Attorney Elliott Abrams once said the following: “First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.” That’s a fairly impactful statement when you’re standing before the podium with all eyes on you. Certainly, there is not much time to engage! Let’s talk about how to get your speech started in a way that is relevant and will hold the attention of your audience.
1. USE HUMOR.
“Good morning. How are you? Hasn’t this event been great? I’ve been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I’m leaving.”
2. TRY STARTLING STATEMENTS, STATISTICS OR QUOTES.
“Sadly, today, more than 16,000 children will die in the world from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds.”
3. DO AN INTERESTING SELF-INTRODUCTION, PERSONAL ANECDOTE OR TESTIMONY. “Can I be honest? I feel really awkward standing up here and would feel a lot better if all of you would just smile and nod… like you already know I have something great to share.” OR “My name is John. I’m okay with that name because I’ve learned there are at least ten famous Johns that I have something in common with…1….”
4. ASK A QUESTION OR USE A “WHAT IF” SCENARIO. But make it the kind of question that draws your audience in to follow your thought process. “Imagine jumping out of a plane and realizing your parachute doesn’t work. What memories would flash through your mind? Now imagine it suddenly opens. Would your opinion of anyone change?”
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOUND EFFECTS OR PHYSICAL DEMONSTRATIONS. Soundbible.com has a ton of speech sounds available for use in your presentations. The sounds vary from an evil droid threatening to “destroy you” to a clinking teaspoon. The site also offers blog posts containing 100 Royalty Free Funny Sounds, Nature Sounds and War Sounds. Just be sure you have something to say that goes along with the sounds.
We make impressions, not by doing the expected, but by presenting something that gives our audience no other choice other than to pay attention. Start thinking about how to begin your speech uniquely today!