5 inviting ways to start a speech

You had better hook your audience in the first minute or else you’ll probably lose them altogether. Here are proven ways to grab their attention.

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They walk to the front of the room, say good morning/afternoon/evening, thank the audience for coming, and express their delight to be there. Then they turn around and flip to their first slide, a bulleted agenda of what they plan to discuss during their presentation.

What a bore.

The opening minutes of a presentation are often the most important. According to Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of “The Definitive Book of Body Language,” the audience forms 60 to 80 percent of its impression of a speaker within the first four minutes.

Opening No. 1: The startling statistic

Opening with a startling statistic is a terrific way to grab the audience’s attention from your first word. To be effective, the statistic should be related directly to the main purpose of your talk. “Statistic” doesn’t mean the same as “data.” If you’re giving the audience a number, you should set it within a broader context to help infuse it with greater meaning.

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