Great Openings

Great Openings

What is the first thing you should do when you start to speak?

Well, if you have not been introduced, you will need to welcome everyone and introduce yourself.

However, most times you are introduced, so do not insult your introducer and your audience by doing it all over again.

No, you do not tell them what you are going to talk about. That’s a boring way to start.

What you need is: a sizzling start, a hook, an engaging statement.

What makes a great start?

There are loads of ways. Here are some.

Start with a quote. Quotes are usually clever, short, sharp and famous. Start with the quote and then the author. It will have more impact that way. Here is a great quote: “From little things/Big things grow.” So said Australia’s beloved singer Paul Kelly….”

Start with a rhetorical question or two. As soon as you ask questions, you audience should start to think about whether the question applies to them.  “Why did you have a good breakfast today? Did it contain fibre?” Whether they did or did not have a healthy breakfast, most people will recall what they did have (or not have) for breakfast and they will be hooked.

Start with a stat. Most stats are quite surprising or shocking and the audience is likely to sit up and listen to what’s next. I like the site If the World were a Global Village because it reduces the world to 100 people and that makes for great stats. For example, of the 100 people, 57 would be Chinese.  Here is a stat opening: Did you know that only 2% of the world’s water is drinkable?

Most people would be shocked, but it’s because of all the water in the sea.

Start with a story. Every culture every age, every person loves a story. Make sure you include plenty of adjectives and powerful verbs.

Start with alliteration. This is when the speaker repeats the same letter at the start of each word.  “Boys bat better” is more interesting than “Boys bat well.” And the audience is likely to sit up and listen

Start with a metaphor. Again, anything that helps your audience picture what you have said is good. Here is an example: The river of life sometimes flows swiftly and sometimes meanders.” Your listeners will start to imagine a river rushing and then moving slowly. They will think that what comes next will also be interesting.

Start with onomatopoeia. That’s sound effects. It’s not a matter of clapping and then saying something irrelevant like, “Now I have your attention.” That’s silly and goes down badly. It should be a relevant sound. I once heard a clever speech where the speaker clicked his fingers every second and then said, “A child dies somewhere in the world, every second.” He spoke for a minute and started clicking again and then said, While I have talked 60 children have died.”  You could have heard a pin drop. It was so powerful;

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