthusiasm and passion.
4) Use a prop.
With a physical prop to get the audience’s attention, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your audience interested. Your prop could have nothing to do with your topic but it gets your audience to listen to you.
5) Make them laugh.
Opening a speech with a joke is a really effective ice-breaker, as long as you’re confident in your ability to read the room. You can, of course, use humour but be careful and be very aware of your audience and who is in it.
6) Open with a fact.
Your audience will see you as educated and informed if you open your speech with a fact, whether this is a statistic, historical date, or simply something interesting that loosely ties in with the topic about which you’re speaking.
7) Ask your audience questions.
Another way to start is to ask a question. This could be a rhetorical, open-ended question and you can address it to one person in the audience or generally to all of them. You can answer the question, to give your audience a sense that you really know what you’re talking about. Or you can simply give your audience something to ponder. This will disarm your audience and remind them that you’re just like them, and might not have all the answers.
8) Be authentic and be yourself.
Never try to be like another speaker or presenter. People can usually detect an inauthentic personality and will love you more if you are just you.
Practising your talk or speech is always a good idea, but don’t worry too much about learning each and every phrase off by heart. People love to see a passionate speaker, and the best way for you to be that person is by making sure you’re educated on your topic, as well as genuinely interested in it. Passion is infectious, and whether you open with a personal anecdote, a fact, a question or simply a show of appreciation for your audience, make sure you do it authentically and confidently. The rest of your speech will flow so much more easily if you open strong!
If you’re interested in improving your public speaking skills, you may be interested in my public speaking resources and workshops. To find out more, click here.