14 Sep 2017

Good ways to start a speech

Like it or not, you will be faced with a situations where you'll have to deliver a speech or a talk. Some of us might have to do this regularly as a part of our job or profession. This discussion is about figuring out good ways to start a speech and impress audience. As always, we'll invite ideas, tips and tricks from our fellow engineers and I'll set the ball rolling. I've been constantly improving in this area and continue to learn. So there's a lot of scope for me to learn as well.

First for all, 'Not good ways to start a speech':

I've seen tens and thousands of speakers put all their introduction on the first slide - including their photo, designation, topic, email ID et al. Then they'd begin their speech by looking at the same slide and reading everything. That is the moment, I believe, the speaker has lost interest of 90% of your audience. Think about it - you already have put everything on the slide and people definitely can read it all. Why repeat everything?

Also, if a formal introduction has already been made, you should NOT repeat the same. I'd also suggest not pointing out regularly at the slide because that makes people think the slide is more important than what you've to say. They'd then start ignoring you and just wait for the slides. So don't do that!

good-ways-to-start-a-speech

Don't keep your hands in your pocket! A number of times, I've seen speakers keep both their hands in their pocket to look 'cool'. That's a strict NO for any speaker who wants audience to listen to them.

Possible 'Good' ways to start a speech or a talk:

The key is to capture audience attention so that you can deliver your content to them while they're actually listening to you. The first thing to do this is to actually 'enjoying' the entire experience. If you are NOT enjoying speaking to your audience and actually wanting to share your knowledge with them; it will show up on your face, through your words and most importantly through your body gestures.

How do you go about capturing audience attention? Well, the proven way to do this is to start by something that requires audience involvement. It could be a question, a quote, a promise or something that invokes immediate attention from the audience. Your questions may begin by asking users to imagine something or promising something by the end of the talk or speech. It could be a simple 'what, why, where, who, when" (aka 5W) question that starts the imagination process in every individual. Think about it - if the speaker asked you a question wouldn't your brain immediately start looking for answers? That's how we are programmed!

Starting with a joke or a funny incident could also capture audience attention; but do this very cautiously. You have to be naturally funny to make use of this strategy to start your speech or talk.

In a very formal setup:

If you are delivering a speech in a very formal setup where there are dignitaries or other important people on the stage; you'll have to address them first and maybe thank organizers for the opportunity. If this is the situation, please keep it very small; not more than 5-10 seconds and then go back to capturing audience attention.

Making use of video or a power image as the first slide:

Photos and videos are naturally attention grabbing and if you can make use of these; do not hesitate. At one occasion, my fellow speaker made a wonderful use of a video that was very relevant to the topic he was to speak on and managed to get attention of almost every person in the hall. He then started by asking few questions about the video and that was a superb strategy to get everyone listen to him. By showing a video, he not only informed people that his talk is going to be interesting and he did deliver a good talk.

I'm sharing a relevant video below for you to see and comment on. This video is by Conor Neill and he talks effective ways to start a speech. It's got close to 3 million views at the time of posting -



If you have any tips, tricks that you've found very effective in starting a speech or talk; please do share with us. Let's benefit all our friends.
Vikram S Bargah

Vikram S Bargah

Branch Unspecified
19 Sep 2017
  • Audience participation is only possible with Interaction/communication with them.
  • Images/gif's/ short videos are always more eye-catching & self explanatory than alphabets. hence it should be the preferred.
  • I think presentation should have page numbers in the format ' 1 of 5' so that audience have an idea about expected time of completion.
19 Sep 2017
Vikram S Bargah
Images/gif's/ short videos are always more eye-catching
That indeed is a great point and when used appropriately, it can even create a very lasting impression. GIFs can be used if you wish you highlight a point or add humor.

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