3 Simple Speech Openers: How to Open a Speech
The beginning of the speech is crucial.
Mainly because the audience members are physically present.
That’s up for grabs.
The purpose of the speech opener is to bring the audience to the present moment.
Once you have captured their attention, now your speech moves in full effect.
However, with speech openers, it’s easy to suffer from analysis paralysis.
The mind is given too many options!
In this article, you’ll learn the theory behind the opener & a few clever ways to get started.
It’d be a shame if no one is paying attention.
A Great Opener
People are busy.
They are with their problems, not with your speech.
The goal of the opener is to bring them to the present moment with something that is CONGRUENT to the speech.
If you jump around like a monkey, will you have their attention?
But is it congruent to your speech?
Unless your speech is about monkeys, then no.
A great opener is something that gives some information, but not all of it.
It’s similar to when you tell your friend:
‘Dude, you won’t believe what Mikey was saying about you. You know what? I can’t tell you what he said. It’s just too bad!’
Your friend will feel a SURGE of feelings.
Those feelings are beyond logic.
By engaging those feelings, you have your friend’s attention.
A great opener is congruent to the speech.
And a great opener sparks curiosity.
The law of closure is when a human naturally wants to close the gaps in understanding.
When you present a curious situation, they will WANT to listen so they can close the gaps.
3 Potential Speech Openers
The following are simply suggestions.
Take the patterns that work for you.
But realize that these are only patterns.
Once you get a general flow for a few of the speech openers that I’m bringing up, it will be easier to open your speech.
Let’s start with a few.
1. Shocking Statistic
Statistics satisfy the intellect.
Shock satisfies the heart.
A combination of the 2 sparks curiosity.
‘Why a shocking statistic, Armani?’
A shocking statistic that is relevant to your speech.
If the talk is about nutrition.
Maybe you can drop a truth bomb about the likelihood of getting a heart attack for not eating properly.
It’s even better if you can cite a respectable source.
The audience members will be like:
‘Um…why is he telling me this? Is there something I should know?’
Once you bring up the opener, it’s easier to give a preview of what is to come.
An opener is not only a line in the beginning.
It’s an experience & a preview of the upcoming movie.
2. A Joke
Never undermine the power of a laugh.
Whenever you make someone laugh, whatever you say next is being picked up by them.
It’s because adults live stressful lives.
They are looking for some type of escape.
A speech that opens with a joke automatically disarms these worked-up adults.
It helps them loosen up.
More importantly, a lot of the audience members are nervous.
They often assign a high social value to the speaker.
Then their narrative mind is like:
‘What if this high-value speaker calls on me & makes me look like an idiot?’
By telling a joke from the beginning, you prove yourself to not to be a threat.
It’s easier to warm up to you now.
3. A Story
In June 2018, I recall this public speaking coach telling a story about:
How people lack heart.
He was saying this story in a direct & fed-up tone.
I looked around me.
Business owners, CEOs & local entrepreneurs giving the face of:
‘Seems like he is talking to me.’
This speaker pulled a veteran move.
He gave the audience a wake-up call from the beginning by sharing a story that resonated with them.
However, he never directly insulted them.
His story had a relatable character that the audience could see themselves in.
This is something that you can do too.
Create a story with a relatable character that the audience members see themselves in.
Just like when you make a person laugh, they pay attention.
When you remind someone of themselves, they pay attention.
These are 3 suggestions from my end:
- Shocking statistic
I am intentionally not giving you a list of 50 different speech openers.
To help you avoid analysis paralysis.
Try this really quick.
Close your eyes.
Pick a topic.
What is it?
With your eyes closed, create a scenario where a speaker is presenting a speech about sharks to you.
How are they opening the speech to capture your attention?
Your body is the compass!
Create a few scenarios of how the speaker opens their speech.
Which ones are hooking you mentally & physically?
Think of a few openers that fit these criteria.
You’ll start to develop a FEEL for a good opener.
Build Captivating Speech Openers
The middle & end of the speech is impactful.
However, it’s the opener that sets everything in motion.
It allows you to capture the minds of the audience.
Bring them to the present moment.
Give a preview of the talk.
Then proceed to the middle and end.
Never sleep on the opener.
But don’t take it so seriously to a point where you are suffering from analysis paralysis.
The right opener will hit you on the chest.
You’ll know when you have it.
Meanwhile, develop patterns that work for you.
What allows you to feel hooked?
Whether it’s a topic on sharks.
Or a topic on yourself.
Once your body begins guiding you…
It’ll be easier to spot how to find the perfect speech opener.
For more strategies to improve your public speaking skills, be sure to check out the Speaking Wizard.
In this ebook, you ‘ll learn more about:
- Managing speech anxiety.
- Creating the beginning, middle & end of a speech.
- And delivering your talk with the utmost confidence!