Public speaking is a task that is usually met with dread and panic. Even the most confident people may find the speaker’s podium a formidable place to be in.
Daunting as speeches may be at the onset, an effective public speaker needs only one weapon: a good speech. A coherent and well thought-out discourse can eliminate stage jitters, and make both your and your listeners’ time worth the while.
There are many different techniques on how to start a speech, probably enough to overwhelm the ordinary person. These can be simplified into two techniques that are straightforward and easy to remember:
1. Ask a Question
Questions are a surefire way to arrest the attention of the audience. They make them think and compel them to hold their breath for an answer. For the first ten seconds at least, you will be the only one in the room holding their focus.
Carefully choose the kind of questions to open with. Start with a “why” or a “how” to deliver a strong impact, since they simultaneously trigger a person’s natural curiosity, and enable them to think up possible answers based on what they already know.
One opening question would suffice so as not to overwhelm the listeners, unless of course that is your main intent – or you may want to begin asking a string of questions to set the stage for impact.
2. Tell A Story
Human beings are naturally attuned to stories. We tell stories every day. Stories involve the ideas, emotions, and the imagination. Hearing about an adventure or a personal journey stirs up a person’s interest, making it an effective way of engaging their undivided attention. The more personal the story you tell, the more it invites them in a way to eavesdrop on an event and relate to it on some level.
Of course, there is no right or wrong way to do public speaking; neither is there a formula for how to start a speech. Ultimately, it is up to you to pick which one can be the best fit for a particular topic, or what opening strategy you can be most comfortable with – which, at the end of the day, is what makes all the difference.