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Speech Writing

Introduction Speech

Barbara P

Introduction Speech- Tips & Examples

10 min read

introduction speech

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Introduction speeches are all around us. Whenever we meet a new group of people in formal settings, we have to introduce ourselves. That’s what an introduction speech is all about.

When you're facing a formal audience, your ability to deliver a compelling introductory speech can make a lot of difference. With the correct approach, you can build credibility and connections.

In this blog, we'll take you through the steps to craft an impactful introduction speech. You’ll also get examples and valuable tips to ensure you leave a lasting impression.

So, let's dive in!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is an Introduction Speech? 
  • 2. How to Write an Introduction Speech?
  • 3. Introduction Speech Outline
  • 4. Introduction Speech Example
  • 5. Introduction Speech Ideas
  • 6. 7 Tips for Delivering the Best Introduction Speech

What is an Introduction Speech? 

An introduction speech, or introductory address, is a brief presentation at the beginning of an event or public speaking engagement. Its primary purpose is to establish a connection with the audience and to introduce yourself or the main speaker.

This type of speech is commonly used in a variety of situations, including:

  • Public Speaking: When you step onto a stage to address a large crowd, you start with an introduction to establish your presence and engage the audience.
  • Networking Events: When meeting new people in professional or social settings, an effective introduction speech can help you make a memorable first impression.
  • Formal Gatherings: From weddings to conferences, introductions set the tone for the event and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

In other words, an introduction speech is simply a way to introduce yourself to a crowd of people. 

How to Write an Introduction Speech?

Before you can just go and deliver your speech, you need to prepare for it. Writing a speech helps you organize your ideas and prepare your speech effectively. 

Here is how to introduce yourself in a speech.

  • Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is crucial. Consider their interests, backgrounds, and expectations to tailor your introduction accordingly.

For instance, the audience members could be your colleagues, new classmates, or various guests depending on the occasion. Understanding your audience will help you decide what they are expecting from you as a speaker.

  • Opening the Speech with a Hook

The best speech introduction starts with a hook or opening line that grabs your audience's attention. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a thought-provoking question about yourself or the occasion.

  • Introduce Yourself

Introduce yourself to the audience. State your name, occupation, or other details relevant to the occasion. You should have mentioned the reason for your speech clearly. It will build your credibility and give the readers reasons to stay with you and read your speech.

  • Keep It Concise

So how long is an introduction speech?

Introduction speeches should be brief and to the point. Aim for around 1-2 minutes in most cases. Avoid overloading the introduction with excessive details.

  • Highlight Key Points

Mention the most important information that establishes the speaker's credibility or your own qualifications. Write down any relevant achievements, expertise, or credentials to include in your speech. Encourage the audience to connect with you using relatable anecdotes or common interests.

  • Rehearse and Edit

Practice your introduction speech to ensure it flows smoothly and stays within the time frame. Edit out any unnecessary information, ensuring it's concise and impactful.

  • Tailor for the Occasion

Adjust the tone and content of your introduction speech to match the formality and purpose of the event. What works for a business conference may not be suitable for a casual gathering.

Introduction Speech Outline

To assist you in creating a structured and effective introduction speech, here's a simple speech format that you can follow:


Here is an example outline for a self-introduction speech.

Outline for Self-Introduction Speech

Introduction Speech Example

So if you are wondering what to say in an introduction speech we have you covered! We have compiled introduction speech examples to help you understand how to put your ideas into practice for different scenarios. 

Introduction Speech Writing Sample

Short Introduction Speech Sample

Self Introduction Speech for College Students

Introduction Speech about Yourself

Student Presentation Introduction Speech Script

Teacher Introduction Speech

New Employee Self Introduction Speech

Introduction Speech for Chief Guest

Moreover, here is a video example of a self-introduction speech. Watch it to understand how you should deliver your speech:

Want to read examples for other kinds of speeches? Find the best speeches at our blog about speech examples !

What Are Some Famous Introduction Speeches?

Here are the best introduction speeches for students to get inspired:

  • Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (2014) : Malala's speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize introduced her advocacy for girls' education and youth empowerment globally.
  • Elon Musk's Presentation on SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System (2016) : Elon Musk introduced SpaceX's ambitious plans for interplanetary travel, outlining a vision for the future of space exploration.
  • Michelle Obama's Democratic National Convention Speech (2008) : Michelle Obama's speech introduced her as a potential First Lady, sharing personal stories and values that resonated with the audience.
  • J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech (2008) : Rowling's speech introduced themes of failure, imagination, and resilience, drawing from her personal journey as an author and philanthropist.

Introduction Speech Ideas

So now that you’ve understood what an introduction speech is, you may want to write one of your own. So what should you talk about?

The following are some sample introduction speech topics and ideas that can provide an engaging start to a presentation, meeting, or social gathering. 

  • Personal Story: Share a brief personal story or experience that has shaped you.
  • Professional Background: Highlight your career achievements and expertise.
  • Hobby or Passion: Discuss a hobby or passion you're enthusiastic about.
  • Volunteer Work: Talk about your involvement in volunteer work or community service.
  • Travel Adventures: Share anecdotes from your travel adventures.
  • Books or Literature: Provide an introduction related to a favorite book, author, or literary work.
  • Achievements and Milestones: Highlight significant achievements and milestones in your life or career.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore your cultural heritage and its influence on your identity.
  • Social or Environmental Cause: Discuss your dedication to a particular social or environmental cause.
  • Future Aspirations: Share your future goals and aspirations.

You can deliver engaging speeches on all kinds of topics. Here is a list of entertaining speech topics to get inspiration.

7 Tips for Delivering the Best Introduction Speech

Now that you know how to write an effective introduction speech, let's focus on the delivery. The way you present your introduction is just as important as the content itself. Here are some valuable tips to ensure you deliver a better introduction speech:

Tip# 1: Maintain Eye Contact

Make eye contact with the audience to establish a connection. This shows confidence and engages your listeners.

Tip# 2: Use Appropriate Body Language 

Your body language should convey confidence and warmth. Stand or sit up straight, use open gestures, and avoid fidgeting.

Tip# 3: Mind Your Pace

Speak at a moderate pace, avoiding rapid speech. A well-paced speech is easier to follow and more engaging.

Tip# 4: Avoid Filler Words

Minimize the use of filler words such as "um," "uh," and "like." They can be distracting and detract from your message.

Tip# 5: Be Enthusiastic

Convey enthusiasm about the topic or the speaker. Your energy can be contagious and inspire the audience's interest.

Tip# 6: Practice, Practice, Practice

Rehearse your speech multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself or seek feedback from others.

Tip# 7: Be Mindful of Time

Stay within the allocated time for your introduction. Going too long can make your speech too boring for the audience.

Mistakes to Avoid in an Introduction Speech

When crafting and delivering an introduction speech, it's important to avoid common pitfalls that can reduce its impact. Here are some mistakes to watch out for:

  • Rambling On: Avoid making the introduction too long. Keep it short and sweet to set the stage without stealing the spotlight.
  • Lack of Preparation: Not preparing enough can lead to awkward pauses or losing your train of thought. Practice your speech to feel more confident.
  • Using Jargon or Complex Language: Steer clear of technical jargon or complicated language that might confuse the audience. Keep it simple and clear.
  • Being Too Generic: A bland introduction can set a dull tone. Make your speech specific to the event and the speaker to keep it engaging.
  • Using Inappropriate Humor: Be careful with humor. Avoid jokes that could offend or alienate the audience.
  • Overloading with Background Information: Providing too much background information can overwhelm the audience. Offer just enough to give context without bogging down the introduction.

To Conclude,

An introduction speech is more than just a formality. It's an opportunity to engage, inspire, and connect with your audience in a meaningful way. 

With the help of this blog, you're well-equipped to shine in various contexts. So, step onto that stage, speak confidently, and captivate your audience from the very first word.

Moreover, you’re not alone in your journey to becoming a confident introducer. If you ever need assistance in preparing your speech, let the experts help you out.

MyPerfectWords.com offers a custom essay service with experienced professionals who can craft tailored introductions, ensuring your speech makes a lasting impact.

Don't hesitate; hire our professional speech writing service to deliver top-quality speeches at your deadline!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a speech introduction be.

FAQ Icon

A speech introduction should be concise, typically lasting about 1 to 2 minutes. It should set the stage, capture the audience's attention, and provide a clear direction for the rest of the speech.

What Is the Best Speech Introduction Greeting?

The best greeting for a speech introduction depends on the formality of the event. Some examples include:

  • Formal: "Good morning/afternoon/evening, distinguished guests."
  • Semi-formal: "Hello everyone, thank you for being here today."
  • Informal: "Hi everyone, thanks for coming."

What Word to Start a Speech?

Starting a speech with an engaging word or phrase can capture the audience's attention. Here are a few speech starting lines:

  • "Imagine..." to prompt the audience to visualize something.
  • "Today..." to ground the speech in the present moment.
  • "Have you ever..." to ask a thought-provoking question.
  • "In our lives..." to make a personal connection.
  • "Picture this..." to create a vivid mental image.

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Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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15 Powerful Speech Opening Lines (And How to Create Your Own)

Hrideep barot.

  • Public Speaking , Speech Writing

powerful speech opening

Powerful speech opening lines set the tone and mood of your speech. It’s what grips the audience to want to know more about the rest of your talk.

The first few seconds are critical. It’s when you have maximum attention of the audience. And you must capitalize on that!

Instead of starting off with something plain and obvious such as a ‘Thank you’ or ‘Good Morning’, there’s so much more you can do for a powerful speech opening (here’s a great article we wrote a while ago on how you should NOT start your speech ).

To help you with this, I’ve compiled some of my favourite openings from various speakers. These speakers have gone on to deliver TED talks , win international Toastmaster competitions or are just noteworthy people who have mastered the art of communication.

After each speaker’s opening line, I have added how you can include their style of opening into your own speech. Understanding how these great speakers do it will certainly give you an idea to create your own speech opening line which will grip the audience from the outset!

Alright! Let’s dive into the 15 powerful speech openings…

Note: Want to take your communications skills to the next level? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our expert communication coaches. We’ll look under the hood of your hurdles and pick two to three growth opportunities so you can speak with impact!

1. Ric Elias

Opening: “Imagine a big explosion as you climb through 3,000 ft. Imagine a plane full of smoke. Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack. It sounds scary. Well I had a unique seat that day. I was sitting in 1D.”

How to use the power of imagination to open your speech?

Putting your audience in a state of imagination can work extremely well to captivate them for the remainder of your talk.

It really helps to bring your audience in a certain mood that preps them for what’s about to come next. Speakers have used this with high effectiveness by transporting their audience into an imaginary land to help prove their point.

When Ric Elias opened his speech, the detail he used (3000 ft, sound of the engine going clack-clack-clack) made me feel that I too was in the plane. He was trying to make the audience experience what he was feeling – and, at least in my opinion, he did.

When using the imagination opening for speeches, the key is – detail. While we want the audience to wander into imagination, we want them to wander off to the image that we want to create for them. So, detail out your scenario if you’re going to use this technique.

Make your audience feel like they too are in the same circumstance as you were when you were in that particular situation.

2. Barack Obama

Opening: “You can’t say it, but you know it’s true.”

3. Seth MacFarlane

Opening: “There’s nowhere I would rather be on a day like this than around all this electoral equipment.” (It was raining)

How to use humour to open your speech?

When you use humour in a manner that suits your personality, it can set you up for a great speech. Why? Because getting a laugh in the first 30 seconds or so is a great way to quickly get the audience to like you.

And when they like you, they are much more likely to listen to and believe in your ideas.

Obama effortlessly uses his opening line to entice laughter among the audience. He brilliantly used the setting (the context of Trump becoming President) and said a line that completely matched his style of speaking.

Saying a joke without really saying a joke and getting people to laugh requires you to be completely comfortable in your own skin. And that’s not easy for many people (me being one of them).

If the joke doesn’t land as expected, it could lead to a rocky start.

Keep in mind the following when attempting to deliver a funny introduction:

  • Know your audience: Make sure your audience gets the context of the joke (if it’s an inside joke among the members you’re speaking to, that’s even better!). You can read this article we wrote where we give you tips on how you can actually get to know your audience better to ensure maximum impact with your speech openings
  • The joke should suit your natural personality. Don’t make it look forced or it won’t elicit the desired response
  • Test the opening out on a few people who match your real audience. Analyze their response and tweak the joke accordingly if necessary
  • Starting your speech with humour means your setting the tone of your speech. It would make sense to have a few more jokes sprinkled around the rest of the speech as well as the audience might be expecting the same from you

4. Mohammed Qahtani

Opening: Puts a cigarette on his lips, lights a lighter, stops just before lighting the cigarette. Looks at audience, “What?”

5. Darren Tay

Opening: Puts a white pair of briefs over his pants.

How to use props to begin your speech?

The reason props work so well in a talk is because in most cases the audience is not expecting anything more than just talking. So when a speaker pulls out an object that is unusual, everyone’s attention goes right to it.

It makes you wonder why that prop is being used in this particular speech.

The key word here is unusual . To grip the audience’s attention at the beginning of the speech, the prop being used should be something that the audience would never expect. Otherwise, it just becomes something that is common. And common = boring!

What Mohammed Qahtani and Darren Tay did superbly well in their talks was that they used props that nobody expected them to.

By pulling out a cigarette and lighter or a white pair of underwear, the audience can’t help but be gripped by what the speaker is about to do next. And that makes for a powerful speech opening.

6. Simon Sinek

Opening: “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?”

7. Julian Treasure

Opening: “The human voice. It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world. Probably the only one that can start a war or say “I love you.” And yet many people have the experience that when they speak people don’t listen to them. Why is that? How can we speak powerfully to make change in the world?”

How to use questions to open a speech?

I use this method often. Starting off with a question is the simplest way to start your speech in a manner that immediately engages the audience.

But we should keep our questions compelling as opposed to something that is fairly obvious.

I’ve heard many speakers start their speeches with questions like “How many of us want to be successful?”

No one is going to say ‘no’ to that and frankly, I just feel silly raising my hand at such questions.

Simon Sinek and Jullian Treasure used questions in a manner that really made the audience think and make them curious to find out what the answer to that question is.

What Jullian Treasure did even better was the use of a few statements which built up to his question. This made the question even more compelling and set the theme for what the rest of his talk would be about.

So think of what question you can ask in your speech that will:

  • Set the theme for the remainder of your speech
  • Not be something that is fairly obvious
  • Be compelling enough so that the audience will actually want to know what the answer to that question will be

8. Aaron Beverley

Opening: Long pause (after an absurdly long introduction of a 57-word speech title). “Be honest. You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”

How to use silence for speech openings?

The reason this speech opening stands out is because of the fact that the title itself is 57 words long. The audience was already hilariously intrigued by what was going to come next.

But what’s so gripping here is the way Aaron holds the crowd’s suspense by…doing nothing. For about 10 to 12 seconds he did nothing but stand and look at the audience. Everyone quietened down. He then broke this silence by a humorous remark that brought the audience laughing down again.

When going on to open your speech, besides focusing on building a killer opening sentence, how about just being silent?

It’s important to keep in mind that the point of having a strong opening is so that the audience’s attention is all on you and are intrigued enough to want to listen to the rest of your speech.

Silence is a great way to do that. When you get on the stage, just pause for a few seconds (about 3 to 5 seconds) and just look at the crowd. Let the audience and yourself settle in to the fact that the spotlight is now on you.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about starting the speech off with a pure pause that just makes the beginning so much more powerful. It adds credibility to you as a speaker as well, making you look more comfortable and confident on stage. 

If you want to know more about the power of pausing in public speaking , check out this post we wrote. It will give you a deeper insight into the importance of pausing and how you can harness it for your own speeches. You can also check out this video to know more about Pausing for Public Speaking:

9. Dan Pink

Opening: “I need to make a confession at the outset here. Little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret. Something that I’m not particularly proud of. Something that in many ways I wish no one would ever know but that here I feel kind of obliged to reveal.”

10. Kelly McGonigal

Opening: “I have a confession to make. But first I want you to make a little confession to me.”

How to use a build-up to open your speech?

When there are so many amazing ways to start a speech and grip an audience from the outset, why would you ever choose to begin your speech with a ‘Good morning?’.

That’s what I love about build-ups. They set the mood for something awesome that’s about to come in that the audience will feel like they just have to know about.

Instead of starting a speech as it is, see if you can add some build-up to your beginning itself. For instance, in Kelly McGonigal’s speech, she could have started off with the question of stress itself (which she eventually moves on to in her speech). It’s not a bad way to start the speech.

But by adding the statement of “I have a confession to make” and then not revealing the confession for a little bit, the audience is gripped to know what she’s about to do next and find out what indeed is her confession.

11. Tim Urban

Opening: “So in college, I was a government major. Which means that I had to write a lot of papers. Now when a normal student writes a paper, they might spread the work out a little like this.”

12. Scott Dinsmore

Opening: “8 years ago, I got the worst career advice of my life.”

How to use storytelling as a speech opening?

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” Steve Jobs

Storytelling is the foundation of good speeches. Starting your speech with a story is a great way to grip the audience’s attention. It makes them yearn to want to know how the rest of the story is going to pan out.

Tim Urban starts off his speech with a story dating back to his college days. His use of slides is masterful and something we all can learn from. But while his story sounds simple, it does the job of intriguing the audience to want to know more.

As soon as I heard the opening lines, I thought to myself “If normal students write their paper in a certain manner, how does Tim write his papers?”

Combine such a simple yet intriguing opening with comedic slides, and you’ve got yourself a pretty gripping speech.

Scott Dismore’s statement has a similar impact. However, just a side note, Scott Dismore actually started his speech with “Wow, what an honour.”

I would advise to not start your talk with something such as that. It’s way too common and does not do the job an opening must, which is to grip your audience and set the tone for what’s coming.

13. Larry Smith

Opening: “I want to discuss with you this afternoon why you’re going to fail to have a great career.”

14. Jane McGonigal

Opening: “You will live 7.5 minutes longer than you would have otherwise, just because you watched this talk.”

How to use provocative statements to start your speech?

Making a provocative statement creates a keen desire among the audience to want to know more about what you have to say. It immediately brings everyone into attention.

Larry Smith did just that by making his opening statement surprising, lightly humorous, and above all – fearful. These elements lead to an opening statement which creates so much curiosity among the audience that they need to know how your speech pans out.

This one time, I remember seeing a speaker start a speech with, “Last week, my best friend committed suicide.” The entire crowd was gripped. Everyone could feel the tension in the room.

They were just waiting for the speaker to continue to know where this speech will go.

That’s what a hard-hitting statement does, it intrigues your audience so much that they can’t wait to hear more! Just a tip, if you do start off with a provocative, hard-hitting statement, make sure you pause for a moment after saying it.

Silence after an impactful statement will allow your message to really sink in with the audience.

Related article: 5 Ways to Grab Your Audience’s Attention When You’re Losing it!

15. Ramona J Smith

Opening: In a boxing stance, “Life would sometimes feel like a fight. The punches, jabs and hooks will come in the form of challenges, obstacles and failures. Yet if you stay in the ring and learn from those past fights, at the end of each round, you’ll be still standing.”

How to use your full body to grip the audience at the beginning of your speech?

In a talk, the audience is expecting you to do just that – talk. But when you enter the stage and start putting your full body into use in a way that the audience does not expect, it grabs their attention.

Body language is critical when it comes to public speaking. Hand gestures, stage movement, facial expressions are all things that need to be paid attention to while you’re speaking on stage. But that’s not I’m talking about here.

Here, I’m referring to a unique use of the body that grips the audience, like how Ramona did. By using her body to get into a boxing stance, imitating punches, jabs and hooks with her arms while talking – that’s what got the audience’s attention.

The reason I say this is so powerful is because if you take Ramona’s speech and remove the body usage from her opening, the entire magic of the opening falls flat.

While the content is definitely strong, without those movements, she would not have captured the audience’s attention as beautifully as she did with the use of her body.

So if you have a speech opening that seems slightly dull, see if you can add some body movement to it.

If your speech starts with a story of someone running, actually act out the running. If your speech starts with a story of someone reading, actually act out the reading.

It will make your speech opening that much more impactful.

Related article: 5 Body Language Tips to Command the Stage

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Final Words

So there it is! 15 speech openings from some of my favourite speeches. Hopefully, these will act as a guide for you to create your own opening which is super impactful and sets you off on the path to becoming a powerful public speaker!

But remember, while a speech opening is super important, it’s just part of an overall structure.

If you’re serious about not just creating a great speech opening but to improve your public speaking at an overall level, I would highly recommend you to check out this course: Acumen Presents: Chris Anderson on Public Speaking on Udemy. Not only does it have specific lectures on starting and ending a speech, but it also offers an in-depth guide into all the nuances of public speaking. 

Being the founder of TED Talks, Chris Anderson provides numerous examples of the best TED speakers to give us a very practical way of overcoming stage fear and delivering a speech that people will remember. His course has helped me personally and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn public speaking. 

No one is ever “done” learning public speaking. It’s a continuous process and you can always get better. Keep learning, keep conquering and keep being awesome!

Lastly, if you want to know how you should NOT open your speech, we’ve got a video for you:

Hrideep Barot

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Your Speech's Introduction: How to Make It Powerful

Your Speech's Introduction: How to Make It Powerful

There's a moment of high drama when you give a speech or presentation—and it occurs before you've even said a word. It's the first few seconds when the "curtain" goes up.

In other words, it's all about anticipation. Your audience at that instant is paying maximum attention . . . they're primed for whatever they're about to experience. Often, these audience members will have no idea of your speaking ability. Oh, they may know they're interested in the topic. But they are almost surely filled with hope that the next half-hour or hour will be interesting and exciting.

Great speakers understand how to engage and move audiences at moments like this. You should too! Learn how in my Free Guide , "Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking."

What happens in the next 60 seconds will help determine whether your speech is successful or not. So here are four key elements you should always  include in your speech's introduction. If you want listeners to pay attention, become intrigued, and tell themselves they're in good company, do these four things, in the following order:

How to get an audience to pay attention in public speaking.

1) Grab 'Em from the Moment You Begin Speaking

Consider how most presenters begin. Nearly always, it's along the lines of, "Good afternoon. It's so nice to see you all. Today I'll be talking about  . ." followed by a slide with the word "Agenda" and 5 bullet points. If we can't hear you screaming as an audience member, it's probably only because you're too polite to be doing it in public. 

These first few seconds are such valuable real estate, it's shocking that speakers don't spend any time working up an inviting treatment. In fact, it's not overstating things to say that if you want to succeed as a speaker, you have to know how to start a speech . There are rhetorical devices ready and waiting for you to use to kick off in a much more interesting way. Here for instance are 12 foolproof ways to open a speech . 

It's not good enough to take three or four minutes to settle into your groove. Remember that moment of drama, and how everyone is anticipating what you're about to reveal. You need to burn rubber as soon as your tires hit the road, not spin them unnecessarily in the gravel. It's infinitely easier to keep  an audience with you if you engage them from the start.

This is the time your natural talent is on display! To build credibility and earn trust, download my  Free e-book , "12 Easy Ways to Achieve Presence and Charisma." 

How to write an introduction in a speech or presentation.

2) Reveal Your Topic (and Make It Sound Interesting)

At this point, without going any further into your speech, reveal your topic.

You may be thinking, "Well, yeah, of course!" Yet haven't you sat through speeches where, five minutes in, you're saying to yourself, "What's the  topic  here, anyway?" It one of the ways we as speakers may take things for granted, believing that the subject matter is perfectly obvious. (The phrase 'perfectly obvious' should not be part of your public speaking thought process!)

Even if the topic of your speech is emblazoned on posters and flyers beforehand, you lose nothing by reminding the audience about it in your intro. Besides, this is an opportunity to make it sound interesting.  You could say, "My topic today is migrating birds of the Northeast." OR you could offer this instead: "Today, you'll be meeting some of the most eccentric characters you could ever run into . . . who just happen to be sitting outside your window right now." 

Which talk sounds more interesting?

Just be sure to use language that helps rather than hurts your cause. Learn more in my Free White Paper , "25 Words or Phrases to Avoid in Speeches and Presentations."

How to improve your listening skills in business communication.

3) Tell Them Why They Need to Listen

Here's the most neglected family member of speech introductions—the relative too many speakers kept hidden away in the attic, never to see the light of day. It's the moment you tell everyone why your topic is something they really need to pay attention to.

This is a huge part of engaging audiences and getting them to be present. And as I say, many presenters never even give it a thought. But consider this: every member of your audience is in a "What's-in-it-for-me" frame of mind every time they listen to a speech. They're wondering if this is going to be worth their presence and the effort it took to get here (and the time it's taking them away from their work.) 

If you answer those questions in a way that relates to their lives and makes the payoff to them clear, they will pay attention. "I want to talk about this with you today, because it's going to make your life much easier," is a great way, for instance, to address a new procedure that everyone in the department would otherwise be bored to death to hear about. So tell them specifically what's in it for them. Believe me, their ears will perk up. 

How to engage a public speaking audience.

4) Give Them a Roadmap of Your Journey Together

So let's review. You've hooked your listeners' attention, made your topic sound intriguing, and told them how it's going to improve their lives. You're ready for the final part of your introduction: giving them a roadmap of where you'll be going together.

Call it a blueprint if you like that metaphor. (I prefer roadmap because it presupposes that you will be providing signposts along the way.) Partly, this is a way to make your subject manageable. Whatever that subject is, it's too big to talk about in its entirety. So you have to clue listeners in to the sub-topic areas you'll be addressing in this speech. It may sound something like this:

"I'll be talking about three specific elements of [reaching this goal, gaining this proficiency, understanding what you're looking at, etc.]. First, we'll examine [your first main point]. Once we have that information, we'll be able to [discuss your second item]. Finally, we'll add the third ingredient which will [give us a functioning model, repair the breach, head off the problem in the future . . . whatever the particulars are in your talk]." To me, this is already sounding more interesting than: "Here are the five parts of today's agenda for this speech."

As the great salesman Dale Carnegie once advised (and as I wrote about here ): "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said." To translate that into today's public speaking: Entice them with the journey you'll be going on together, take them there; then remind them of what an enlightening trip it's been.

You should follow me on Twitter  here . 

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Gary Genard  is an actor, author, and expert in theater-based public speaking training. His company, Boston-based  The Genard Method  offers in-person and online training to help executives and teams become extraordinary communicators. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as  One of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals . He is the author of  How to Give a Speech . His second book,  Fearless Speaking ,  was recently named as " One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time ."  Contact Gary here .

Tags: public speaking training , presentation skills , public speaking , public speaking tips , how to start a speech , video conferencing , sales training , speech introduction , presence , leadership , keynote speaker , online meetings , how to write a speech , motivational speaker , public speaker , leadership training , audiences , keynote speaker training , how to start a presentation , motivational speaker training , sales , online coaching , Zoom , online classes , online learning , online training , speaking tips , zoom meetings , virtual meetings , videoconferencing , video conferences , introduction , how to write an introduction

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8 Opening a Speech: Get Their Attention from the Start!

Man holding a prop while talking to an audience

Get the audience’s attention, or the rest of your speech is a waste. I mean it!  Most people spend the majority of their speech preparation time working on the body of their speech and then they tack on an opening and a closing last minute.

The opening and closing deserve the most attention. Why?  If you don’t get the audience’s attention and get them to pay attention to you instead of…  the thoughts in their heads, their grocery lists, their neighbors, their social media…then all the rest of your brilliant content is wasted because they will never hear it. Lisa Marshall of Toastmasters International stresses the opening words are so important that “I spend 10 times more time developing and practicing the opener than any other part of the speech.”

Look at the description of Person A and Person B and tell me which person you like more.

Person A envious, stubborn, critical, impulsive, industrious, and intelligent

Person B intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical, stubborn, and envious

If you are like most people, you have a preference for Person B.  This illustrates a study by Solomon Ashe. He had subjects rate these two people using a string of descriptive words. Now look back at the descriptions. Look closely and you will notice they are the same words in a different order. Most people put the most emphasis on the first three words in determining how they will create the person. Like Asche’s subjects, your audience will be evaluating those first three words. Let’s bring it back around to speechmaking. The first sentence out of your mouth is crucial and the first three words are especially important.

I am sure you are not surprised to know that people form opinions quickly. To prove this, researchers showed subjects either a 20-minute clip of a job applicant or a 20-30 second clip of a job applicant. They were asked to rate the person on likeability and self-assurance. People were able to form an opinion in under thirty seconds. Not only that but they were able to form the same opinions from a 30-second clip as a 20-minute exposure.

The Battle for Attention

Remember that every piece of content in our modern era is part of an attention war. It’s fighting against thousands of other claims on people’s time and energy. This is true even when you’re standing on a stage in front of a seated audience. They have deadly distracters in their pockets called smartphones, which they can use to summon to their eyes a thousand outside alternatives. Once emails and texts make their claim, your talk may be doomed. And then there’s that lurking demon of modern life, fatigue. All these are lethal enemies. You never want to provide someone with an excuse to zone out. You have to be a savvy general directing this war’s outcome. Starting strong is one of your most important weapons. Chris Anderson, TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking.

“People don’t pay attention to boring things,” according to John Medina, author of Brain Rules, “You’ve got 30 seconds before they start asking the question, ‘Am I going to pay attention to you or not?'” It is important to get your audience’s attention right away. In this chapter, I will share with you several ways to win the war for attention and to start your speech right. I will show you the basic opening and closing structure of speeches and give you many examples of what that looks like.  A speech, like an airplane, needs a good take-off and a good landing. Now it’s time to prepare to have a strong take-off and learn everything that goes into a speech introduction. This chapter is full of examples from a variety of talks. I included quotes from those introductions, but I also included links to each of those talks hoping you will be interested enough to want to listen.

Ways to Start a Speech

Chris Anderson likens this to battle. “First there is the 10-second war: can you do something in your first moments on stage to ensure people’s eager attention while you set up your talk topic? Second is the 1-minute war: can you then use that first minute to ensure that they’re committed to coming on the full talk journey with you?”

When thinking about your speech, spend a lot of time thinking about how to win the battle for their attention. Your introduction should make your audience want to put down their phones and listen. Your introduction should be so compelling they stop their wandering minds and turn their thoughts to you and you alone. Your introduction should start with three strong words where they form a strong opinion of you and your speech.  Let me share how to accomplish this. 

Capturing the audience through the story is one of the most powerful ways to start a speech. A story engages the brain in powerful ways and causes the audience’s brains to sync with the speakers. A well-told story will allow the audience to “see” things in their mind’s eye and to join the speaker’s emotions.

Watch this clip by Ric Elias for how he begins his speech with a powerful story. Particularly notice his first four words, “Imagine a big explosion.” 

Imagine a big explosion as you climb through 3,000 ft.   Imagine a plane full of smoke.   Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack.   It sounds scary.   Well, I had a unique seat that day. I was sitting in 1D. I was the only one who could talk to the flight attendants. So I looked at them right away, and they said, “No problem. We probably hit some birds.” The pilot had already turned the plane around, and we weren’t that far. You could see Manhattan. Two minutes later, three things happened at the same time.

Ric Elias, Three Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed. 

Consider these other examples and notice how the speaker uses a story.

More powerful introductions using story:

I love you, I believe in you and it’s going to be OK. The three things that I needed to hear three years ago when I felt more abandoned than ever. I remember that day as if it happen this morning. It was Sunday and I had just woken up early at a brisk 12:30 in the afternoon. Ryan Brooks, Honesty, courage, and the importance of brushing your teeth.  When I was nine years old I went off to summer camp for the first time. And my mother packed me a suitcase full of books, which to me seemed like a perfectly natural thing to do. Because in my family, reading was the primary group activity. And this might sound antisocial to you, but for us, it was really just a different way of being social. You have the animal warmth of your family sitting right next to you, but you are also free to go roaming around the adventureland inside your own mind. And I had this idea that camp was going to be just like this, but better. Susan Cain. The Power of Introverts. I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who has been diagnosed with a brain disorder: schizophrenia. Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight. A few years ago, I got one of those spam emails. I’m not quite sure how, but it turned up in my inbox, and it was from a guy called Solomon Odonkoh.  James Veitch This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email. Eleven years ago, while giving birth to my first child, I hemorrhaged and was transfused with seven pints of blood. Four years later, I found out that I had been infected with the AIDS virus and had unknowingly passed it to my daughter, Ariel, through my breast milk, and my son, Jake, in utero. Elizabeth Glaser,  Address to the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Good stories immediately set the stage and introduce you to the place and to the people. Doing this helps your brain can form a structure where the story takes place. It helps you see the story unfold in your mind.  If you need help starting a story, Vanessa Van Edwards suggests these prompts:

  • Once upon a time.
  • I’m here for a reason, and it’s an interesting story.
  • The best thing that ever happened to me was.

There is an entire chapter on the Power of Story that can be found here.

Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood. – Mary Hirsch

  When Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane spoke at Harvard Commencemen t in the rain, he started with “There’s nowhere I would rather be on a day like this than around all this electrical equipment.” People laughed, people smiled, and the speech was off to a strong start. Humor works because it gives the audience a hit of the feel-good hormone dopamine. That is … if you are funny. If you decide to use humor, make sure you are funny. Test your humor on honest friends. In addition, the humor you use should fit your personality and your audience. Be warned, some groups would find humor inappropriate, do your research.

Watch this clip for how Tshering Tobgay begins his speech with humor. 

In case you are wondering, no, I’m not wearing a dress, and no, I’m not saying what I’m wearing underneath. (Laughter) This is a go. This is my national dress. This is how all men dress in Bhutan. That is how our women dress. Like our women, we men get to wear pretty bright colors, but unlike our women, we get to show off our legs. Our national dress is unique, but this is not the only thing that’s unique about my country. Our promise to remain carbon neutral is also unique, and this is what I’d like to speak about today, our promise to remain carbon neutral.

Tshering Tobgay, This Country Isn’t Just Carbon Neutral–Its Carbon Negative. 

More powerful introductions using humor

I didn’t rebel as a teenager.   I started late and was still going at it the summer I turned thirty. I just became an American citizen, I divorced my husband, I got a big tattoo of a bat on my arm, and I joined a New York City punk band. Danusia Trevino, Guilty I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret, something that I’m not particularly proud of.   Something that, in many ways, I wish no one would ever know, but that here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. In the late 1980s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school. Dan Pink, The Puzzle of Motivation.  It is really interesting to be a woman and to get to 45 and to not be married yet and to not have kids, especially when you have pushed out your fifth kid on television. Tracee Ellis Ross, 2017 Glamour Woman of the Year. I am not drunk …but the doctor who delivered me was.” (reference the shake she has due to a botched medical procedure at birth causing her cerebral palsey). Maysoon Zayid, I’ve Got 99 Prolbems and Cerebral Palsey is Not One of Them .

Salutation followed by humor

Oh boy, thank you so much, thank you so much.   Thank you, President Cowan, Mrs. President Cowen; distinguished guests, undistinguished guests, you know who you are, honored faculty and creepy Spanish teacher.   And thank you to all the graduating Class of 2009, I realize most of you are hungover and have splitting headaches and haven’t slept since Fat Tuesday, but you can’t graduate ’til I finish, so listen up. When I was asked to make the commencement speech, I immediately said yes.   Then I went to look up what commencement meant which would have been easy if I had a dictionary, but most of the books in our house are Portia’s, and they’re all written in Australian.   So I had to break the word down myself, to find out the meaning. Commencement: common, and cement, common cement.   You commonly see cement on sidewalks.   Sidewalks have cracks, and if you step on a crack, you break your mother’s back.   So there’s that.   But I’m honored that you’ve asked me here to speak at your common cement Ellen DeGenres, Commencement Speech at Tulane. Well, thank you. Thank you Mr. President, First Lady, King Abdullah of Jordan, Norm, distinguished guests. Please join me in praying that I don’t say something we’ll all regret. That was for the FCC. If you’re wondering what I’m doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well so am I. I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is — is leather. Bono at  the  54th annual National Prayer Breakfast.  

Starting your speech by sharing a little-known fact, can be powerful. For this to fully work, you need to have the audience’s attention from the very first word. Read on for how these speakers started strong.

Powerful introductions using facts

Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat. Jamie Oliver, Teach Every Child About Food. So I want to start by offering you a free, no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes. Amy Cuddy, Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are. Okay, now I don’t want to alarm anybody in this room, but it’s just come to my attention that the person to your right is a liar. (Laughter) Also, the person to your left is a liar. Also the person sitting in your very seats is a liar. We’re all liars. What I’m going to do today is I’m going to show you what the research says about why we’re all liars, how you can become a lie spotter and why you might want to go the extra mile and go from lie spotting to truth seeking, and ultimately to trust building. Pamela Meyer, How to Spot a Liar. You will live 7.5 minutes longer than you would have otherwise, just because you watched this talk.  Jane McGonigal. The Game That Can Give You Ten Extra Years of Life. There are 900,000 divorces   in the United States of America every year.   Fewer than 10% of them   ever talked to anybody about their relationship.   So why would you need a science?   Well, we need a science to develop effective treatment   and understanding of how to make love work.   Why?   Why should we care about having great relationships?   Well, it turns out that in the past 50 years,   a field called social epidemiology has emerged,   and it shows that great friendships,   great love relationships between lovers and parents and children   lead to greater health – mental health as well as physical health –   greater wealth, greater resilience,   faster recovery from illness,   greater longevity –   if you want to live 10 to 15 years longer, work on your relationships,   not just your exercise –   and more successful children as well.   John Gottman. The Science of Love.  This room may appear to be holding 600 people but there is actually so many more because within each of us there is a multiple of personalities. Elizabeth Lesser,  Take the Other to Lunch.

Using a physical object can draw the audience’s attention. Make sure you plan the timing of the prop, and you practice with it. It is important that it is large enough for the audience to see and they can see it well enough that they are not frustrated. Depending on your speech, it may be appropriate to put it away, so it is not distracting.

Powerful introductions using props

Darren Tay walks onto the stage and stares at the audience. He pulls a pair of underwear out of his pocket and puts them on over his suit. “Hey loser how do you like your new school uniform. I think it looks great on you. Those were the words of my high school bully Greg Upperfield. Now if you are all wondering if the underwear that Greg used was clean, I had the same questions. Darren Tay, Outsmart, Outlast. Toastmasters 2016 World Champion of Public Speaking . Mohammed Qahtani walks onstage, puts a cigarette in his mouth … then looks up as if noticing the audience and says, “What?” As the audience laughs, he continues. “Oh, you all think smoking kills? Ha-ha, let me tell you something. Do you know that the amount of people dying from diabetes are three times as many [as the] people dying from smoking? Yet if I pulled out a Snickers bar, nobody would say anything.” He goes on to say, his facts are made up and his real topic is about how words have power. Mohammed Qahtani, Toastmasters 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking
JA Gamach blows a train whistle and then starts his speech as if he were a conductor, “All aboard! It’s a bright sunny day and you are taking a train. You are wearing a pair of sandals you proudly made yourself. As you board the train one of your sandals slips off and falls beside the track.  (J.A. loses one sandal that falls down the platform.)  You try to retrieve it. Too late. The train starts to pull away. What would you have done? I would have cursed my bad luck, mad at losing a sandal. JA Gamache, Toastmasters 2007 World Championship. 

Use a Quotation

Powerful introductions using quotes.

Rules for using quotes

  • Be sure to use the quote purposefully and not just as placeholders.
  • Quotes can just take up valuable space where you could put content unless they are not properly used.
  • Let the quote be more important than the author. When using a quote at the opening, say the quote first and then the author. When using a quote at the end of a speech, say the author first and then the quote.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Use a quote that gets to the point quickly.
  • If you must use long quotes–put them on your slide.
  • If you project a quote, read it to the audience. Never expect them to read it while you talk about something else. Never say stupid things like, “You can read, I’ll let you read this for yourselves” or “Your adults, I’ll let you process this.”
  • Check the authorship and authenticity of the quote. There are so many quotes on the internet that are misattributed and misquoted. For example, who wrote the quote: “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”?
  • Do not go for the overused quote or your audience is prone to dismiss it.  Instead of quoting an overused “I have a dream quote” do as Jim Key, the 2003 Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking did and pick an equally great but lesser-used Martin Luther King Quote: “The time is always right to do what is right!”

Watch Nate Stauffer at a Moth Grand Slam as he uses poetry to start and carry his story.

Watch this clip for how Andrew Solomon opens with a quote to make us think about depression. 

Andrew Solomon, Depression, The Secret We Share. 

Reference the Occasion

Ceremonial speeches often call for acknowledgment of those in attendance or a mention of the occasion. Here is how Martin Luther King Junior set up his famous speech. I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Martin Luther King Junior, I Have a Dream.

Get the Audience Involved

Having the audience stand, raise their hand, or even nod in encouragement can cause them to focus on your message. This can be particularly helpful if the audience has been sitting for a while. Let me show you a few examples of how that works.

Ask a Question

You can involve the audience from the start by asking them a question.

Watch the first few minutes of Amy Purdy’s speech and how she starts with a question, “ If your life were a book   and you were the author,   how would you want your story to go?” 

More powerful introductions using a question

I’m here today to talk about a disturbing question, which has an equally disturbing answer. My topic is the secret of domestic violence and the question I’m going to tackle is the one everyone always asks. Why would she stay? Why would anyone stay with a man who beats her? Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave- Leslie Morgan Steiner Here’s a question we need to rethink together: What should be the role of money and markets in our societies? Today, there are very few things that money can’t buy. If you’re sentenced to a jail term in Santa Barbara, California, you should know that if you don’t like the standard accommodations, you can buy a prison cell upgrade. It’s true. For how much, do you think? What would you guess? Five hundred dollars? It’s not the Ritz-Carlton. It’s a jail! Eighty-two dollars a night. Eighty-two dollars a night. Michael Sandel, Why We Shouldn’t Trust Markets with Our Civic Life.
How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  Can you remember a moment when a brilliant idea flashed into your head? Darren LaCroix,  Ouch! World Champion of Public Speaking.

Have the Audience Participate

If you ask a question you want the audience to answer, be sure to give them time to respond. If they raise their hands, be sure to acknowledge their response. You might have the answer by standing, by raising their hands, by speaking to their neighbor. You might call on one member of the audience to answer for the group.

If you ask a question you want the audience to answer, don’t let your presentation slide give away the answer. For example, one speaker had a slide behind him that said, “Lesson 1: Don’t Worry About IQ.” He has the audience raise their hand if they want to improve their grades then he asks, “So can I get a show of hands, how many would say IQ is going to be the most important to get those marks to go up?” Very few people responded because the answer was “written on the wall” literally.

Watch this clip as Allan Pease engages the audience.

Everybody hold your right hand in front like this in a handshaking position. Uncross your legs. Relaxed position. Right hand in front. When I say the word, “Now” here’s what we’re going to do. I am going to ask you to turn to someone besides you, shake hands as if you’re meeting for the first time, and keep pumping till I ask you to stop. Then you’ll stop and freeze it and we’re going to analyze what’s happening. You got that? You don’t have time to think about this. Do it now. Pick anybody and pump. Pump, everybody. Freeze it. Hold it. Stop. Hold it. Freeze it. Keep your hands locked. Keep them locked. The person whose hand is most on top is saying “I’ll be the boss for the rest of the day.” Allan Pease, Body Language, the Power is in the Palm of Your Hands. 

More powerful introductions using audience participation

I have a confession to make. But first, I want you to make a little confession to me. In the past year, I want you to just raise your hand if you’ve experienced relatively little stress? Kelly McGonigal, How to Make Stress Your Friend. So I’d like to start, if I may, by asking you some questions. If you’ve ever lost someone you truly loved, ever had your heartbroken, ever struggled through an acrimonious divorce, or being the victim of infidelity, please stand up. If standing up isn’t accessible to you, you can put your hand up. Please stay standing and keep your hand up there. If you’ve ever lived through a natural disaster, being bullied or made redundant, stand on up. If you’ve ever had a miscarriage, if you’ve ever had an abortion or struggled through infertility, please stand up. Finally, if you or anyone you love has had to cope with mental illness, dementia, some form of physical impairment or cope with suicide, please stand up. Look around you. Adversity doesn’t discriminate. If you are alive, you are going to have to, or you’ve already had to, deal with some tough times Thank you, everyone. Take a seat. Lucy Hone: The Three Secrets of Resilient People.  Advice from Moth Storytelling Club Have a great first line that sets up the stakes and grabs attention No: “So I was thinking about climbing this mountain. But then I watched a little TV and made a snack and took a nap and my mom called and vented about her psoriasis then I did a little laundry (a whites load) (I lost another sock, darn it!) and then I thought about it again and decided I’d climb the mountain the next morning.” Yes: “The mountain loomed before me. I had my hunting knife, some trail mix and snow boots. I had to make it to the little cabin and start a fire before sundown or freeze to death for sure.”  

Arouse Suspense or Curiosity

Watch this clip for how Kathryn Schulz creates curiosity by showing us Johnny Depp’s tattoo and then talks about her tattoo of regret. We hang on to her every word wondering, “Where is all this going and how bad can her tattoo really be?”

So that’s Johnny Depp, of course.   And that’s Johnny Depp’s shoulder.   And that’s Johnny Depp’s famous shoulder tattoo.   Some of you might know that, in 1990,   Depp got engaged to Winona Ryder,   and he had tattooed on his right shoulder   “Winona forever.”   And then three years later —   which in fairness, kind of is forever by Hollywood standards —   they broke up,   and Johnny went and got a little bit of repair work done.   And now his shoulder says, “Wino forever.”

Kathryn Schulz, Don’t Regret, Regret. 

  Saying unexpected things or challenging assumptions can get a speech started off right. A herd of wildebeests, a shoal of fish, a flock of birds. Many animals gather in large groups that are among the most wonderful spectacles in the natural world. But why do these groups form? The common answers include things like seeking safety in numbers or hunting in packs or gathering to mate or breed, and all of these explanations, while often true, make a huge assumption about animal behavior, that the animals are in control of their own actions, that they are in charge of their bodies. And that is often not the case. Ed Yong. Zombie Roaches and Other Parasite Tales. TED Talk

 Keys to Success

Memorize your first sentence so you can deliver it with impact. Memorize your whole speech opening if possible. Make sure your first three words have an impact.

Typical Patterns for Speech Openings

  • Get the audience’s attention–called a hook or a grabber.
  • Establish rapport and tell the audience why you care about the topic of why you are credible to speak on the topic.
  • Introduce the speech thesis/preview/good idea.
  • Tell the audience why they should care about this topic.
  • Give a transition statement to the body of the speech.

Step Two: Credibility

First, you hook the audience with your powerful grabber, then you tell them why you are credible to speak on the topic and why the topic is important. If they know your credentials, you would not need to tell them your credibility but you may still want to tell them why you are interested in the topic. Here are a few examples of how some speakers included credibility.

Tell Why You Are Credible

I’m a doctor, but I kind of slipped sideways into research, and now I’m an epidemiologist. Ben Goldacre, Battling Bad Science.  I started studying resilience research a decade ago at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was an amazing time to be there because the professors who trained me had just picked up the contract to train all 1.1 million American soldiers to be as mentally fit as they always have been physically fit. Lucy Hone: The Three Secrets of Resilient People.  What I’m going to do is to just give a few notes,   and this is from a book I’m preparing called   “Letters to a Young Scientist.”   I’d thought it’d be appropriate to   present it, on the basis that I have had extensive experience   in teaching, counseling scientists across a broad array of fields.   And you might like to hear some of the principles that I’ve developed in doing   that teaching and counseling. EO Wilson: Advice to a Young Scientist. 

Step Three: Tell Why it is Important

Early on in your speech, you should tell the audience why they should care. You should connect the speech to things they care about. This is where you answer, so what, who cares?

You know, I didn’t set out to be a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not very interested in parenting, per se. It’s just that there’s a certain style of parenting these days that is kind of messing up kids, impeding their chances to develop.  Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise Successful Kids – Without Over-Parenting

Step Four: Tell the Purpose of the Talk (aka Preview/ Thesis)

“If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.” – Harvey Diamond, author

Tell the audience your purpose, clearly give them an overview of the main points.  MIT professor, Patrick Winston says one of the best things to add to your speech is an empowerment promise. You want to tell people what they will know at the end of your speech that they didn’t know at the beginning. It’s their reason for being here.  His empowerment promise was, “Today you will see some examples of what you can put in your armory of speaking techniques and it will be the case that one of those examples–some heuristic, some technique, maybe only one will be the one that will get you the job. By the end of the next 60 minutes, you will have been exposed to a lot of ideas, some of which you will incorporate into your own repertoire, and they will ensure that you get the maximum opportunity to have your ideas valued and accepted by the people you speak with.” Notice that this statement told you what to expect and why it mattered.

Here are examples of how various speakers accomplished this.

For years, I’ve been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I’ve turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours. Kelly McGonigal, How to Make Stress Your Friend.   We’ve been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It’s a bad thing, and to live with a disability makes you exceptional. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t make you exceptional. Stella Young, I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much
What I’m going to show you is all of the main things, all of the main features of my discipline, evidence-based medicine. And I will talk you through all of these and demonstrate how they work, exclusively using examples of people getting stuff wrong. Ben Goldacre, Battling Bad Science.  I would like to think that we (Arab women) poor, oppressed women actually have some useful, certainly hard-earned lessons to share, lessons that might turn out useful for anyone wishing to thrive in the modern world. Here are three of mine. Leila Hoteit, Three Lessons on Success from an Arab businesswoman We are often terrified and fascinated by the power hackers now have. They scare us. But the choices they make have dramatic outcomes that influence us all. So I am here today because I think we need hackers, and in fact, they just might be the immune system for the information age. Sometimes they make us sick, but they also find those hidden threats in our world, and they make us fix it. Keren Elazari. Hackers: The Internet’s Immune System Try This — Inspired by TED Master Class After you write your thesis, send it to three people with the question, “Based on what you read here, what do you think my speech will be about?”  

Putting It All Together

At this point, you know you need to have a grabber, a preview, a credibility statement, and a so-what-who-cares statement.  Let’s take a look at one of the top TED talks of all time by Jamie Oliver. This speech is a good illustration of everything we’ve been talking about so far and how all this works together.

Get the audience’s attention–
called a hook or a grabber.

 

     
Establish rapport and tell the audience why you care about the topic or why you are credible to speak on the topic.                
Tell the audience why they should care about this topic.          
Introduce the speech thesis/preview/good idea.    

Give a transition statement
to the body of the speech.
             

A painted sign that says, "stop"

“Everybody close your eyes.”

I don’t want to close my eyes; it makes me feel awkward and exposed to be in a group of people with my eyes closed. Because of that, I keep my eyes open. The problem is  when I keep my eyes open, I feel like some sort of horrible nonconformist rebel. I feel awkward with my eyes closed and I feel guilty if they are open. Either way, I just feel bad. Besides, half of the time when speakers tell audience members to close their eyes, they forget to tell us when we can open them. If you are wanting me to imagine a story, just tell me to imagine it, don’t make me close my eyes (rant over).

“Can everybody hear me?”

You should plan your opening to be intentional and with power. “Can everybody hear me” is a weak and uncertain statement and this is not the first impression you want to leave. Do a microphone check before the audience members arrive and have someone stand in different corners of the room to make sure you can be heard. Don’t waste your valuable speech time with questions that you should already know the answer to.

“How long do I have to speak?”

You should know that before you begin. Even if the presentations for the day are running over and you are the last speaker, you should ask the MC before you begin. Always plan your first words with power.

“Can you read this?”

You should make your slides big, really big. Test out your slides in advance of your speech, walk all around the room and make sure you can read them. Have a friend check them out as well. You should know they are big enough because you planned for it and tested it.

“Turn off your cell phones and laptops.”

People really hate having things taken away, not to mention that your audience may want to take notes on their devices. Chances are you are speaking to adults, let them determine if it is appropriate to have out their technology.

“I’m sorry, I’m losing my voice.” “I’m stopped up.” “I’m under the weather.”

Stop apologizing! Stop making excuses!  While these lines may be true, they just come of as excuses and can make the audience either feel like you don’t want to be there, or they just feel sorry for you.

“I’m so nervous right now.”

Talking about your nervousness will make you more nervous and will make them look for signs of your nervousness. Just start your speech.

“So, Um, Ok.”

Do not start with hesitation. Plan the first words, memorize the first words, practice the first words.  Do not start with “Ok, so um, now I’d like…” Plan strong and start strong.

Do Not Discuss Your Business with People Watching…Really! I Mean It! Many of us are giving and listening to presentations in an online format.  I have attended numerous presentations this year through Zoom where I have to sit and watch while the organizers engage in personal small talk or deal with the details of the presentation. This is how the speech I recently attended began. “Donna, you are going to share your screen, right?” “Yes. I have my PowerPoint ready to go. Will you push “record” when I give the signal?” “Sure. Where did you say that button is again? Do you think we should wait five more minutes, I think we had more who were coming? Dave, what was the total we were expecting?” “Yeah, we had 116 sign up, but the reminders went out late so this may be all we have. We can give them a few more minutes to log on.” “Donna, How is your dog? Is she still struggling with her cone since her spay surgery? My dog never would wear the cone –she tore her stitches out and broke her wound open. It was terrible. Well, it looks like it is about time to begin, thank you everyone for coming.” If you are organizing an event online, hosting a speech online, giving a presentation online–please keep it professional. Most platforms will allow you to keep the audience in a waiting room until it is time to start. If you have a business to deal with, keep the audience out until you have everything ready to go. Once the audience is in the meeting, you should engage the audience in group-type small talk or you should just start the presentation. In professional settings, you should start the meeting on time. Why punish those who showed up on time to wait for those who aren’t there yet?

A Conversation Over Coffee with Bill Rogers

I asked my long-time friend, Bill Rogers, to write an excerpt to add to the book.  I met Bill when he was the Chief Development Officer for a hospital in Northwest Arkansas and I met him again when he was reinventing himself as a college student getting a Master’s Degree in the theater.  He would love to share a symbolic cup of coffee with you and give you advice about public speaking. 

Perfect morning for a walk, isn’t it? Join me for a cup of coffee? Wonderful. Find us a table and I’ll get our coffee.

There you go; just like you like it. There’s nothing like a great cup of coffee on the patio of your neighborhood coffee shop, is there?

Now that you’re settled in your favorite chair, take a sip, and let that glorious caffeine kick in and do its stuff. Okay, let’s talk.

So, you were asking me about public speaking.

Well, let’s see. Where do we begin?

One of the first pieces of advice I ever received was to imagine that every member of your audience is sitting there in their underwear! Yeah, right. That never worked for me. I tried it once with a local civic group of community leaders both male and female. If the intent of that tidbit is to make you relax, it certainly didn’t work for me. It just made me more self-conscious…and more nervous. I not only got distracted, but I also lost my train of thought, I started sweating, and, of course, imagined myself standing there without clothes. Needless to say, that speech was a disaster and I’ve never used it again. I suggest you don’t either.

In the early days, I also relied very heavily on my typed-up speech. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that unless you find yourself reading it word for word as I did. Nothing is more boring nor puts an audience to sleep quicker than a speaker with their nose down reading a speech. There’s no connection and connection with your audience is key.

As you know, I love theatre and I’ve done a bit of acting over the years. Early on, I learned that the quicker I learned my lines, the more I could play, experiment, and shape my character. It relaxed me and gave me enormous freedom. It led me to find a mantra for myself: “With discipline comes freedom.” This freedom will allow you to improvise as your audience or situation dictates while still conveying the core message of your presentation. That discipline and its resulting freedom apply to public speaking of any kind and, I think, will serve you well.

Another old adage we’ve all heard is Aristotle’s advice. You know the one. No? Well, roughly, it’s to tell your audience what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you just said. That’s the basic formula for public speaking. And it works as a good place to start.

However, effective speaking is much more and, to me, it starts with a story or even a simple sentence.

You know the feeling you get when you read the first sentence of a good book and it just reaches out and grabs you? That should be your goal with every presentation. One sentence to capture your audience’s attention. Something that causes them to lean forward. Something that sparks their imagination.

It doesn’t have to be all that profound either. It can be something very simple. A personal story that relates to your topic. A relevant fact or statistic that defines or illustrates the issue or subject matter at hand.

A couple of classics come to mind. The first is Alice Walker’s, “The Color of Purple.”

“You better not tell nobody but God.”

And the second one is from my favorite novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm broken at the elbow.”

Both sentences hook you immediately. A few simple words speak volumes. After reading or hearing those words, you naturally lean in. You want to learn more. You want to find out what happens next. Every effective speech or presentation does the same thing.

Of course, make sure that the first and last thing you say to your audience is both relevant and appropriate. I share this out of an abundance of caution. I once worked for an internationally recognized and well-respected children’s research hospital and I was given the privilege to speak at a national educational convention. The room was filled wall to wall with teachers. I thought I’d be cute and add a little levity. I opened my presentation with this line, “You know, I’ve had nightmares like this…” Instead of the roars of laughter, I was expecting, a wave of silence ensued. Not only was the line not funny, but it was also wholly inappropriate and I immediately lost my audience. Not my best day. Learn from my mistakes.

Finally, let’s touch on the importance of approaching a speech as a conversation. You and I are sitting here enjoying our coffee and having a friendly, relaxed conversation. Strive for that every chance you get. You may not always have that luxury. Some speeches and presentations simply demand formality. But even in those cases, you can usually make it somewhat conversational. I always try to write my speeches in a conversational style. Like I’m talking to a friend…or trying to make a new one.

So, to recap: tell a story, learn your lines, hook your audience with a simple sentence, close with a question or call to action, use repetition, keep it conversational, treat your audience as a friend, and give yourself permission to relax.

Above all, be yourself. Allow yourself to be as relaxed as you are with those closest to you. If you’re relaxed, if you try to think of your audience as a friend, then, in most cases, they too will relax and they will root for you. Even if they disagree with what you are telling them, they will respect you and they will listen.

How about another cup?

Key Takeaways

Remember This!

  • The most important part of your speech is the introduction because if you don’t get their attention, they are not listening to the rest of what you have to say.
  • To get attention, tell a story, use humor, share a quote, tell a startling fact, show a prop, ask a question, reference the occasion.
  • In addition to the grabber, a good introduction should establish rapport and tell the audience why you are credible.
  • An introduction often includes a “so what who cares statement” to tell the audience why this should matter to them.
  • The thesis/preview should be clear enough that someone could read just that sentence or couple of sentences and know what the speech is about.

Please share your feedback, suggestions, corrections, and ideas.

I want to hear from you. 

Do you have an activity to include? Did you notice a typo that I should correct? Are you planning to use this as a resource and do you want me to know about it? Do you want to tell me something that really helped you?

Click here to share your feedback. 

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How to write a speech that your audience remembers

Confident-woman-giving-a-conference-with-a-digital-presentation-how-to-give-a-speech

Whether in a work meeting or at an investor panel, you might give a speech at some point. And no matter how excited you are about the opportunity, the experience can be nerve-wracking . 

But feeling butterflies doesn’t mean you can’t give a great speech. With the proper preparation and a clear outline, apprehensive public speakers and natural wordsmiths alike can write and present a compelling message. Here’s how to write a good speech you’ll be proud to deliver.

What is good speech writing?

Good speech writing is the art of crafting words and ideas into a compelling, coherent, and memorable message that resonates with the audience. Here are some key elements of great speech writing:

  • It begins with clearly understanding the speech's purpose and the audience it seeks to engage. 
  • A well-written speech clearly conveys its central message, ensuring that the audience understands and retains the key points. 
  • It is structured thoughtfully, with a captivating opening, a well-organized body, and a conclusion that reinforces the main message. 
  • Good speech writing embraces the power of engaging content, weaving in stories, examples, and relatable anecdotes to connect with the audience on both intellectual and emotional levels. 

Ultimately, it is the combination of these elements, along with the authenticity and delivery of the speaker , that transforms words on a page into a powerful and impactful spoken narrative.

What makes a good speech?

A great speech includes several key qualities, but three fundamental elements make a speech truly effective:

Clarity and purpose

Remembering the audience, cohesive structure.

While other important factors make a speech a home run, these three elements are essential for writing an effective speech.

The main elements of a good speech

The main elements of a speech typically include:

  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your speech and grabs the audience's attention. It should include a hook or attention-grabbing opening, introduce the topic, and provide an overview of what will be covered.
  • Opening/captivating statement: This is a strong statement that immediately engages the audience and creates curiosity about the speech topics.
  • Thesis statement/central idea: The thesis statement or central idea is a concise statement that summarizes the main point or argument of your speech. It serves as a roadmap for the audience to understand what your speech is about.
  • Body: The body of the speech is where you elaborate on your main points or arguments. Each point is typically supported by evidence, examples, statistics, or anecdotes. The body should be organized logically and coherently, with smooth transitions between the main points.
  • Supporting evidence: This includes facts, data, research findings, expert opinions, or personal stories that support and strengthen your main points. Well-chosen and credible evidence enhances the persuasive power of your speech.
  • Transitions: Transitions are phrases or statements that connect different parts of your speech, guiding the audience from one idea to the next. Effective transitions signal the shifts in topics or ideas and help maintain a smooth flow throughout the speech.
  • Counterarguments and rebuttals (if applicable): If your speech involves addressing opposing viewpoints or counterarguments, you should acknowledge and address them. Presenting counterarguments makes your speech more persuasive and demonstrates critical thinking.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion is the final part of your speech and should bring your message to a satisfying close. Summarize your main points, restate your thesis statement, and leave the audience with a memorable closing thought or call to action.
  • Closing statement: This is the final statement that leaves a lasting impression and reinforces the main message of your speech. It can be a call to action, a thought-provoking question, a powerful quote, or a memorable anecdote.
  • Delivery and presentation: How you deliver your speech is also an essential element to consider. Pay attention to your tone, body language, eye contact , voice modulation, and timing. Practice and rehearse your speech, and try using the 7-38-55 rule to ensure confident and effective delivery.

While the order and emphasis of these elements may vary depending on the type of speech and audience, these elements provide a framework for organizing and delivering a successful speech.

Man-holding-microphone-at-panel-while-talking--how-to-give-a-speech

How to structure a good speech

You know what message you want to transmit, who you’re delivering it to, and even how you want to say it. But you need to know how to start, develop, and close a speech before writing it. 

Think of a speech like an essay. It should have an introduction, conclusion, and body sections in between. This places ideas in a logical order that the audience can better understand and follow them. Learning how to make a speech with an outline gives your storytelling the scaffolding it needs to get its point across.

Here’s a general speech structure to guide your writing process:

  • Explanation 1
  • Explanation 2
  • Explanation 3

How to write a compelling speech opener

Some research shows that engaged audiences pay attention for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Other estimates are even lower, citing that people stop listening intently in fewer than 10 minutes . If you make a good first impression at the beginning of your speech, you have a better chance of interesting your audience through the middle when attention spans fade. 

Implementing the INTRO model can help grab and keep your audience’s attention as soon as you start speaking. This acronym stands for interest, need, timing, roadmap, and objectives, and it represents the key points you should hit in an opening. 

Here’s what to include for each of these points: 

  • Interest : Introduce yourself or your topic concisely and speak with confidence . Write a compelling opening statement using relevant data or an anecdote that the audience can relate to.
  • Needs : The audience is listening to you because they have something to learn. If you’re pitching a new app idea to a panel of investors, those potential partners want to discover more about your product and what they can earn from it. Read the room and gently remind them of the purpose of your speech. 
  • Timing : When appropriate, let your audience know how long you’ll speak. This lets listeners set expectations and keep tabs on their own attention span. If a weary audience member knows you’ll talk for 40 minutes, they can better manage their energy as that time goes on. 
  • Routemap : Give a brief overview of the three main points you’ll cover in your speech. If an audience member’s attention starts to drop off and they miss a few sentences, they can more easily get their bearings if they know the general outline of the presentation.
  • Objectives : Tell the audience what you hope to achieve, encouraging them to listen to the end for the payout. 

Writing the middle of a speech

The body of your speech is the most information-dense section. Facts, visual aids, PowerPoints — all this information meets an audience with a waning attention span. Sticking to the speech structure gives your message focus and keeps you from going off track, making everything you say as useful as possible.

Limit the middle of your speech to three points, and support them with no more than three explanations. Following this model organizes your thoughts and prevents you from offering more information than the audience can retain. 

Using this section of the speech to make your presentation interactive can add interest and engage your audience. Try including a video or demonstration to break the monotony. A quick poll or survey also keeps the audience on their toes. 

Wrapping the speech up

To you, restating your points at the end can feel repetitive and dull. You’ve practiced countless times and heard it all before. But repetition aids memory and learning , helping your audience retain what you’ve told them. Use your speech’s conclusion to summarize the main points with a few short sentences.

Try to end on a memorable note, like posing a motivational quote or a thoughtful question the audience can contemplate once they leave. In proposal or pitch-style speeches, consider landing on a call to action (CTA) that invites your audience to take the next step.

People-clapping-after-coworker-gave-a-speech-how-to-give-a-speech

How to write a good speech

If public speaking gives you the jitters, you’re not alone. Roughly 80% of the population feels nervous before giving a speech, and another 10% percent experiences intense anxiety and sometimes even panic. 

The fear of failure can cause procrastination and can cause you to put off your speechwriting process until the last minute. Finding the right words takes time and preparation, and if you’re already feeling nervous, starting from a blank page might seem even harder.

But putting in the effort despite your stress is worth it. Presenting a speech you worked hard on fosters authenticity and connects you to the subject matter, which can help your audience understand your points better. Human connection is all about honesty and vulnerability, and if you want to connect to the people you’re speaking to, they should see that in you.

1. Identify your objectives and target audience

Before diving into the writing process, find healthy coping strategies to help you stop worrying . Then you can define your speech’s purpose, think about your target audience, and start identifying your objectives. Here are some questions to ask yourself and ground your thinking : 

  • What purpose do I want my speech to achieve? 
  • What would it mean to me if I achieved the speech’s purpose?
  • What audience am I writing for? 
  • What do I know about my audience? 
  • What values do I want to transmit? 
  • If the audience remembers one take-home message, what should it be? 
  • What do I want my audience to feel, think, or do after I finish speaking? 
  • What parts of my message could be confusing and require further explanation?

2. Know your audience

Understanding your audience is crucial for tailoring your speech effectively. Consider the demographics of your audience, their interests, and their expectations. For instance, if you're addressing a group of healthcare professionals, you'll want to use medical terminology and data that resonate with them. Conversely, if your audience is a group of young students, you'd adjust your content to be more relatable to their experiences and interests. 

3. Choose a clear message

Your message should be the central idea that you want your audience to take away from your speech. Let's say you're giving a speech on climate change. Your clear message might be something like, "Individual actions can make a significant impact on mitigating climate change." Throughout your speech, all your points and examples should support this central message, reinforcing it for your audience.

4. Structure your speech

Organizing your speech properly keeps your audience engaged and helps them follow your ideas. The introduction should grab your audience's attention and introduce the topic. For example, if you're discussing space exploration, you could start with a fascinating fact about a recent space mission. In the body, you'd present your main points logically, such as the history of space exploration, its scientific significance, and future prospects. Finally, in the conclusion, you'd summarize your key points and reiterate the importance of space exploration in advancing human knowledge.

5. Use engaging content for clarity

Engaging content includes stories, anecdotes, statistics, and examples that illustrate your main points. For instance, if you're giving a speech about the importance of reading, you might share a personal story about how a particular book changed your perspective. You could also include statistics on the benefits of reading, such as improved cognitive abilities and empathy.

6. Maintain clarity and simplicity

It's essential to communicate your ideas clearly. Avoid using overly technical jargon or complex language that might confuse your audience. For example, if you're discussing a medical breakthrough with a non-medical audience, explain complex terms in simple, understandable language.

7. Practice and rehearse

Practice is key to delivering a great speech. Rehearse multiple times to refine your delivery, timing, and tone. Consider using a mirror or recording yourself to observe your body language and gestures. For instance, if you're giving a motivational speech, practice your gestures and expressions to convey enthusiasm and confidence.

8. Consider nonverbal communication

Your body language, tone of voice, and gestures should align with your message . If you're delivering a speech on leadership, maintain strong eye contact to convey authority and connection with your audience. A steady pace and varied tone can also enhance your speech's impact.

9. Engage your audience

Engaging your audience keeps them interested and attentive. Encourage interaction by asking thought-provoking questions or sharing relatable anecdotes. If you're giving a speech on teamwork, ask the audience to recall a time when teamwork led to a successful outcome, fostering engagement and connection.

10. Prepare for Q&A

Anticipate potential questions or objections your audience might have and prepare concise, well-informed responses. If you're delivering a speech on a controversial topic, such as healthcare reform, be ready to address common concerns, like the impact on healthcare costs or access to services, during the Q&A session.

By following these steps and incorporating examples that align with your specific speech topic and purpose, you can craft and deliver a compelling and impactful speech that resonates with your audience.

Woman-at-home-doing-research-in-her-laptop-how-to-give-a-speech

Tools for writing a great speech

There are several helpful tools available for speechwriting, both technological and communication-related. Here are a few examples:

  • Word processing software: Tools like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other word processors provide a user-friendly environment for writing and editing speeches. They offer features like spell-checking, grammar correction, formatting options, and easy revision tracking.
  • Presentation software: Software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides is useful when creating visual aids to accompany your speech. These tools allow you to create engaging slideshows with text, images, charts, and videos to enhance your presentation.
  • Speechwriting Templates: Online platforms or software offer pre-designed templates specifically for speechwriting. These templates provide guidance on structuring your speech and may include prompts for different sections like introductions, main points, and conclusions.
  • Rhetorical devices and figures of speech: Rhetorical tools such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, and parallelism can add impact and persuasion to your speech. Resources like books, websites, or academic papers detailing various rhetorical devices can help you incorporate them effectively.
  • Speechwriting apps: Mobile apps designed specifically for speechwriting can be helpful in organizing your thoughts, creating outlines, and composing a speech. These apps often provide features like voice recording, note-taking, and virtual prompts to keep you on track.
  • Grammar and style checkers: Online tools or plugins like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor help improve the clarity and readability of your speech by checking for grammar, spelling, and style errors. They provide suggestions for sentence structure, word choice, and overall tone.
  • Thesaurus and dictionary: Online or offline resources such as thesauruses and dictionaries help expand your vocabulary and find alternative words or phrases to express your ideas more effectively. They can also clarify meanings or provide context for unfamiliar terms.
  • Online speechwriting communities: Joining online forums or communities focused on speechwriting can be beneficial for getting feedback, sharing ideas, and learning from experienced speechwriters. It's an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and improve your public speaking skills through collaboration.

Remember, while these tools can assist in the speechwriting process, it's essential to use them thoughtfully and adapt them to your specific needs and style. The most important aspect of speechwriting remains the creativity, authenticity, and connection with your audience that you bring to your speech.

Man-holding-microphone-while-speaking-in-public-how-to-give-a-speech

5 tips for writing a speech

Behind every great speech is an excellent idea and a speaker who refined it. But a successful speech is about more than the initial words on the page, and there are a few more things you can do to help it land.

Here are five more tips for writing and practicing your speech:

1. Structure first, write second

If you start the writing process before organizing your thoughts, you may have to re-order, cut, and scrap the sentences you worked hard on. Save yourself some time by using a speech structure, like the one above, to order your talking points first. This can also help you identify unclear points or moments that disrupt your flow.

2. Do your homework

Data strengthens your argument with a scientific edge. Research your topic with an eye for attention-grabbing statistics, or look for findings you can use to support each point. If you’re pitching a product or service, pull information from company metrics that demonstrate past or potential successes. 

Audience members will likely have questions, so learn all talking points inside and out. If you tell investors that your product will provide 12% returns, for example, come prepared with projections that support that statement.

3. Sound like yourself

Memorable speakers have distinct voices. Think of Martin Luther King Jr’s urgent, inspiring timbre or Oprah’s empathetic, personal tone . Establish your voice — one that aligns with your personality and values — and stick with it. If you’re a motivational speaker, keep your tone upbeat to inspire your audience . If you’re the CEO of a startup, try sounding assured but approachable. 

4. Practice

As you practice a speech, you become more confident , gain a better handle on the material, and learn the outline so well that unexpected questions are less likely to trip you up. Practice in front of a colleague or friend for honest feedback about what you could change, and speak in front of the mirror to tweak your nonverbal communication and body language .

5. Remember to breathe

When you’re stressed, you breathe more rapidly . It can be challenging to talk normally when you can’t regulate your breath. Before your presentation, try some mindful breathing exercises so that when the day comes, you already have strategies that will calm you down and remain present . This can also help you control your voice and avoid speaking too quickly.

How to ghostwrite a great speech for someone else

Ghostwriting a speech requires a unique set of skills, as you're essentially writing a piece that will be delivered by someone else. Here are some tips on how to effectively ghostwrite a speech:

  • Understand the speaker's voice and style : Begin by thoroughly understanding the speaker's personality, speaking style, and preferences. This includes their tone, humor, and any personal anecdotes they may want to include.
  • Interview the speaker : Have a detailed conversation with the speaker to gather information about their speech's purpose, target audience, key messages, and any specific points they want to emphasize. Ask for personal stories or examples they may want to include.
  • Research thoroughly : Research the topic to ensure you have a strong foundation of knowledge. This helps you craft a well-informed and credible speech.
  • Create an outline : Develop a clear outline that includes the introduction, main points, supporting evidence, and a conclusion. Share this outline with the speaker for their input and approval.
  • Write in the speaker's voice : While crafting the speech, maintain the speaker's voice and style. Use language and phrasing that feel natural to them. If they have a particular way of expressing ideas, incorporate that into the speech.
  • Craft a captivating opening : Begin the speech with a compelling opening that grabs the audience's attention. This could be a relevant quote, an interesting fact, a personal anecdote, or a thought-provoking question.
  • Organize content logically : Ensure the speech flows logically, with each point building on the previous one. Use transitions to guide the audience from one idea to the next smoothly.
  • Incorporate engaging stories and examples : Include anecdotes, stories, and real-life examples that illustrate key points and make the speech relatable and memorable.
  • Edit and revise : Edit the speech carefully for clarity, grammar, and coherence. Ensure the speech is the right length and aligns with the speaker's time constraints.
  • Seek feedback : Share drafts of the speech with the speaker for their feedback and revisions. They may have specific changes or additions they'd like to make.
  • Practice delivery : If possible, work with the speaker on their delivery. Practice the speech together, allowing the speaker to become familiar with the content and your writing style.
  • Maintain confidentiality : As a ghostwriter, it's essential to respect the confidentiality and anonymity of the work. Do not disclose that you wrote the speech unless you have the speaker's permission to do so.
  • Be flexible : Be open to making changes and revisions as per the speaker's preferences. Your goal is to make them look good and effectively convey their message.
  • Meet deadlines : Stick to agreed-upon deadlines for drafts and revisions. Punctuality and reliability are essential in ghostwriting.
  • Provide support : Support the speaker during their preparation and rehearsal process. This can include helping with cue cards, speech notes, or any other materials they need.

Remember that successful ghostwriting is about capturing the essence of the speaker while delivering a well-structured and engaging speech. Collaboration, communication, and adaptability are key to achieving this.

Give your best speech yet

Learn how to make a speech that’ll hold an audience’s attention by structuring your thoughts and practicing frequently. Put the effort into writing and preparing your content, and aim to improve your breathing, eye contact , and body language as you practice. The more you work on your speech, the more confident you’ll become.

The energy you invest in writing an effective speech will help your audience remember and connect to every concept. Remember: some life-changing philosophies have come from good speeches, so give your words a chance to resonate with others. You might even change their thinking.

Boost your speech skills

Enhance your public speaking with personalized coaching tailored to your needs

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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8 Effective Introductions and Powerful Conclusions

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the functions of introductions and conclusions.
  • Understand the key parts of an introduction and a conclusion.
  • Explore techniques to create your own effective introductions and conclusions.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Introductions and conclusions can be challenging. One of the most common complaints novice public speakers have is that they simply don’t know how to start or end a speech. It may feel natural to start crafting a speech at the beginning, but it can be difficult to craft an introduction for something which doesn’t yet exist. Many times, creative and effective ideas for how to begin a speech will come to speakers as they go through the process of researching and organizing ideas. Similarly, a conclusion needs to be well considered and leave audience members with a sense of satisfaction.

In this chapter, we will explore why introductions and conclusions are important, and we will identify various ways speakers can create impactful beginnings and endings. There is not a “right” way to start or end a speech, but we can provide some helpful guidelines that will make your introductions and conclusions much easier for you as a speaker and more effective for your audience.

The Importance of an Introduction

how to write a great introduction to a speech

The introduction of a speech is incredibly important because it needs to establish the topic and purpose, set up the reason your audience should listen to you and set a precedent for the rest of the speech.  Imagine the first day of a semester long class.  You will have a different perception of the course if the teacher is excited, creative and clear about what is to come then if the teacher recites to you what the class is about and is confused or disorganized about the rest of the semester.  The same thing goes for a speech. The introduction is an important opportunity for the speaker to gain the interest and trust of the audience.

Overall, an effective introduction serves five functions. Let’s examine each of these.

Gain Audience Attention and Interest

The first major purpose of an introduction is to gain your audience’s attention and get them interested in what you have to say. While your audience may know you, this is your speeches’ first impression! One common incorrect assumption beginning speakers make that people will naturally listen because the speaker is speaking. While many audiences may be polite and not talk while you’re speaking, actually getting them to listen and care about what you are saying is a completely different challenge. Think to a time when you’ve tuned out a speaker because you were not interested in what they had to say or how they were saying it.  However, I’m sure you can also think of a time someone engaged you in a topic you wouldn’t have thought was interesting, but because of how they presented it or their energy about the subject, you were fascinated. As the speaker, you have the ability to engage the audience right away.

State the Purpose of Your Speech

The second major function of an introduction is to reveal the purpose of your speech to your audience. Have you ever sat through a speech wondering what the basic point was? Have you ever come away after a speech and had no idea what the speaker was talking about? An introduction is critical for explaining the topic to the audience and justifying why they should care about it. The speaker needs to have an in-depth understanding of the specific focus of their topic and the goals they have for their speech. Robert Cavett, the founder of the National Speaker’s Association, used the analogy of a preacher giving a sermon when he noted, “When it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pews.” The specific purpose is the one idea you want your audience to remember when you are finished with your speech. Your specific purpose is the rudder that guides your research, organization, and development of main points. The more clearly focused your purpose is, the easier it will be both for you to develop your speech and your audience to understand your core point. To make sure you are developing a specific purpose, you should be able to complete the sentence: “I want my audience to understand…” Notice that your specific speech purpose is phrased in terms of expected audience responses, not in terms of your own perspective.

Establish Credibility

One of the most researched areas within the field of communication has been Aristotle’s concept of ethos or credibility. First, and foremost, the idea of credibility relates directly to audience perception. You may be the most competent, caring, and trustworthy speaker in the world on a given topic, but if your audience does not perceive you as credible, then your expertise and passion will not matter to them. As public speakers, we need to communicate to our audiences why we are credible speakers on a given topic. James C. McCroskey and Jason J. Teven have conducted extensive research on credibility and have determined that an individual’s credibility is composed of three factors: competence, trustworthiness, and caring/goodwill (McCroskey & Teven, 1999). Competence is the degree to which a speaker is perceived to be knowledgeable or expert in a given subject by an audience member.

The second factor of credibility noted by McCroskey and Teven is trustworthiness or the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as honest. Nothing will turn an audience against a speaker faster than if the audience believes the speaker is lying. When the audience does not perceive a speaker as trustworthy, the information coming out of the speaker’s mouth is automatically perceived as deceitful.

Finally, caring/goodwill is the last factor of credibility noted by McCroskey and Teven. Caring/goodwill refers to the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as caring about the audience member. As indicated by Wrench, McCroskey, and Richmond, “If a receiver does not believe that a source has the best intentions in mind for the receiver, the receiver will not see the source as credible. Simply put, we are going to listen to people who we think truly care for us and are looking out for our welfare” (Wrench, McCroskey & Richmond, 2008). As a speaker, then, you need to establish that your information is being presented because you care about your audience and are not just trying to manipulate them. We should note that research has indicated that caring/goodwill is the most important factor of credibility. This understanding means that if an audience believes that a speaker truly cares about the audience’s best interests, the audience may overlook some competence and trust issues.

Credibility relates directly to audience perception. You may be the most competent, caring, and trustworthy speaker in the world on a given topic, but if your audience does not perceive you as credible, then your expertise and passion will not matter to them.

Trustworthiness is the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as honest.

Caring/goodwill is the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as caring about the audience member.

Provide Reasons to Listen

The fourth major function of an introduction is to establish a connection between the speaker and the audience, and one of the most effective means of establishing a connection with your audience is to provide them with reasons why they should listen to your speech. The idea of establishing a connection is an extension of the notion of caring/goodwill. In the chapters on Language and Speech Delivery, we’ll spend a lot more time talking about how you can establish a good relationship with your audience. This relationship starts the moment you step to the front of the room to start speaking.

Instead of assuming the audience will make their own connections to your material, you should explicitly state how your information might be useful to your audience. Tell them directly how they might use your information themselves. It is not enough for you alone to be interested in your topic. You need to build a bridge to the audience by explicitly connecting your topic to their possible needs.

Preview Main Ideas

The last major function of an introduction is to preview the main ideas that your speech will discuss. A preview establishes the direction your speech will take. We sometimes call this process signposting because you’re establishing signs for audience members to look for while you’re speaking. In the most basic speech format, speakers generally have three to five major points they plan on making. During the preview, a speaker outlines what these points will be, which demonstrates to the audience that the speaker is organized.

A study by Baker found that individuals who were unorganized while speaking were perceived as less credible than those individuals who were organized (Baker, 1965). Having a solid preview of the information contained within one’s speech and then following that preview will help a speaker’s credibility. It also helps your audience keep track of where you are if they momentarily daydream or get distracted.

Putting Together a Strong Introduction

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Now that we have an understanding of the functions of an introduction, let’s explore the details of putting one together.  As with all aspects of a speech, these may change based on your audience, circumstance, and topic.  But this will give you a basic understanding of the important parts of an intro, what they do, and how they work together.

Attention Getting Device

An attention-getter is the device a speaker uses at the beginning of a speech to capture an audience’s interest and make them interested in the speech’s topic. Typically, there are four things to consider in choosing a specific attention-getting device:

  • Topic and purpose of the speech
  • Appropriateness or relevance to the audience

First, when selecting an attention-getting device is considering your speech topic and purpose. Ideally, your attention-getting device should have a relevant connection to your speech. Imagine if a speaker pulled condoms out of his pocket, yelled “Free sex!” and threw the condoms at the audience.  This act might gain everyone’s attention, but would probably not be a great way to begin a speech about the economy. Thinking about your topic because the interest you want to create needs to be specific to your subject.  More specifically, you want to consider the basic purpose of your speech. When selecting an attention getter, you want to make sure that you select one that corresponds with your basic purpose. If your goal is to entertain an audience, starting a speech with a quotation about how many people are dying in Africa each day from malnutrition may not be the best way to get your audience’s attention. Remember, one of the goals of an introduction is to prepare your audience for your speech . If your attention-getter differs drastically in tone from the rest of your speech the disjointedness may cause your audience to become confused or tune you out completely.

Possible Attention Getters

These will help you start brainstorming ideas for how to begin your speech.  While not a complete list, these are some of the most common forms of attention-getters:

  • Reference to Current Events
  • Historical Reference
  • Startling Fact
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Hypothetical Situation
  • Demonstration
  • Personal Reference
  • Reference to Audience
  • Reference to Occasion

Second, when selecting an attention-getting device, you want to make sure you are being appropriate and relevant to your specific audience. Different audiences will have different backgrounds and knowledge, so you should keep your audience in mind when determining how to get their attention. For example, if you’re giving a speech on family units to a group of individuals over the age of sixty-five, starting your speech with a reference to the television show Gossip Girl may not be the best idea because the television show may not be relevant to that audience.

Finally, the last consideration involves the speech occasion. Different occasions will necessitate different tones or particular styles or manners of speaking. For example, giving a eulogy at a funeral will have a very different feel than a business presentation. This understanding doesn’t mean certain situations are always the same, but rather taking into account the details of your circumstances will help you craft an effective beginning to your speech.  When selecting an attention-getter, you want to make sure that the attention-getter sets the tone for the speech and situation.

Tones are particular styles or manners of speaking determined by the speech’s occasion.

Link to Topic

The link to the topic occurs when a speaker demonstrates how an attention-getting device relates to the topic of a speech. This presentation of the relationship works to transition your audience from the attention getter to the larger issue you are discussing.  Often the attention-getter and the link to the topic are very clear. But other times, there may need to be a more obvious connection between how you began your attention-getting device and the specific subject you are discussing.  You may have an amazing attention-getter, but if you can’t connect it to the main topic and purpose of your speech, it will not be as effective.

Significance

Once you have linked an attention-getter to the topic of your speech, you need to explain to your audience why your topic is important and why they should care about what you have to say. Sometimes you can include the significance of your topic in the same sentence as your link to the topic, but other times you may need to spell out in one or two sentences why your specific topic is important to this audience.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. A strong, clear thesis statement is very valuable within an introduction because it lays out the basic goal of the entire speech. We strongly believe that it is worthwhile to invest some time in framing and writing a good thesis statement. You may even want to write a version of your thesis statement before you even begin conducting research for your speech in order to guide you. While you may end up rewriting your thesis statement later, having a clear idea of your purpose, intent, or main idea before you start searching for research will help you focus on the most appropriate material.

Preview of Speech

The final part of an introduction contains a preview of the major points to be covered by your speech. I’m sure we’ve all seen signs that have three cities listed on them with the mileage to reach each city. This mileage sign is an indication of what is to come. A preview works the same way. A preview foreshadows what the main body points will be in the speech. For example, to preview a speech on bullying in the workplace, one could say, “To understand the nature of bullying in the modern workplace, I will first define what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying, I will then discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets, and lastly, I will explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.” In this case, each of the phrases mentioned in the preview would be a single distinct point made in the speech itself. In other words, the first major body point in this speech would examine what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying; the second major body point in this speech would discuss the characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets; and lastly, the third body point in this speech would explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.

Putting it all together

The importance of introductions often leads speakers to work on them first, attending to every detail. While it is good to have some ideas and notes about the intro, specifically the thesis statement, it is often best to wait until the majority of the speech is crafted before really digging into the crafting of the introduction.  This timeline may not seem intuitive, but remember, the intro is meant to introduce your speech and set up what is to come.  It is difficult to introduce something that you haven’t made yet.  This is why working on your main points first can help lead to an even stronger introduction.

Why Conclusions Matter

A puzzle with one missing piece

Willi Heidelbach – Puzzle2 – CC BY 2.0.

As public speaking professors and authors, we have seen many students give otherwise good speeches that seem to fall apart at the end. We’ve seen students end their three main points by saying things such as “OK, I’m done”; “Thank God that’s over!”; or “Thanks. Now what? Do I just sit down?” It’s understandable to feel relief at the end of a speech, but remember that as a speaker, your conclusion is the last chance you have to drive home your ideas. When a speaker opts to end the speech with an ineffective conclusion, or no conclusion at all, the speech loses the energy that’s been created, and the audience is left confused and disappointed. Instead of falling prey to emotional exhaustion, remind yourself to keep your energy up as you approach the end of your speech, and plan ahead so that your conclusion will be an effective one.

Of course, a good conclusion will not rescue a poorly prepared speech. Thinking again of the chapters in a novel, if one bypasses all the content in the middle, the ending often isn’t very meaningful or helpful. So to take advantage of the advice in this chapter, you need to keep in mind the importance of developing a speech with an effective introduction and an effective body. If you have these elements, you will have the foundation you need to be able to conclude effectively. Just as a good introduction helps bring an audience member into the world of your speech, and a good speech body holds the audience in that world, a good conclusion helps bring that audience member back to the reality outside of your speech.

In this section, we’re going to examine the functions fulfilled by the conclusion of a speech. A strong conclusion serves to signal the end of the speech and helps your listeners remember your speech.

Signals the End

The first thing a good conclusion can do is to signal the end of a speech. You may be thinking that showing an audience that you’re about to stop speaking is a “no brainer,” but many speakers don’t prepare their audience for the end. When a speaker just suddenly stops speaking, the audience is left confused and disappointed. Instead, we want to make sure that audiences are left knowledgeable and satisfied with our speeches. In the next section, we’ll explain in great detail about how to ensure that you signal the end of your speech in a manner that is both effective and powerful.

Aids Audience’s Memory of Your Speech

The second reason for a good conclusion stems out of some research reported by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus back in 1885 in his book Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (Ebbinghaus, 1885). Ebbinghaus proposed that humans remember information in a linear fashion, which he called the serial position effect. He found an individual’s ability to remember information in a list (e.g. a grocery list, a chores list, or a to-do list) depends on the location of an item on the list. Specifically, he found that items toward the top of the list and items toward the bottom of the list tended to have the highest recall rates. The serial position effect finds that information at the beginning of a list (primacy) and information at the end of the list (recency) are easier to recall than information in the middle of the list.

So what does this have to do with conclusions? A lot! Ray Ehrensberger wanted to test Ebbinghaus’ serial position effect in public speaking. Ehrensberger created an experiment that rearranged the ordering of a speech to determine the recall of information (Ehrensberger, 1945). Ehrensberger’s study reaffirmed the importance of primacy and recency when listening to speeches. In fact, Ehrensberger found that the information delivered during the conclusion (recency) had the highest level of recall overall.

Steps of a Conclusion

Old concrete steps

Matthew Culnane – Steps – CC BY-SA 2.0.

In the previous sections, we discussed the importance a conclusion has on a speech. In this section, we’re going to examine the three steps to building an effective conclusion.

Restatement of the Thesis

Restating a thesis statement is the first step to a powerful conclusion. As we explained earlier, a thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. When we restate the thesis statement at the conclusion of our speech, we’re attempting to reemphasize what the overarching main idea of the speech has been. Suppose your thesis statement was, “I will analyze Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his July 2008 speech, ‘A World That Stands as One.’” You could restate the thesis in this fashion at the conclusion of your speech: “In the past few minutes, I have analyzed Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his July 2008 speech, ‘A World That Stands as One.’” Notice the shift in tense. The statement has gone from the future tense (this is what I will speak about) to the past tense (this is what I have spoken about). Restating the thesis in your conclusion reminds the audience of the main purpose or goal of your speech, helping them remember it better.

Review of Main Points

After restating the speech’s thesis, the second step in a powerful conclusion is to review the main points from your speech. One of the biggest differences between written and oral communication is the necessity of repetition in oral communication. When we preview our main points in the introduction, effectively discuss and make transitions to our main points during the body of the speech, and review the main points in the conclusion, we increase the likelihood that the audience will retain our main points after the speech is over.

In the introduction of a speech, we deliver a preview of our main body points, and in the conclusion, we deliver a review . Let’s look at a sample preview:

In order to understand the field of gender and communication, I will first differentiate between the terms biological sex and gender. I will then explain the history of gender research in communication. Lastly, I will examine a series of important findings related to gender and communication.

In this preview, we have three clear main points. Let’s see how we can review them at the conclusion of our speech:

Today, we have differentiated between the terms biological sex and gender, examined the history of gender research in communication, and analyzed a series of research findings on the topic.
In the past few minutes, I have explained the difference between the terms “biological sex” and “gender,” discussed the rise of gender research in the field of communication, and examined a series of groundbreaking studies in the field.

Notice that both of these conclusions review the main points initially set forth. Both variations are equally effective reviews of the main points, but you might like the linguistic turn of one over the other. Remember, while there is a lot of science to help us understand public speaking, there’s also a lot of art as well. You are always encouraged to choose the wording that you think will be most effective for your audience.

Concluding Device

The final part of a powerful conclusion is the concluding device. A concluding device is a final thought you want your audience members to have when you stop speaking. It also provides a definitive sense of closure to your speech. One of the authors of this text often makes an analogy between a gymnastics dismount and the concluding device in a speech. Just as a gymnast dismounting the parallel bars or balance beam wants to stick the landing and avoid taking two or three steps, a speaker wants to “stick” the ending of the presentation by ending with a concluding device instead of with, “Well, umm, I guess I’m done.” Miller observed that speakers tend to use one of ten concluding devices when ending a speech (Miller, 1946). The rest of this section is going to examine these ten concluding devices and one additional device that we have added.

Conclude with a Challenge

The first way that Miller found that some speakers end their speeches is with a challenge. A challenge is a call to engage in some activity that requires a special effort. In a speech on the necessity of fund-raising, a speaker could conclude by challenging the audience to raise 10 percent more than their original projections. In a speech on eating more vegetables, you could challenge your audience to increase their current intake of vegetables by two portions daily. In both of these challenges, audience members are being asked to go out of their way to do something different that involves effort on their part.

Conclude with a Quotation

A second way you can conclude a speech is by reciting a quotation relevant to the speech topic. When using a quotation, you need to think about whether your goal is to end on a persuasive note or an informative note. Some quotations will have a clear call to action, while other quotations summarize or provoke thought. For example, let’s say you are delivering an informative speech about dissident writers in the former Soviet Union. You could end by citing this quotation from Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country. And for that reason, no regime has ever loved great writers” (Solzhenitsyn, 1964). Notice that this quotation underscores the idea of writers as dissidents, but it doesn’t ask listeners to put forth the effort to engage in any specific thought process or behavior. If, on the other hand, you were delivering a persuasive speech urging your audience to participate in a very risky political demonstration, you might use this quotation from Martin Luther King Jr.: “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live” (King, 1963). In this case, the quotation leaves the audience with the message that great risks are worth taking, that they make our lives worthwhile, and that the right thing to do is to go ahead and take that great risk.

Conclude with a Summary

When a speaker ends with a summary, they are simply elongating the review of the main points. While this may not be the most exciting concluding device, it can be useful for information that was highly technical or complex or for speeches lasting longer than thirty minutes. Typically, for short speeches (like those in your class), this summary device should be avoided.

Conclude by Visualizing the Future

The purpose of a conclusion that refers to the future is to help your audience imagine the future you believe can occur. If you are giving a speech on the development of video games for learning, you could conclude by depicting the classroom of the future where video games are perceived as true learning tools and how those tools could be utilized. More often, speakers use visualization of the future to depict how society would be, or how individual listeners’ lives would be different if the speaker’s persuasive attempt worked. For example, if a speaker proposes that a solution to illiteracy is hiring more reading specialists in public schools, the speaker could ask her or his audience to imagine a world without illiteracy. In this use of visualization, the goal is to persuade people to adopt the speaker’s point of view. By showing that the speaker’s vision of the future is a positive one, the conclusion should help to persuade the audience to help create this future.

Conclude with an Appeal for Action

Probably the most common persuasive concluding device is the appeal for action or the call to action. In essence, the appeal for action occurs when a speaker asks their audience to engage in a specific behavior or change in thinking. When a speaker concludes by asking the audience “to do” or “to think” in a specific manner, the speaker wants to see an actual change. Whether the speaker appeals for people to eat more fruit, buy a car, vote for a candidate, oppose the death penalty, or sing more in the shower, the speaker is asking the audience to engage in action.

One specific type of appeal for action is the immediate call to action. Whereas some appeals ask for people to engage in behavior in the future, an immediate call to action asks people to engage in behavior right now. If a speaker wants to see a new traffic light placed at a dangerous intersection, he or she may conclude by asking all the audience members to sign a digital petition right then and there, using a computer the speaker has made available ( http://www.petitiononline.com ). Here are some more examples of immediate calls to action:

  • In a speech on eating more vegetables, pass out raw veggies and dip at the conclusion of the speech.
  • In a speech on petitioning a lawmaker for a new law, provide audience members with a prewritten e-mail they can send to the lawmaker.
  • In a speech on the importance of using hand sanitizer, hand out little bottles of hand sanitizer and show audience members how to correctly apply the sanitizer.
  • In a speech asking for donations for a charity, send a box around the room asking for donations.

These are just a handful of different examples we’ve seen students use in our classrooms to elicit an immediate change in behavior. These immediate calls to action may not lead to long-term change, but they can be very effective at increasing the likelihood that an audience will change behavior in the short term.

Conclude by Inspiration

By definition, the word inspire means to affect or connect with someone emotionally. Both affect and arouse have strong emotional connotations. The ultimate goal of an inspiration concluding device is similar to an “appeal for action,” but the ultimate goal is more lofty or ambiguous. The goal is to stir someone’s emotions in a specific manner. Maybe a speaker is giving an informative speech about the prevalence of domestic violence in our society today. That speaker could end the speech by reading Paulette Kelly’s powerful poem “I Got Flowers Today.” “I Got Flowers Today” is a poem that evokes strong emotions because it’s about an abuse victim who received flowers from her abuser every time she was victimized. The poem ends by saying, “I got flowers today… Today was a special day. It was the day of my funeral. Last night he killed me” (Kelly, 1994).

Conclude with Advice

The next concluding device is one that should be used primarily by speakers who are recognized as expert authorities on a given subject. Advice is a speaker’s opinion about what should or should not be done. The problem with opinions is that everyone has one, and one person’s opinion is not necessarily any more correct than another’s. There needs to be a really good reason for your opinion. Your advice should matter to your audience. If, for example, you are an expert in nuclear physics, you might conclude a speech on energy by giving advice about the benefits of nuclear energy.

Conclude by Proposing a Solution

Another way a speaker can conclude a speech powerfully is to offer a solution to the problem discussed within a speech. For example, perhaps a speaker has been discussing the problems associated with the disappearance of art education in the United States. The speaker could then propose a solution for creating more community-based art experiences for school children as a way to fill this gap. Although this can be a compelling conclusion, a speaker must ask themselves whether the solution should be discussed in more depth as a stand-alone main point within the body of the speech so that audience concerns about the proposed solution may be addressed.

Conclude with a Question

Another way you can end a speech is to ask a rhetorical question that forces the audience to ponder an idea. Maybe you are giving a speech on the importance of the environment, so you end the speech by saying, “Think about your children’s future. What kind of world do you want them raised in? A world that is clean, vibrant, and beautiful—or one that is filled with smog, pollution, filth, and disease?” Notice that you aren’t asking the audience to verbally or nonverbally answer the question. The goal of this question is to force the audience into thinking about what kind of world they want for their children.

Conclude with a Reference to Audience

The last concluding device discussed by Miller (1946) was a reference to one’s audience. This concluding device is when a speaker attempts to answer the audience question, “What’s in it for me?” The goal of this concluding device is to spell out the direct benefits a behavior or thought change has for audience members. For example, a speaker talking about stress reduction techniques could conclude by listing all the physical health benefits stress reduction offers (e.g. improved reflexes, improved immune system, improved hearing, reduction in blood pressure). In this case, the speaker is spelling out why audience members should care. They’re telling the audience what’s in it for them!

Connect to your Introduction

Finally, one tactic a speaker often uses is to link the introduction of the speech to the conclusion.  For example, if you began your speech with a quotation, your conclusion may refer back to that person’s words in respect to what your audience has learned throughout your speech.  While not always necessary, linking back to your introduction can provide a feeling of coming full circle for your audience.  The repetitive nature can also help aid in remembering your speech and topic.  However, you don’t want to just repeat. Instead, you want to utilize similar aspects of your attention getter to illustrate growth or movement from the beginning of your speech to the end.

A concluding device is a final thought you want your audience members to have when you stop speaking.

A challenge is a call to engage in some activity that requires special effort.

An  appeal for action occurs when a speaker asks their audience to engage in a specific behavior or change in thinking.

An immediate call to action asks people to engage in behavior right now.

Inspire means to affect or connect with someone emotionally.

Advice is a speaker’s opinion about what should or should not be done.

Informative versus Persuasive Conclusions

As you read through the ten possible ways to conclude a speech, hopefully, you noticed that some of the methods are more appropriate for persuasive speeches and others are more appropriate for informative speeches. To help you choose appropriate conclusions for informative, persuasive, or entertaining speeches, we’ve created a table to help you quickly identify suitable concluding devices.

Your Speech Purpose and Concluding Devices

Types of Concluding Devices General Purposes of Speeches
Challenge x
Quotation x x
Summary x x
Visualizing the Future x x
Appeal x
Inspirational x x
Advice x
Proposal of Solution x
Question x x
Reference to Audience x

Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology [Online version]. Retrieved from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Ebbinghaus/index.htm .

Ehrensberger, R. (1945). An experimental study of the relative effectiveness of certain forms of emphasis in public speaking. Speech Monographs, 12 , 94–111. doi: 10.1080/03637754509390108.

Kelly, P. (1994). I got flowers today. In C. J. Palmer & J. Palmer, Fire from within . Painted Post, NY: Creative Arts & Science Enterprises.

King, M. L. (1963, June 23). Speech in Detroit. Cited in Bartlett, J., & Kaplan, J. (Eds.), Bartlett’s familiar quotations (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., p. 760.

Miller, E. (1946). Speech introductions and conclusions. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 32 , 181–183.

Solzhenitsyn, A. (1964). The first circle. New York: Harper & Row. Cited in Bartlett, J., & Kaplan, J. (Eds.), Bartlett’s familiar quotations (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., p. 746.

Stand up, Speak out Copyright © 2017 by Josh Miller; Marnie Lawler-Mcdonough; Megan Orcholski; Kristin Woodward; Lisa Roth; and Emily Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Ronny Leber

7 ways for opening a speech! The ideal speech introduction to grab your audience’s attention

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Maybe you know this: you may or must give a speech, but how do you start? Whether you’re giving a speech as an employer or to your colleagues, or you’re an external keynote speaker, the principles are always the same. Likewise, your preparation is not much different: whether it’s a keynote at a kick-off event , the festive speech at the company Christmas party , a motivational speech at a team event or even a laudatory speech at an awards ceremony – the search for the right begining should not be left to chance.

How do you get your audience’s attention so that they want to listen and can follow you easily? How do you sound interesting? In this article you will get the necessary tips for your ideal start for your next speech to inspire your audience. I have collected these speech introductions and examples in my work in the field of public speaking as a presenter and keynote speaker in front of over 5 million people.

Why is the beginning, i.e. the first few minutes of a presentation, so important? This is where the first impression is being made. Your audience intuitively decides within a few seconds whether they like the speaker and want to follow. After that, you still have up to three minutes to pick up your audience with the content of your speech.

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The first impression is crucial for further success

There’s a saying that goes, “ There’s no second chance for a first impression. ” It takes between 100 milliseconds and 7 seconds for your audience to get the same impression of you. If you as a speaker fail to make that first impression, no matter how impressive your speech, it will be very difficult to pick up your audience. 

US comedian Jerry Seinfeld , one of the most famous American comedians of the 90s, said that his fame only gives him a starting bonus for the first three minutes – at the latest then he has to deliver. If you don’t enjoy the celebrity bonus in your speeches, that means you have to deliver right from the get go to win over your audience.

Requirements for the ideal introduction for your speech

Before you can wow people as a speaker and give any thought to content, you need to set the stage. If you want to give a good speech and move your audience from A to B, two things are essential: you need to know where you want to go and where your audience is coming from .

Know the outcome of your speech

If you don’t know in which direction you want to move your audience, then no amount of tips will get you there. So before you tinker with the ideal introduction, you need to be clear about what your outcome is .

Know the outcome of your speech

 What feeling do you want the audience to have when you leave the stage? What impression do you want to convey as a speaker? Even more public speaking tips you can find here.

Know your audience members

If you want to catch a fish, you have to use a bait that tastes good to the fish, not to the fisherman . The same applies to presentations: who decides what is a top speech? That is, of course, in the eye of your audience. Therefore, it is all the more important to know who the people are, listening to your speech. 

Know your audience members

An American proverb says that your audience doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Your audience won’t pay attention to you until they see that your speech is relevant to them. As a speaker, do you bring examples and tips and answer questions in your main points that matter to the audience? Do your main ideas strike a cord?

Tip: Try to find out as much as possible to know in advance what moves your audience and why people are here today. If you have the opportunity, use the time for successful networking and listen to their needs.

The goal of an ideal introduction to your speech

Only after you know your outcome and your audience you can focus on how to start your presentation, because now you know as a speaker in which direction your ship should sail. If you want to give a speech, you need to get your audience interested in you and your main points. For this to happen, you need the attention of your audience.

Speaker Tip: First create attention , then develop interest in your message and your main points to make it worth listening for your audience.

Giving a speech: seven perfect speech introductions

Now let’s look at tips and examples of how you as a speaker can inspire your audience. These tips should give you a guideline from where you can successfully transition from your chosen introduction to the main part and final part of your speech.

1. He who asks, leads – starting with a question

An elegant way to begin a speech is with a question . The goal is to engage your listener directly in your opening and generate interest. In order for the question to be effective, it must be tailored to your target audience. The question may be provocative, surprising or even make you smile, but it must be relevant.

starting with a question

For example, if you’re speaking to a group of retirees, a question like “Which one of you went to a disco last weekend?” would be just as out of place as asking a group of Wall street brokers “Which one of you has been involved in stocks?”. Your audience needs to feel like you know who you’re dealing with.

“Who remembers what they did last Saturday night?” was an opening I chose many years ago when giving a speech. Of course, after that, there was a story about my Saturday night that fit right in with the theme of my speech. People were immediately involved and everyone was thinking. Because just about everybody did something last Saturday and so it was relevant… even if many didn’t even remember it. 

With questions that fit the topics, you are sure to get the attention of the participants. However, always pay attention to what you trigger in your audience with a question and, if requested, also provide the appropriate answer.

Another speaking tip: When you ask a question, give your audience time to respond . Whether out loud, with a show of hands, or silently, people need time for what you say to have an impact. Of course, questions can also be used during your speech.

2. Start your speech with a quote

Using the words of another person in your speech is a proven way. The art of building a good speech is to pick up your audience where they are. A pointed quote that gets to the heart of your ideas or the occasion is the basic premise for choosing someone else’s statement as your lead-in. If people are familiar with the name of the person you are quoting, it gives you added credibility as a speaker.

Very similar to a quote is using a proverb to start your speech. Again, there is often a deeper wisdom behind it. Link this to the idea of your speech and you have a great introduction.

Again, I’ll give you an example from my own experience when I was asked to give a presentation on the topic of corporate mission statements many years ago. I decided to start with a quote, but the number of quotes on this topic are manageable. However, the corporate mission statement compares very well with the soul for people, and so on this occasion I found a quote on the subject of the soul and then drew the analogy with the corporate mission statement. “Outside the box” solutions are also the speaker’s friend. 

3. Inspire your audience with storytelling

A particularly powerful way to start is to share a story or personal real life experience with your audience at the beginning of your presentation. With a personal story, you create compelling moments and build an emotional connection with your audience. However, this is also where the biggest danger lies: your story must absolutely correspond to the facts and at the same time should have a connection to the topic of the event. The audience has a good nose for it, if you serve them a “suitably made” story.

Storytelling

Of course, storytelling is not limited to stories you have experienced yourself. You can also draw on a current or even historical event. Important, as mentioned above, is the connection to the goal of your presentation. Also, make sure that you start right in the relevant event and do not begin with Adam and Eve. Especially extroverted people like to get into narration and then it can happen that you lose the drive to your actual presentation and your audience is no longer on the point.

One of my stage coaching clients, for example, took his audience into a situation right at the beginning of his speech when he was at the start of his first triathlon. He immediately built up a tension, because he put his audience directly into it instead of talking about preparation and planning for the triathlon. Because he also found the right tone, the speech went down great. Bonus tip for your speech: Stories absolutely need to be rehearsed and tailored to your audience and the occasion. This does not mean, as already mentioned, that you add things, but that you leave out unnecessary things. Don’t just tell from memory, but really practice.

4. Start with an open loop

Starting with an open loop is something like the supreme discipline. Here, you start with a story, but don’t finish telling it until the end of your speech . This type of introduction is certainly a bit unusual and, in my opinion, more suitable for experienced speakers, especially to keep the tension high.

You start with the open loop in the same way as with storytelling and take your audience along until the point where the tension is at its highest. Instead of the resolution, you lead into the topic of your speech and then come to the main part, where the content is presented with further examples. Only at the end do you pick up the ball of your introductory story again and close the open loop.

As an example, I start one of my keynote speeches with such an open loop: I take the audience on my experience at the New York City Marathon. Since my preparation for it was far from ideal due to injuries, I wasn’t sure until the start how far I would run that day. My speech started with the thoughts going through my head at the start, with my uncertainty but also anticipation. The start of the marathon was then the Open Loop, which I only resolved at the end of the speech.

5. Enchant the audience with parables

A parable is a very short to short story which might not even have a plot of its own. While a parable can be told with action, as if something has actually taken place, it can also be about something hypothetical: “Imagine…” or “Suppose…”. In both cases, the point is that we want to make a connection to the content. 

The purpose of parables is to pick up the audience as they enter your presentation and provide an emotional experience that immediately introduces them to the topic through your words.

6. Facts, figures and statistics as an introduction for the speech

The FFS introduction is particularly useful if you have facts, figures or statistics that are not familiar to your audience and are also unusual. In addition, it must of course fit your topic and possibly support your thesis. A personalized statistic works best to meet your audience’s needs.

Figures Data Facts

When we were designing the outline for one of my Executive Legacy Coaching clients’ investor pitch, we made a conscious decision to start with a number that would probably come as a surprise to many listeners. To back up the pain point that his product solves, he asked the panel how much they thought that an unhappy employee costs a company per year. Starting with that number was so effective because the audience’s estimates were all substantially lower than the true number, creating an a-ha effect.

7. Looking back

Another way to start your speech is with a look back . This variant is particularly suitable if you are to give a speech on the occasion of an anniversary or birthday. In your preparation, you should pay special attention to who is sitting in your audience: what connection do they have to the person or the company or the occasion and, above all, have they experienced the period themselves.

Some time ago, I had the privilege of being on stage at a company’s 20th anniversary. In order to give the audience as emotional an experience as possible, I first had to find out who was in the audience. Have people lived through these last 20 years, and are they likely to remember the moment from 20 years ago? Since my audience was mostly over 35 years old I assumed that was the case. Thus I dove into the world of 20 years ago: how did the world look and what moved people at the time? Immediately the people were in the emotions of the memories and from that I could then draw a bow to the company anniversary: “much has changed, but one thing has remained the same…”.

Giving a speech: here’s what you should avoid when getting started

Jokes are for comedians.

There are talented joke tellers and there are those who always flub the punch line. If you feel uncomfortable in the role of the joker, don’t do it. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t spice up the introduction with a little humor. Humor arouses positive emotions and loosens the atmosphere. A humorous introduction, which also works without a joke, signals to the participants that the event will not be dry as dust and that it is worth staying for.

Bonus tip: Humor is different in different regions and works best when you approach your audience with respect and humility.

Stay away from provocative introductions

A provocative introduction is like riding on a razor blade: very dangerous. You have to have an incredible ace up your sleeve to win your audience back. As a rule, I would strongly advise you not to use provocative introductions. If your audience perceives you as an unsympathetic person, no matter how ingenious the content of your speech, it will not bring the desired success.

Start with an apology

Some insecure speaker starts his speech with an apology for his insecurity or God knows what else. Please don’t do that. For one thing, the audience usually doesn’t notice it anyway, and for another, it immediately takes something away from your first impression. You might get sympathy for it, but in the rarest cases you will get the attention for your speech.

Mit der Entschuldigung beginnen

One of the most important tips I once received was that your audience wants you to win . That’s right, you read that correctly. Your audience wants you to be good. No one sits in the audience hoping for a boring speaker to come on now. Your audience wants you to do your job well. If you feel anxiety on the way to the stage, keep reading.

The way to the stage and the first seconds

The key to a perfect introduction lies not only in the preparation for your speech, but also in the emotional preparation in the moments before public speaking. Especially if you are nervous or even feel speech anxiety , it is even more important that you, to present convincingly, are in an ideal state.

Take a deep breath just before your performance, send positive emotions to your audience and off you go. Many speakers also like to take index cards with their notes to be prepared in case of an emergency. The phrase for the introduction as well as for the conclusion I would always write in full. For the main points, keywords are enough here.

When you finally arrive on stage, at first be aware of your audience . Before you begin, start with eye contact and confident body language to radiate stage presence . Only then, when you feel the attention of your audience, you start to talk. This confidence will automatically boost your credibility.

Bonus tip: if you’re unsure about your voice, a little voice training will help.

The ideal start for your virtual speech

Of course, the principles for your ideal start also apply at virtual events. So if you hold a webinar or a virtual presentation or are on stage at a hybrid event , nothing will change in the structure of your preparation. The main point in the virtual space is that you have to speak in front of the camera and this should be practiced. The specific elements of structuring your presentation stay the same.

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Feeling ready for your next speech?

In this article you have learned how to start your speech in an ideal way. Do you already have an idea which structure you like best? Remember that you always start with your outcome and your audience before you create a thread for your presentation.

Bereit für die nächste Rede

The tone makes the music. Former American writer Maya Angelou summed it up this way: “Your audience won’t remember exactly what you said, but they’ll always remember how it made them feel.” Whatever the occasion, take your audience on an emotional journey.

If you feel that you still need help for your next speech or keynote , feel free to contact me  or just write me an e-mail ! Together many things are easier.

Which introduction appeals to you the most? Which start to a speech have you learned about here and would like to try out for your next performance? Please leave a comment below and share this article with someone who you think will profit from it. All the best for your next speeches.

There is no second chance for a first impression . The first impression is created in the first few seconds of perception and is crucial to whether your audience perceives you as likeable or unlikeable. If you mess up the first impression, the next few minutes will be a steep uphill climb to get the audience back on your side.

First, take three deep breaths and consciously put a smile on your face. Stand up straight, shoulders back, head up and visualize your audience and your goal. The important thing here is to move as quickly as possible from an internal focus (thinking about you) to an external focus (thinking about your audience). Imagine how your audience will benefit from your speech. For even more tips, I recommend you read my blog post Persuasive presentations: 3 Steps to Your Ideal State in Front of an Audience.

Ideally, you were introduced by a presenter who has also given some interesting background information about you to the audience. However, it always makes sense to leave nothing to chance here and, on the one hand, to discuss your introduction with the presenter upfront and, on the other hand, to include the most important points in your speech. I would always start with an introduction into the topic to get the audience interested and then introduce myself. The best way to find the right introduction is to read this article.

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9.3 Putting It Together: Steps to Complete Your Introduction

Learning objectives.

  • Clearly identify why an audience should listen to a speaker.
  • Discuss how you can build your credibility during a speech.
  • Understand how to write a clear thesis statement.
  • Design an effective preview of your speech’s content for your audience.

Puzzle pieces

Erin Brown-John – puzzle – CC BY-NC 2.0.

Once you have captured your audience’s attention, it’s important to make the rest of your introduction interesting, and use it to lay out the rest of the speech. In this section, we are going to explore the five remaining parts of an effective introduction: linking to your topic, reasons to listen, stating credibility, thesis statement, and preview.

Link to Topic

After the attention-getter, the second major part of an introduction is called the link to topic. The link to topic is the shortest part of an introduction and occurs when a speaker demonstrates how an attention-getting device relates to the topic of a speech. Often the attention-getter and the link to topic are very clear. For example, if you look at the attention-getting device example under historical reference above, you’ll see that the first sentence brings up the history of the Vietnam War and then shows us how that war can help us understand the Iraq War. In this case, the attention-getter clearly flows directly to the topic. However, some attention-getters need further explanation to get to the topic of the speech. For example, both of the anecdote examples (the girl falling into the manhole while texting and the boy and the filberts) need further explanation to connect clearly to the speech topic (i.e., problems of multitasking in today’s society).

Let’s look at the first anecdote example to demonstrate how we could go from the attention-getter to the topic.

In July 2009, a high school girl named Alexa Longueira was walking along a main boulevard near her home on Staten Island, New York, typing in a message on her cell phone. Not paying attention to the world around her, she took a step and fell right into an open manhole. This anecdote illustrates the problem that many people are facing in today’s world. We are so wired into our technology that we forget to see what’s going on around us—like a big hole in front of us.

In this example, the third sentence here explains that the attention-getter was an anecdote that illustrates a real issue. The fourth sentence then introduces the actual topic of the speech.

Let’s now examine how we can make the transition from the parable or fable attention-getter to the topic:

The ancient Greek writer Aesop told a fable about a boy who put his hand into a pitcher of filberts. The boy grabbed as many of the delicious nuts as he possibly could. But when he tried to pull them out, his hand wouldn’t fit through the neck of the pitcher because he was grasping so many filberts. Instead of dropping some of them so that his hand would fit, he burst into tears and cried about his predicament. The moral of the story? “Don’t try to do too much at once.” In today’s world, many of us are us are just like the boy putting his hand into the pitcher. We are constantly trying to grab so much or do so much that it prevents us from accomplishing our goals. I would like to show you three simple techniques to manage your time so that you don’t try to pull too many filberts from your pitcher.

In this example, we added three new sentences to the attention-getter to connect it to the speech topic.

Reasons to Listen

Once you have linked an attention-getter to the topic of your speech, you need to explain to your audience why your topic is important. We call this the “why should I care?” part of your speech because it tells your audience why the topic is directly important to them. Sometimes you can include the significance of your topic in the same sentence as your link to the topic, but other times you may need to spell out in one or two sentences why your specific topic is important.

People in today’s world are very busy, and they do not like their time wasted. Nothing is worse than having to sit through a speech that has nothing to do with you. Imagine sitting through a speech about a new software package you don’t own and you will never hear of again. How would you react to the speaker? Most of us would be pretty annoyed at having had our time wasted in this way. Obviously, this particular speaker didn’t do a great job of analyzing her or his audience if the audience isn’t going to use the software package—but even when speaking on a topic that is highly relevant to the audience, speakers often totally forget to explain how and why it is important.

Appearing Credible

The next part of a speech is not so much a specific “part” as an important characteristic that needs to be pervasive throughout your introduction and your entire speech. As a speaker, you want to be seen as credible (competent, trustworthy, and caring/having goodwill). As mentioned earlier in this chapter, credibility is ultimately a perception that is made by your audience. While your audience determines whether they perceive you as competent, trustworthy, and caring/having goodwill, there are some strategies you can employ to make yourself appear more credible.

First, to make yourself appear competent, you can either clearly explain to your audience why you are competent about a given subject or demonstrate your competence by showing that you have thoroughly researched a topic by including relevant references within your introduction. The first method of demonstrating competence—saying it directly—is only effective if you are actually a competent person on a given subject. If you are an undergraduate student and you are delivering a speech about the importance of string theory in physics, unless you are a prodigy of some kind, you are probably not a recognized expert on the subject. Conversely, if your number one hobby in life is collecting memorabilia about the Three Stooges, then you may be an expert about the Three Stooges. However, you would need to explain to your audience your passion for collecting Three Stooges memorabilia and how this has made you an expert on the topic.

If, on the other hand, you are not actually a recognized expert on a topic, you need to demonstrate that you have done your homework to become more knowledgeable than your audience about your topic. The easiest way to demonstrate your competence is through the use of appropriate references from leading thinkers and researchers on your topic. When you demonstrate to your audience that you have done your homework, they are more likely to view you as competent.

The second characteristic of credibility, trustworthiness, is a little more complicated than competence, for it ultimately relies on audience perceptions. One way to increase the likelihood that a speaker will be perceived as trustworthy is to use reputable sources. If you’re quoting Dr. John Smith, you need to explain who Dr. John Smith is so your audience will see the quotation as being more trustworthy. As speakers we can easily manipulate our sources into appearing more credible than they actually are, which would be unethical. When you are honest about your sources with your audience, they will trust you and your information more so than when you are ambiguous. The worst thing you can do is to out-and-out lie about information during your speech. Not only is lying highly unethical, but if you are caught lying, your audience will deem you untrustworthy and perceive everything you are saying as untrustworthy. Many speakers have attempted to lie to an audience because it will serve their own purposes or even because they believe their message is in their audience’s best interest, but lying is one of the fastest ways to turn off an audience and get them to distrust both the speaker and the message.

The third characteristic of credibility to establish during the introduction is the sense of caring/goodwill. While some unethical speakers can attempt to manipulate an audience’s perception that the speaker cares, ethical speakers truly do care about their audiences and have their audience’s best interests in mind while speaking. Often speakers must speak in front of audiences that may be hostile toward the speaker’s message. In these cases, it is very important for the speaker to explain that he or she really does believe her or his message is in the audience’s best interest. One way to show that you have your audience’s best interests in mind is to acknowledge disagreement from the start:

Today I’m going to talk about why I believe we should enforce stricter immigration laws in the United States. I realize that many of you will disagree with me on this topic. I used to believe that open immigration was a necessity for the United States to survive and thrive, but after researching this topic, I’ve changed my mind. While I may not change all of your minds today, I do ask that you listen with an open mind, set your personal feelings on this topic aside, and judge my arguments on their merits.

While clearly not all audience members will be open or receptive to opening their minds and listening to your arguments, by establishing that there is known disagreement, you are telling the audience that you understand their possible views and are not trying to attack their intellect or their opinions.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. A strong, clear thesis statement is very valuable within an introduction because it lays out the basic goal of the entire speech. We strongly believe that it is worthwhile to invest some time in framing and writing a good thesis statement. You may even want to write your thesis statement before you even begin conducting research for your speech. While you may end up rewriting your thesis statement later, having a clear idea of your purpose, intent, or main idea before you start searching for research will help you focus on the most appropriate material. To help us understand thesis statements, we will first explore their basic functions and then discuss how to write a thesis statement.

Basic Functions of a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement helps your audience by letting them know “in a nutshell” what you are going to talk about. With a good thesis statement you will fulfill four basic functions: you express your specific purpose, provide a way to organize your main points, make your research more effective, and enhance your delivery.

Express Your Specific Purpose

To orient your audience, you need to be as clear as possible about your meaning. A strong thesis will prepare your audience effectively for the points that will follow. Here are two examples:

  • “Today, I want to discuss academic cheating.” (weak example)
  • “Today, I will clarify exactly what plagiarism is and give examples of its different types so that you can see how it leads to a loss of creative learning interaction.” (strong example)

The weak statement will probably give the impression that you have no clear position about your topic because you haven’t said what that position is. Additionally, the term “academic cheating” can refer to many behaviors—acquiring test questions ahead of time, copying answers, changing grades, or allowing others to do your coursework—so the specific topic of the speech is still not clear to the audience.

The strong statement not only specifies plagiarism but also states your specific concern (loss of creative learning interaction).

Provide a Way to Organize Your Main Points

A thesis statement should appear, almost verbatim, toward the end of the introduction to a speech. A thesis statement helps the audience get ready to listen to the arrangement of points that follow. Many speakers say that if they can create a strong thesis sentence, the rest of the speech tends to develop with relative ease. On the other hand, when the thesis statement is not very clear, creating a speech is an uphill battle.

When your thesis statement is sufficiently clear and decisive, you will know where you stand about your topic and where you intend to go with your speech. Having a clear thesis statement is especially important if you know a great deal about your topic or you have strong feelings about it. If this is the case for you, you need to know exactly what you are planning on talking about in order to fit within specified time limitations. Knowing where you are and where you are going is the entire point in establishing a thesis statement; it makes your speech much easier to prepare and to present.

Let’s say you have a fairly strong thesis statement, and that you’ve already brainstormed a list of information that you know about the topic. Chances are your list is too long and has no focus. Using your thesis statement, you can select only the information that (1) is directly related to the thesis and (2) can be arranged in a sequence that will make sense to the audience and will support the thesis. In essence, a strong thesis statement helps you keep useful information and weed out less useful information.

Make Your Research More Effective

If you begin your research with only a general topic in mind, you run the risk of spending hours reading mountains of excellent literature about your topic. However, mountains of literature do not always make coherent speeches. You may have little or no idea of how to tie your research all together, or even whether you should tie it together. If, on the other hand, you conduct your research with a clear thesis statement in mind, you will be better able to zero in only on material that directly relates to your chosen thesis statement. Let’s look at an example that illustrates this point:

Many traffic accidents involve drivers older than fifty-five.

While this statement may be true, you could find industrial, medical, insurance literature that can drone on ad infinitum about the details of all such accidents in just one year. Instead, focusing your thesis statement will help you narrow the scope of information you will be searching for while gathering information. Here’s an example of a more focused thesis statement:

Three factors contribute to most accidents involving drivers over fifty-five years of age: failing eyesight, slower reflexes, and rapidly changing traffic conditions.

This framing is somewhat better. This thesis statement at least provides three possible main points and some keywords for your electronic catalog search. However, if you want your audience to understand the context of older people at the wheel, consider something like:

Mature drivers over fifty-five years of age must cope with more challenging driving conditions than existed only one generation ago: more traffic moving at higher speeds, the increased imperative for quick driving decisions, and rapidly changing ramp and cloverleaf systems. Because of these challenges, I want my audience to believe that drivers over the age of sixty-five should be required to pass a driving test every five years.

This framing of the thesis provides some interesting choices. First, several terms need to be defined, and these definitions might function surprisingly well in setting the tone of the speech. Your definitions of words like “generation,” “quick driving decisions,” and “cloverleaf systems” could jolt your audience out of assumptions they have taken for granted as truth.

Second, the framing of the thesis provides you with a way to describe the specific changes as they have occurred between, say, 1970 and 2010. How much, and in what ways, have the volume and speed of traffic changed? Why are quick decisions more critical now? What is a “cloverleaf,” and how does any driver deal cognitively with exiting in the direction seemingly opposite to the desired one? Questions like this, suggested by your own thesis statement, can lead to a strong, memorable speech.

Enhance Your Delivery

When your thesis is not clear to you, your listeners will be even more clueless than you are—but if you have a good clear thesis statement, your speech becomes clear to your listeners. When you stand in front of your audience presenting your introduction, you can vocally emphasize the essence of your speech, expressed as your thesis statement. Many speakers pause for a half second, lower their vocal pitch slightly, slow down a little, and deliberately present the thesis statement, the one sentence that encapsulates its purpose. When this is done effectively, the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech is driven home for an audience.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Now that we’ve looked at why a thesis statement is crucial in a speech, let’s switch gears and talk about how we go about writing a solid thesis statement. A thesis statement is related to the general and specific purposes of a speech as we discussed them in Chapter 6 “Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic” .

Choose Your Topic

The first step in writing a good thesis statement was originally discussed in Chapter 6 “Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic” when we discussed how to find topics. Once you have a general topic, you are ready to go to the second step of creating a thesis statement.

Narrow Your Topic

One of the hardest parts of writing a thesis statement is narrowing a speech from a broad topic to one that can be easily covered during a five- to ten-minute speech. While five to ten minutes may sound like a long time to new public speakers, the time flies by very quickly when you are speaking. You can easily run out of time if your topic is too broad. To ascertain if your topic is narrow enough for a specific time frame, ask yourself three questions.

First, is your thesis statement narrow or is it a broad overgeneralization of a topic? An overgeneralization occurs when we classify everyone in a specific group as having a specific characteristic. For example, a speaker’s thesis statement that “all members of the National Council of La Raza are militant” is an overgeneralization of all members of the organization. Furthermore, a speaker would have to correctly demonstrate that all members of the organization are militant for the thesis statement to be proven, which is a very difficult task since the National Council of La Raza consists of millions of Hispanic Americans. A more appropriate thesis related to this topic could be, “Since the creation of the National Council of La Raza [NCLR] in 1968, the NCLR has become increasingly militant in addressing the causes of Hispanics in the United States.”

The second question to ask yourself when narrowing a topic is whether your speech’s topic is one clear topic or multiple topics. A strong thesis statement consists of only a single topic. The following is an example of a thesis statement that contains too many topics: “Medical marijuana, prostitution, and gay marriage should all be legalized in the United States.” Not only are all three fairly broad, but you also have three completely unrelated topics thrown into a single thesis statement. Instead of a thesis statement that has multiple topics, limit yourself to only one topic. Here’s an example of a thesis statement examining only one topic: “Today we’re going to examine the legalization and regulation of the oldest profession in the state of Nevada.” In this case, we’re focusing our topic to how one state has handled the legalization and regulation of prostitution.

The last question a speaker should ask when making sure a topic is sufficiently narrow is whether the topic has direction. If your basic topic is too broad, you will never have a solid thesis statement or a coherent speech. For example, if you start off with the topic “Barack Obama is a role model for everyone,” what do you mean by this statement? Do you think President Obama is a role model because of his dedication to civic service? Do you think he’s a role model because he’s a good basketball player? Do you think he’s a good role model because he’s an excellent public speaker? When your topic is too broad, almost anything can become part of the topic. This ultimately leads to a lack of direction and coherence within the speech itself. To make a cleaner topic, a speaker needs to narrow her or his topic to one specific area. For example, you may want to examine why President Obama is a good speaker.

Put Your Topic into a Sentence

Once you’ve narrowed your topic to something that is reasonably manageable given the constraints placed on your speech, you can then formalize that topic as a complete sentence. For example, you could turn the topic of President Obama’s public speaking skills into the following sentence: “Because of his unique sense of lyricism and his well-developed presentational skills, President Barack Obama is a modern symbol of the power of public speaking.” Once you have a clear topic sentence, you can start tweaking the thesis statement to help set up the purpose of your speech.

Add Your Argument, Viewpoint, or Opinion

This function only applies if you are giving a speech to persuade. If your topic is informative, your job is to make sure that the thesis statement is nonargumentative and focuses on facts. For example, in the preceding thesis statement we have a couple of opinion-oriented terms that should be avoided for informative speeches: “unique sense,” “well-developed,” and “power.” All three of these terms are laced with an individual’s opinion, which is fine for a persuasive speech but not for an informative speech. For informative speeches, the goal of a thesis statement is to explain what the speech will be informing the audience about, not attempting to add the speaker’s opinion about the speech’s topic. For an informative speech, you could rewrite the thesis statement to read, “This speech is going to analyze Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his speech, ‘A World That Stands as One,’ delivered July 2008 in Berlin.”

On the other hand, if your topic is persuasive, you want to make sure that your argument, viewpoint, or opinion is clearly indicated within the thesis statement. If you are going to argue that Barack Obama is a great speaker, then you should set up this argument within your thesis statement.

Use the Thesis Checklist

Once you have written a first draft of your thesis statement, you’re probably going to end up revising your thesis statement a number of times prior to delivering your actual speech. A thesis statement is something that is constantly tweaked until the speech is given. As your speech develops, often your thesis will need to be rewritten to whatever direction the speech itself has taken. We often start with a speech going in one direction, and find out through our research that we should have gone in a different direction. When you think you finally have a thesis statement that is good to go for your speech, take a second and make sure it adheres to the criteria shown in Table 9.1 “Thesis Checklist”

Table 9.1 Thesis Checklist

Instructions: For each of the following questions, check either “yes” or “no.” Yes No
1. Does your thesis clearly reflect the topic of your speech?
2. Can you adequately cover the topic indicated in your thesis within the time you have for your speech?
3. Is your thesis statement simple?
4. Is your thesis statement direct?
5. Does your thesis statement gain an audience’s interest?
6. Is your thesis statement easy to understand?
7. Does your thesis statement introduce a clear argument?
8. Does your thesis statement clearly indicate what your audience should do, how your audience should think, or how your audience should feel?
Scoring: For a strong thesis statement, all your answers should have been “yes.”

Preview of Speech

The final part of an introduction contains a preview of the major points to be covered within your speech. I’m sure we’ve all seen signs that have three cities listed on them with the mileage to reach each city. This mileage sign is an indication of what is to come. A preview works the same way. A preview foreshadows what the main body points will be in the speech. For example, to preview a speech on bullying in the workplace, one could say, “To understand the nature of bullying in the modern workplace, I will first define what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying, I will then discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets, and lastly, I will explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.” In this case, each of the phrases mentioned in the preview would be a single distinct point made in the speech itself. In other words, the first major body point in this speech would examine what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying; the second major body point in this speech would discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets; and lastly, the third body point in this speech would explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.

Key Takeaways

  • Linking the attention-getter to the speech topic is essential so that you maintain audience attention and so that the relevance of the attention-getter is clear to your audience.
  • Establishing how your speech topic is relevant and important shows the audience why they should listen to your speech.
  • To be an effective speaker, you should convey all three components of credibility, competence, trustworthiness, and caring/goodwill, by the content and delivery of your introduction.
  • A clear thesis statement is essential to provide structure for a speaker and clarity for an audience.
  • An effective preview identifies the specific main points that will be present in the speech body.
  • Make a list of the attention-getting devices you might use to give a speech on the importance of recycling. Which do you think would be most effective? Why?
  • Create a thesis statement for a speech related to the topic of collegiate athletics. Make sure that your thesis statement is narrow enough to be adequately covered in a five- to six-minute speech.
  • Discuss with a partner three possible body points you could utilize for the speech on the topic of volunteerism.
  • Fill out the introduction worksheet to help work through your introduction for your next speech. Please make sure that you answer all the questions clearly and concisely.

Stand up, Speak out Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Speech introductions

The introduction and conclusion of a speech are essential. The audience will remember the main ideas even if the middle of the speech is a mess or nerves overtake the speaker.  So if nothing else, get these parts down!

Introduction

The introduction gives the audience a reason to listen to the remainder of the speech. A good introduction needs to get the audience’s attention, state the topic, make the topic relatable, establish credibility, and preview the main points. Introductions should be the last part of the speech written, as they set expectations and need to match the content.

Attention getters

The first few sentences of a speech are designed to catch and maintain the audience’s attention. Attention getters give the audience a reason to listen to the rest of the speech. Your attention getter helps the audience understand and reflect on your topic.

  • Speaker walks up to stage with notes stuck to hands with jelly.
  • Did you know there is a right way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
  • Rob Gronkowski once said, “Usually, about 2 hours before a game, I stuff in a nice peanut butter and jelly [sandwich] with chocolate milk.”
  • A little boy walks in from a long day at school, telling his mom that he is starving. His mom is confused because she knows she sent him to school with a full lunch. As she opens his lunch box, she sees his peanut butter and jelly, with the grape jelly smeared on the side of the bag. She realizes there has to be a better way to make a PB&J.
  • Bring in a clear sandwich bag with jelly seeping through the bread of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Logical orientation

Once the audience is invested in the speech, logical orientation tells the audience how the speaker will approach and develop the topic.

  • Peanut butter on both sides of the bread with jelly in the middle is the best way to make a PB&J.
  • PB&Js have developed a bad reputation, because of the jelly making the bread soggy and hands sticky.

Psychological orientation

Like the logical orientation of a speech, the psychological orientation is also going to provide the audience with a map for how and why the topic is being presented.

  • Most of us remember our moms – dads too – packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in our lunches. We also remember how the jelly did not just stay in the sandwich, but became a new stain on our shirts and the glue that held all the playground dirt to our hands.
  • We can end this torture for future generations by making sure all parents are aware of the best way to make a PB&J.
  • I have eaten numerous PB&Js myself, but my real authority on the topic comes from being a mom of two boys and the maker of many PB&Js.

Both the logical and psychological orientations give the audience a road map for the speech ahead as well as cues for what to listen to. This will help the audience transition from the introduction to the main points of the speech.

Beebe, S. A., & Beebe, S. J. (2012). A concise public speaking handbook . Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Lucas, S. (2012). The art of public speaking . New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Sprague, J. & Stuart, D. (2013). The speaker's compact handbook, 4th ed . Portland: Ringgold, Inc.

Vrooman, S. S. (2013). The zombie guide to public speaking: Why most presentations fail, and what you can do to avoid joining the horde . Place of publication not identified: CreateSpace.

Status.net

How to Start a Speech: 7 Tips and Examples for a Captivating Opening

By Status.net Editorial Team on December 12, 2023 — 10 minutes to read

1. Choosing the Right Opening Line

Finding the perfect opening line for your speech is important in grabbing your audience’s attention. A strong opening line sets the stage for the points you want to make and helps you establish a connection with your listeners.

1. Start with a question

Engage your audience from the very beginning by asking them a thought-provoking question related to your topic. This approach encourages them to think, and it can create a sense of anticipation about what’s coming next.

  • “Have you ever wondered how much time we spend on our phones every day?”

2. Share a personal story

A relatable personal story can create an emotional connection with your audience. Make sure your story is short, relevant to your speech, and ends with a clear point.

  • “When I was a child, my grandmother used to tell me that every kind deed we do plants a seed of goodness in the world. It was this philosophy that inspired me to start volunteering.”

3. Use a quote or a statistic

Incorporate a powerful quote or an intriguing statistic at the outset of your speech to engage your audience and provide context for your topic.

  • “As the great Maya Angelou once said, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'”

4. Make them laugh

Injecting a little humor into your opening line puts everyone at ease and makes your speech more memorable. Just make sure your joke is relevant and doesn’t offend your audience.

  • “They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if the doctor is cute, forget the fruit!”

5. Paint a mental picture

Draw your audience in by describing a vivid scene or painting an illustration in their minds. This creates an immersive experience that makes it easier for your audience to follow your speech.

  • “Picture this: you’re walking down the beach, and you look out on the horizon. The sun is setting, and the sky is a breathtaking canvas of reds, oranges, and pinks.”

2. Using a Personal Story

Sharing a personal story can be a highly effective way to engage your audience from the very beginning of your speech. When you open your talk with a powerful, relatable story, it helps create an emotional connection with your listeners, making them more invested in what you have to say.

Think about an experience from your life that is relevant to the topic of your speech. Your story doesn’t have to be grand or dramatic, but it should be clear and vivid. Include enough detail to paint a picture in your audience’s minds, but keep it concise and on point.

The key to successfully using a personal story is to make it relatable. Choose a situation that your audience can empathize with or easily understand. For example, if you’re giving a speech about overcoming adversity, you could talk about a time where you faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge and overcame it.

Make sure to connect your story to the main point or theme of your speech. After sharing your experience, explain how it relates to the topic at hand, and let your audience see the relevance to their own lives. This will make your speech more impactful and show your listeners why your personal story holds meaning.

3. Making a Shocking Statement

Starting your speech with a shocking statement can instantly grab your audience’s attention. This technique works especially well when your speech topic relates to a hot-button issue or a controversial subject. Just make sure that the statement is relevant and true, as false claims may damage your credibility.

For example, “Believe it or not, 90% of startups fail during their first five years in the market.” This statement might surprise your listeners and make them more receptive to your ideas on how to avoid pitfalls and foster a successful business.

So next time you’re crafting a speech, consider opening with a powerful shocking statement. It could be just the thing to get your audience sitting up and paying full attention. (Try to keep your shocking statement relevant to your speech topic and factual to enhance your credibility.)

4. Using Humor

Humor can be an excellent way to break the ice and grab your audience’s attention. Opening your speech with a funny story or a joke can make a memorable first impression. Just be sure to keep it relevant to your topic and audience.

A good joke can set a light-hearted tone, lead into the importance of effective time management, and get your audience engaged from the start.

When using humor in your speech, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Be relatable: Choose a story or joke that your audience can easily relate to. It will be more engaging and connect your listeners to your message.
  • Keep it appropriate: Make sure the humor fits the occasion and audience. Stay away from controversial topics and avoid offending any particular group.
  • Practice your delivery: Timing and delivery are essential when telling a joke. Practice saying it out loud and adjust your pacing and tone of voice to ensure your audience gets the joke.
  • Go with the flow: If your joke flops or doesn’t get the reaction you were hoping for, don’t panic or apologize. Simply move on to the next part of your speech smoothly, and don’t let it shake your confidence.
  • Don’t overdo it: While humor can be useful in capturing your audience’s attention, remember that you’re not a stand-up comedian. Use it sparingly and focus on getting your message across clearly and effectively.

5. Incorporating a Quote

When you want to start your speech with a powerful quote, ensure that the quote is relevant to your topic. Choose a quote from a credible source, such as a famous historical figure, a well-known author, or a respected expert in your field. This will not only grab your audience’s attention but also establish your speech’s credibility.

For example, if you’re giving a speech about resilience, you might use this quote by Nelson Mandela: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Once you’ve found the perfect quote, integrate it smoothly into your speech’s introduction. You can briefly introduce the source of the quote, providing context for why their words are significant. For example:

Nelson Mandela, an inspirational leader known for his perseverance, once said: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

When you’re incorporating a quote in your speech, practice your delivery to ensure it has the intended impact. Focus on your tone, pace, and pronunciation. By doing so, you can convey the quote’s meaning effectively and connect with your audience emotionally.

Connect the quote to your main points by briefly explaining how it relates to the subject matter of your speech. By creating a natural transition from the quote to your topic, you can maintain your audience’s interest and set the stage for a compelling speech.

In our resilience example, this could look like:

“This quote by Mandela beautifully illustrates the power of resilience. Today, I want to share with you some stories of remarkable individuals who, like Mandela, overcame obstacles and rose every time they fell. Through their experiences, we might learn how to cultivate our own resilience and make the most of life’s challenges.”

6. Starting with a Question

Opening your speech with a question can be a great way to engage your audience from the start. This strategy encourages your listeners to think and become active participants in your presentation. Your opening question should be related to your core message, sparking their curiosity, and setting the stage for the following content. Here are a few examples:

  • For a motivational speech : “Have you ever wondered what you would do if you couldn’t fail?”
  • For a business presentation : “What’s the biggest challenge your team faces daily, and how can we overcome it?”
  • For an educational talk : “How does the way we use technology today impact the future of our society?”

When choosing the right starting question, consider your audience. You want to ask something that is relevant to their experiences and interests. The question should be interesting enough to draw their attention and resonate with their emotions. For instance, if you’re presenting to a group of entrepreneurs, gear your question towards entrepreneurship, and so on.

To boost your question’s impact, consider using rhetorical questions. These don’t require a verbal response, but get your audience thinking about their experiences or opinions. Here’s an example:

  • For an environmental speech : “What kind of world do we want to leave for our children?”

After posing your question, take a moment to let it sink in, and gauge the audience’s reaction. You can also use a brief pause to give the listeners time to think about their answers before moving on with your speech.

7. Acknowledging the Occasion

When starting a speech, you can acknowledge the occasion that brought everyone together. This helps create a connection with your audience and sets the stage for the rest of your speech. Make sure to mention the event name, its purpose, and any relevant individuals or groups you would like to thank for organizing it. For example:

“Hello everyone, and welcome to the 10th annual Charity Gala Dinner. I’m truly grateful to the fundraising committee for inviting me to speak tonight.”

After addressing the event itself, include a brief personal touch to show your connection with the topic or the audience. This helps the audience relate to you and gain interest in what you have to say. Here’s an example:

“As a long-time supporter of this cause, I am honored to share my thoughts on how we can continue making a difference in our community.”

Next, give a brief overview of your speech so the audience knows what to expect. This sets the context and helps them follow your points. You could say something like:

“Tonight, I’ll be sharing my experiences volunteering at the local food bank and discussing the impact of your generous donations.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some effective opening lines for speeches.

A powerful opening line will grab your audience’s attention and set the stage for the rest of your speech. Some effective opening lines include:

  • Start with a bold statement: “The world needs your creativity now more than ever.”
  • Share a surprising fact: “Did you know that the average person spends (…) years of their life at work?”
  • Pose a thought-provoking question: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
  • Tell a short, engaging story: “When I was 10 years old, I discovered my passion for baking in my grandmother’s kitchen.”

Can you provide examples of engaging introductions for speeches?

  • Use humor: “As a kid, I believed that 7 pm bedtime was a form of torture. Now, as an adult, I find myself dreaming of 7 pm bedtime.”
  • Share a personal experience: “On a trip to Italy, I found myself lost in the winding streets of a small village. It was there, amidst my confusion, that I stumbled upon the best gelato I’d ever tasted.”
  • Use an analogy: “Starting a new business is like taking a journey into the unknown. There will be challenges to overcome, and you’ll need resilience, determination, and a strong compass.”

Which speech styles can make a powerful impact on the audience?

Different speech styles will resonate with different audiences. Some styles to consider include:

  • Inspirational: Motivate your audience to take action or overcome challenges.
  • Storytelling: Share personal experiences or anecdotes to illustrate your points and keep listeners engaged.
  • Educational: Provide useful information and insights to help your audience learn or grow.
  • Persuasive: Present a compelling argument to convince your audience to adopt a particular perspective or take specific action.

How do successful speakers establish a connection with their listeners?

Establishing a connection with your listeners is key to delivering an impactful speech. Some ways to connect with your audience include:

  • Show empathy: Demonstrating understanding and concern for your audience’s feelings and experiences will generate a sense of trust and connection.
  • Be relatable: Share personal stories or examples that allow your audience to see themselves in your experiences, thus making your speech more relatable.
  • Keep it genuine: Avoid overrehearsing or coming across as scripted. Instead, strive for authenticity and flexibility in your delivery.
  • Encourage participation: Engaging your audience through questions, activities, or conversation can help build rapport and make them feel more involved.

What are some techniques for maintaining a friendly and professional tone in speeches?

To maintain a friendly and professional tone in your speeches, consider these tips:

  • Balance humor and seriousness: Use humor to lighten the mood and engage your audience, but make sure to also cover the serious points in your speech.
  • Speak naturally: Use your everyday vocabulary and avoid jargon or overly formal language when possible.
  • Show respect: Acknowledge differing opinions and experiences, and treat your audience with courtesy and fairness.
  • Provide useful information: Offer valuable insights and solutions to your audience’s concerns, ensuring they leave your speech feeling more informed and empowered.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Leadership [Examples, Tips]
  • Effective Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace (Examples)
  • Empathy: Definition, Types, and Tips for Effective Practice
  • How to Improve Key Communication Skills
  • 38 Empathy Statements: Examples of Empathy
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  • The 4 main speech types
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How to write a good speech in 7 steps

By:  Susan Dugdale  

- an easily followed format for writing a great speech

Did you know writing a speech doesn't have be an anxious, nail biting experience?

Unsure? Don't be.

You may have lived with the idea you were never good with words for a long time. Or perhaps giving speeches at school brought you out in cold sweats.

However learning how to write a speech is relatively straight forward when you learn to write out loud.

And that's the journey I am offering to take you on: step by step.

To learn quickly, go slow

Take all the time you need. This speech format has 7 steps, each building on the next.

Walk, rather than run, your way through all of them. Don't be tempted to rush. Familiarize yourself with the ideas. Try them out.

I know there are well-advertised short cuts and promises of 'write a speech in 5 minutes'. However in reality they only truly work for somebody who already has the basic foundations of speech writing in place.

The foundation of good speech writing 

These steps are the backbone of sound speech preparation. Learn and follow them well at the outset and yes, given more experience and practice you could probably flick something together quickly. Like any skill, the more it's used, the easier it gets.

In the meantime...

Step 1: Begin with a speech overview or outline

Are you in a hurry? Without time to read a whole page? Grab ... The Quick How to Write a Speech Checklist And come back to get the details later.

  • WHO you are writing your speech for (your target audience)
  • WHY you are preparing this speech. What's the main purpose of your speech? Is it to inform or tell your audience about something? To teach them a new skill or demonstrate something? To persuade or to entertain? (See 4 types of speeches: informative, demonstrative, persuasive and special occasion or entertaining for more.) What do you want them to think, feel or do as a result of listening the speech?
  • WHAT your speech is going to be about (its topic) - You'll want to have thought through your main points and have ranked them in order of importance. And have sorted the supporting research you need to make those points effectively.
  • HOW much time you have for your speech eg. 3 minutes, 5 minutes... The amount of time you've been allocated dictates how much content you need. If you're unsure check this page: how many words per minute in a speech: a quick reference guide . You'll find estimates of the number of words required for 1 - 10 minute speeches by slow, medium and fast talkers.

Use an outline

The best way to make sure you deliver a perfect speech is to start by carefully completing a speech outline covering the essentials: WHO, WHY, WHAT and HOW.

Beginning to write without thinking your speech through is a bit like heading off on a journey not knowing why you're traveling or where you're going to end up. You can find yourself lost in a deep, dark, murky muddle of ideas very quickly!

Pulling together a speech overview or outline is a much safer option. It's the map you'll follow to get where you want to go.

Get a blank speech outline template to complete

Click the link to find out a whole lot more about preparing a speech outline . ☺ You'll also find a free printable blank speech outline template.  I recommend using it!

Understanding speech construction

Before you begin to write, using your completed outline as a guide, let's briefly look at what you're aiming to prepare.

  • an opening or introduction
  • the body where the bulk of the information is given
  • and an ending (or summary).

Imagine your speech as a sandwich

Image: gourmet sandwich with labels on the top (opening) and bottom (conclusion) slices of bread and filling, (body). Text: Key ingredients for a superb speech sandwich.

If you think of a speech as a sandwich you'll get the idea.

The opening and ending are the slices of bread holding the filling (the major points or the body of your speech) together.

You can build yourself a simple sandwich with one filling (one big idea) or you could go gourmet and add up to three or, even five. The choice is yours.

But whatever you choose to serve, as a good cook, you need to consider who is going to eat it! And that's your audience.

So let's find out who they are before we do anything else. 

Step 2: Know who you are talking to

Understanding your audience.

Did you know a  good speech is never written from the speaker's point of view?  ( If you need to know more about why check out this page on  building rapport .)

Begin with the most important idea/point on your outline.

Consider HOW you can explain (show, tell) that to your audience in the most effective way for them to easily understand it.   

Writing from the audience's point of view

how to write a great introduction to a speech

To help you write from an audience point of view, it's a good idea to identify either a real person or the type of person who is most likely to be listening to you.

Make sure you select someone who represents the "majority" of the people who will be in your audience. That is they are neither struggling to comprehend you at the bottom of your scale or light-years ahead at the top.

Now imagine they are sitting next to you eagerly waiting to hear what you're going to say. Give them a name, for example, Joe, to help make them real.

Ask yourself

  • How do I need to tailor my information to meet Joe's needs? For example, do you tell personal stories to illustrate your main points? Absolutely! Yes. This is a very powerful technique. (Click storytelling in speeches to find out more.)
  • What type or level of language is right for Joe as well as my topic? For example if I use jargon (activity, industry or profession specific vocabulary) will it be understood?

Step 3: Writing as you speak

Writing oral language.

Write down what you want to say about your first main point as if you were talking directly to Joe.

If it helps, say it all out loud before you write it down and/or record it.

Use the information below as a guide

Infographic: The Characteristics of Spoken Language - 7 points of difference with examples.

(Click to download The Characteristics of Spoken Language  as a pdf.) 

You do not have to write absolutely everything you're going to say down * but you do need to write down, or outline, the sequence of ideas to ensure they are logical and easily followed.

Remember too, to explain or illustrate your point with examples from your research. 

( * Tip: If this is your first speech the safety net of having everything written down could be just what you need. It's easier to recover from a patch of jitters when you have a word by word manuscript than if you have either none, or a bare outline. Your call!)

Step 4: Checking tone and language

The focus of this step is re-working what you've done in Step 2 and 3.

You identified who you were talking to (Step 2) and in Step 3, wrote up your first main point.  Is it right? Have you made yourself clear?  Check it.

Graphic:cartoon drawing of a woman sitting in front of a laptop. Text:How to write a speech: checking tone and language.

How well you complete this step depends on how well you understand the needs of the people who are going to listen to your speech.

Please do not assume because you know what you're talking about the person (Joe) you've chosen to represent your audience will too. Joe is not a mind-reader!

How to check what you've prepared

  • Check the "tone" of your language . Is it right for the occasion, subject matter and your audience?
  • Check the length of your sentences. You need short sentences. If they're too long or complicated you risk losing your listeners.

Check for jargon too. These are industry, activity or group exclusive words.

For instance take the phrase: authentic learning . This comes from teaching and refers to connecting lessons to the daily life of students. Authentic learning is learning that is relevant and meaningful for students. If you're not a teacher you may not understand the phrase.

The use of any vocabulary requiring insider knowledge needs to be thought through from the audience perspective. Jargon can close people out.

  • Read what you've written out loud. If it flows naturally, in a logical manner, continue the process with your next main idea. If it doesn't, rework.

We use whole sentences and part ones, and we mix them up with asides or appeals e.g. "Did you get that? Of course you did. Right...Let's move it along. I was saying ..."

Click for more about the differences between spoken and written language .

And now repeat the process

Repeat this process for the remainder of your main ideas.

Because you've done the first one carefully, the rest should follow fairly easily.

Step 5: Use transitions

Providing links or transitions between main ideas.

Between each of your main ideas you need to provide a bridge or pathway for your audience. The clearer the pathway or bridge, the easier it is for them to make the transition from one idea to the next.

Graphic - girl walking across a bridge. Text - Using transitions to link ideas.

If your speech contains more than three main ideas and each is building on the last, then consider using a "catch-up" or summary as part of your transitions.

Is your speech being evaluated? Find out exactly what aspects you're being assessed on using this standard speech evaluation form

Link/transition examples

A link can be as simple as:

"We've explored one scenario for the ending of Block Buster 111, but let's consider another. This time..."

What follows this transition is the introduction of Main Idea Two.

Here's a summarizing link/transition example:

"We've ended Blockbuster 111 four ways so far. In the first, everybody died. In the second, everybody died BUT their ghosts remained to haunt the area. In the third, one villain died. His partner reformed and after a fight-out with the hero, they both strode off into the sunset, friends forever. In the fourth, the hero dies in a major battle but is reborn sometime in the future.

And now what about one more? What if nobody died? The fifth possibility..."

Go back through your main ideas checking the links. Remember Joe as you go. Try each transition or link out loud and really listen to yourself. Is it obvious? Easily followed?

Keep them if they are clear and concise.

For more about transitions (with examples) see Andrew Dlugan's excellent article, Speech Transitions: Magical words and Phrases .

Step 6: The end of your speech

The ideal ending is highly memorable . You want it to live on in the minds of your listeners long after your speech is finished. Often it combines a call to action with a summary of major points.

Comic Graphic: End with a bang

Example speech endings

Example 1: The desired outcome of a speech persuading people to vote for you in an upcoming election is that they get out there on voting day and do so. You can help that outcome along by calling them to register their support by signing a prepared pledge statement as they leave.

"We're agreed we want change. You can help us give it to you by signing this pledge statement as you leave. Be part of the change you want to see!

Example 2: The desired outcome is increased sales figures. The call to action is made urgent with the introduction of time specific incentives.

"You have three weeks from the time you leave this hall to make that dream family holiday in New Zealand yours. Can you do it? Will you do it? The kids will love it. Your wife will love it. Do it now!"

How to figure out the right call to action

A clue for working out what the most appropriate call to action might be, is to go back to your original purpose for giving the speech.

  • Was it to motivate or inspire?
  • Was it to persuade to a particular point of view?
  • Was it to share specialist information?
  • Was it to celebrate a person, a place, time or event?

Ask yourself what you want people to do as a result of having listened to your speech.

For more about ending speeches

Visit this page for more about how to end a speech effectively . You'll find two additional types of speech endings with examples.

Write and test

Write your ending and test it out loud. Try it out on a friend, or two. Is it good? Does it work?

Step 7: The introduction

Once you've got the filling (main ideas) the linking and the ending in place, it's time to focus on the introduction.

The introduction comes last as it's the most important part of your speech. This is the bit that either has people sitting up alert or slumped and waiting for you to end. It's the tone setter!

What makes a great speech opening?

Ideally you want an opening that makes listening to you the only thing the 'Joes' in the audience want to do.

You want them to forget they're hungry or that their chair is hard or that their bills need paying.

The way to do that is to capture their interest straight away. You do this with a "hook".

Hooks to catch your audience's attention

Hooks come in as many forms as there are speeches and audiences. Your task is work out what specific hook is needed to catch your audience.

Graphic: shoal of fish and two hooked fishing lines. Text: Hooking and holding attention

Go back to the purpose. Why are you giving this speech?

Once you have your answer, consider your call to action. What do you want the audience to do, and, or take away, as a result of listening to you?

Next think about the imaginary or real person you wrote for when you were focusing on your main ideas.

Choosing the best hook

  • Is it humor?
  • Would shock tactics work?
  • Is it a rhetorical question?
  • Is it formality or informality?
  • Is it an outline or overview of what you're going to cover, including the call to action?
  • Or is it a mix of all these elements?

A hook example

Here's an example from a fictional political speech. The speaker is lobbying for votes. His audience are predominately workers whose future's are not secure.

"How's your imagination this morning? Good? (Pause for response from audience) Great, I'm glad. Because we're going to put it to work starting right now.

I want you to see your future. What does it look like? Are you happy? Is everything as you want it to be? No? Let's change that. We could do it. And we could do it today.

At the end of this speech you're going to be given the opportunity to change your world, for a better one ...

No, I'm not a magician. Or a simpleton with big ideas and precious little commonsense. I'm an ordinary man, just like you. And I have a plan to share!"

And then our speaker is off into his main points supported by examples. The end, which he has already foreshadowed in his opening, is the call to vote for him.

Prepare several hooks

Experiment with several openings until you've found the one that serves your audience, your subject matter and your purpose best.

For many more examples of speech openings go to: how to write a speech introduction . You'll find 12 of the very best ways to start a speech.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

That completes the initial seven steps towards writing your speech. If you've followed them all the way through, congratulations, you now have the text of your speech!

Although you might have the words, you're still a couple of steps away from being ready to deliver them. Both of them are essential if you want the very best outcome possible. They are below. Please take them.

Step 8: Checking content and timing

This step pulls everything together.

Check once, check twice, check three times & then once more!

Go through your speech really carefully.

On the first read through check you've got your main points in their correct order with supporting material, plus an effective introduction and ending.

On the second read through check the linking passages or transitions making sure they are clear and easily followed.

On the third reading check your sentence structure, language use and tone.

Double, triple check the timing

Now go though once more.

This time read it aloud slowly and time yourself.

If it's too long for the time allowance you've been given make the necessary cuts.

Start by looking at your examples rather than the main ideas themselves. If you've used several examples to illustrate one principal idea, cut the least important out.

Also look to see if you've repeated yourself unnecessarily or, gone off track. If it's not relevant, cut it.

Repeat the process, condensing until your speech fits the required length, preferably coming in just under your time limit.

You can also find out how approximately long it will take you to say the words you have by using this very handy words to minutes converter . It's an excellent tool, one I frequently use. While it can't give you a precise time, it does provide a reasonable estimate.

Graphic: Click to read example speeches of all sorts.

Step 9: Rehearsing your speech

And NOW you are finished with writing the speech, and are ready for REHEARSAL .

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Please don't be tempted to skip this step. It is not an extra thrown in for good measure. It's essential.

The "not-so-secret" secret of successful speeches combines good writing with practice, practice and then, practicing some more.

Go to how to practice public speaking and you'll find rehearsal techniques and suggestions to boost your speech delivery from ordinary to extraordinary.

The Quick How to Write a Speech Checklist

Before you begin writing you need:.

  • Your speech OUTLINE with your main ideas ranked in the order you're going to present them. (If you haven't done one complete this 4 step sample speech outline . It will make the writing process much easier.)
  • Your RESEARCH
  • You also need to know WHO you're speaking to, the PURPOSE of the speech and HOW long you're speaking for

The basic format

  • the body where you present your main ideas

Split your time allowance so that you spend approximately 70% on the body and 15% each on the introduction and ending.

How to write the speech

  • Write your main ideas out incorporating your examples and research
  • Link them together making sure each flows in a smooth, logical progression
  • Write your ending, summarizing your main ideas briefly and end with a call for action
  • Write your introduction considering the 'hook' you're going to use to get your audience listening
  • An often quoted saying to explain the process is: Tell them what you're going to tell them (Introduction) Tell them (Body of your speech - the main ideas plus examples) Tell them what you told them (The ending)

TEST before presenting. Read aloud several times to check the flow of material, the suitability of language and the timing.

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how to write a great introduction to a speech

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Make A Speech Introduction That Grabs Audience Attention

Speech introduction

The speech introduction is the first part of a speech and the first opportunity to grab the audience’s attention. The speaker should state the topic, make it relatable to the audience, establish credibility and preview the main points. You should write or finalize your introduction at the end so that it reflects what you actually said.

Listen up, audience!

No matter whether you are giving an informative speech to enlighten an audience about a certain topic or a persuasive speech aims to convince the crowd to adopt a particular viewpoint. But whichever type of speech you’re writing or delivering, one thing is true:  You must create an attention-grabbing speech introduction.

Table of Contents

What Is The Best Way To Start A Speech?

Whether in speech writing or public speaking, the role of a good intro cannot be understated.  It is your best chance to captivate your audience’s attention and entice them to be with you until the rest of your speech. 

It’s also your opportunity to introduce the topic and thesis statement and set up the points you’ll discuss later.  So, keep in mind that you emphasize the relevance of your subject matter to the audience and contextualize it properly. 

These are some of the best ways to make a compelling introduction speech. 

  • State a quote or use a historical event reference.  Analyze your target audience and look for a powerful quote from a relevant figure or a historical event that will resonate with listeners and relate it to your topic. A notable quotation can immediately establish a strong connection. On the other hand, an important event will help you illustrate your point or paint a scenario better. 
  • Share a personal story.  Sometimes, you don’t have to search far and wide to demonstrate a point. You can tap into your personal experience and share something about yourself. Generally, audience members enjoy hearing stories as they pique their interest and get a glimpse of who the speaker is. Your anecdotes will also make you more human and accessible.
  • Start with an “Imagine” or “What if?” scenario.  Want to make your audience engaged? Let their imagination run. In many speeches over the years, some of the most successful ones used this technique. Speakers transport the audience to the future or a scenario wherein their proposed idea or belief reigns. For example, “What if we live in a world where everyone can access healthcare?”
  • Count on a video or any other visual aids.  If you’re a public speaker keen to use technology, you may also want to commence your speech with visual aids. For instance, you can show a pre-prepared video to draw the crowd’s attention right before you speak. If you’re talking about hunger and food security, you can show footage of how such issues take a toll in many third-world countries.
  • Tell surprising statistics.  One of the most effective ways to shock — and, ultimately, grab your audience’s attention is by telling real, hard facts. If you’re looking for a good attention-getter, you can rely on surprising statistics about your topic. For instance, if your topic is bullying, you can mention that in the US,  around 3 million students are victims of bullying.
  • Ask the audience a question.  Another way to hook your audience is by asking them a question. It can be a direct one (e.g., “Who among here are…” then ask for a show of hands). It can also be a rhetorical question (e.g., “What is the meaning of life?”). The key is interacting with the crowd to get their attention and effectively introducing your subject matter. 

Liven up speech introduction with a quote

What Should You Include In the Introduction?

When you look at intro samples and templates on the web,  you’ll find that effective speech introductions contain key elements. And one of the most important is your attention-grabber, which will compel your audience to listen to your speech and narrative.

You must also introduce your speech topic and indicate why it matters to your audience. You should also share something about yourself, especially your credibility, to discuss a particular subject matter. 

Once you’ve laid out these foundations,  state your central idea or thesis statement.  Tell the audience members the point of view you want them to adopt, and  give them a preview of the main points you’re discussing if you’re giving a persuasive speech.  If you’re writing or delivering an informative one, you can provide them with a brief speech outline or the key points you’ll touch upon throughout the body of the speech.

What Are The Best Lines To Introduce A Speech?

One of the most common public speaking tips you’ll encounter is to have a good introduction. To help you capture the audience’s attention, here are some ideas you can use in your speech.

  • A famous quote (For example, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” by Steve Jobs)
  • A song lyric (“Imagine there’s no countries/ It isn’t hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for/ And no religion, too,” from “Imagine by John Lennon)
  • A line from a poem (“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise,” from “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou)
  • A line from a movie (“Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good,” from “Wall Street”)
  • Reference to a historical event (“Two hundred years ago, one of the most important proclamations was made. Through the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the enslaved Black people were given freedom.”
  • Reference to a notable figure (“Stan Lee, the man behind iconic Marvel characters, was hired as an editorial assistant at a comics company after graduating high school.”).
  • A bold statement (“Prostitution must be legalized.”)
  • A serious statement (“Climate change is a pressing issue.”)
  • A humorous line (“Don’t underestimate me. That’s the job of my mom.”)
  • A shocking statistic (“If you’re consuming too much fast food and baked goods, did you know that you are 51% more likely to be depressed?”)
  • A direct question (“Who among here plays violent video games?”)
  • A rhetorical question (“Is there a more powerful feeling than love?”)
  • A personal story (“Back when I was a fresh college graduate, I busied myself applying to the top multi-national companies.”)
  • An anecdote (“Long ago, there was a man — an old but healthy man — who dared climb Mount Everest. He was 80, and he succeeded.”)
  • A what-if scenario (“What if there were no poor people?”)

How Do You Introduce Yourself In A Speech?

Whether you’re a first-time speaker or a veteran, how you approach introducing yourself in a speech is important in establishing your credibility. To avoid getting called boring, you might want to shy away from the usual “Hi, everyone. I’m (your name). I (your credentials), and today I will be talking about (points of the speech).”

Usually, someone else may have given your name and background. This gives you the liberty to begin your speech more interestingly. 

You can start by stating any of the introduction lines listed above, then transition to why listening to you will matter to them. For example, if you’re talking about mental health and depression, you can follow up a surprising statistic with something like, “I know because I was a part of that statistic. Now, I’ve studied to become a therapist myself.”

To further create an air of authority, you must be mindful of your body language  (taking a deep breath before speaking can help you shake off your nervousness and tension).  Additionally, you must make eye contact and speak words clearly. 

How Do You Introduce A Speaker?

Now, if you’re tasked to introduce the one who will deliver the speech, it’s your responsibility to set the right atmosphere and build excitement. 

One of the first things to do is know how to pronounce the speaker’s name and ensure that what you’ll say about the speaker’s credibility is factual.  Since you’re only introducing the speaker, keep things simple and concise. If you want to enrich your introduction, you can ask the speaker what they want to be highlighted (Do they have a new book? Which prestigious groups are they affiliated with?). 

Like what the speaker would do, you must also make eye contact to engage the audience. Practice and have a run-through before you take the stage to guarantee a smooth delivery. 

Introduce a speaker

What Is An Example Of A Speech Introduction?

Speakers and speech writers know how challenging it is to grab an audience’s attention.  Here’s a good example of an introductory speech that uses statistics. This is from English restaurateur  Jamie Oliver  who delivered a TED Talk about food:

“Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat. 

My name’s Jamie Oliver. I’m 34 years old. I’m from Essex in England, and for the last seven years, I’ve worked fairly tirelessly to save lives in my own way. I’m not a doctor; I’m a chef, I don’t have expensive equipment or medicine. I use information, education.”

What Is The Introduction For A Speech On Bully

Looking for inspiration for a good introduction where your topic is bullying? Check out this sample intro from actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador  Millie Bobby Brown  during World Children’s Day in 2019:

“In world capitals — in buildings like this — adults talk about children’s rights. But today, young people don’t want to be talked about. They want to do the talking.

 Millions of people responded to UNICEF surveys and petitions about what the Convention on the Rights of the Child meant to them. In the words of one young person: ‘Be an active voice. Don’t let things go unnoticed. So today, I want to talk about an issue that is very personal to me. Something that so often goes unnoticed — but causes real suffering. Bullying.”

What Are Some Other Examples Of Speech Introductions?

Below are some more speech introduction examples you can take inspiration from. 

  • “Three things I learned while my plane crashed” by Ric Elias : “Imagine a big explosion as you climb through 3,000 ft. Imagine a plane full of smoke. Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. It sounds scary. Well, I had a unique seat that day. I was sitting in 1D.”
  • “How to find and do work you love” by Scott Dinsmore : “8 years ago, I got the worst career advice of my life.”

“How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek : “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?”

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Examples

Introduction Speech

Introduction speech generator.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Discover the art of crafting compelling introduction speeches through our comprehensive guide. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned speaker, our step-by-step approach simplifies the process. Explore a rich collection of speech examples , tailored to inspire and improve your public speaking skills. Master the nuances of delivering impactful introductions that captivate your audience, using our expertly curated speech examples as your roadmap to success.

What is Introduction Speech?

An introduction speech , also known as an introductory speech or an icebreaker speech, is a short address given to introduce oneself or someone else to an audience. The purpose of an introduction speech is to provide relevant information about the person being introduced, set the tone for the event or presentation, and establish a connection with the audience. This type of speech is commonly used in various settings, such as conferences, meetings, seminars, social events, and classrooms.

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A speech can be of any form and used for various functions. It can be a thank-you speech to show one’s gratitude or even an introduction speech to introduce a person (even oneself), product, company, or the like. In these examples, let’s look at different speech examples that seek to introduce.

Introduction Speech Example

Introduction Speech Example

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Introduction Speech for Students

Introduction Speech for Students

Introduction Speech for School

Introduction Speech for School

Self-Introduction Sample

Self Introduction Sample4

Short Introduction Speech

Short Introduction Speech2

Introduction Speech for Employee

Personal Introduction Example

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Introduction Speech for Students

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Formal Introduction Sample

Formal Introduction Sample2

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More Introduction Speech Examples and Samples

Self Introduction Speech for Interview Self Introduction Speech for School Students Self Introduction Speech for Middle School Self Introduction Speech for University New Manager Introduction Speech Introduction Speech for an Event Introduction Speech for Freshers Party Introduction Speech for Guest Speaker Introduction Speech for Seminar Introduction Speech for Conference Introduction Speech for Workshop Introduction Speech for Award Ceremony Introduction Speech for Corporate Event Introduction Speech for Team Meeting Introduction Speech for Annual Day Introduction Speech for Webinar Introduction Speech for Cultural Event Introduction Speech for Product Launch Introduction Speech for Training Session Introduction Speech for Charity Event Introduction Speech for Graduation Ceremony Introduction Speech for Farewell Party Introduction Speech for Business Meeting Introduction Speech for School Assembly Introduction Speech for Panel Discussion Introduction Speech for Retirement Party Introduction Speech for Anchoring Introduction Speech for Program

How to Write a Introduction Speech?

Start with a warm and friendly greeting to the audience.

  • Example: “Good afternoon, everyone.”

2. Self-Introduction (if introducing yourself)

State your name and your role or position.

Example : “My name is [Your Name], and I am [your position, e.g., ‘the new marketing manager’].”

3. Purpose of the Speech

Explain why you are speaking and the context of the event.

Example : “I’m here today to introduce our guest speaker, [Speaker’s Name].”

4. Background Information

Provide relevant details about the person being introduced, such as their qualifications and achievements.

Example : “[Speaker’s Name] is a renowned expert in [field], with over [number] years of experience.”

5. Significance and Credentials

Highlight why the person is important and their qualifications to speak on the topic.

Example : “[Speaker’s Name] has received numerous awards, including [specific award].”

6. Personal Touch:

Add a personal anecdote or a light-hearted comment to make the introduction engaging.

Example : “When [Speaker’s Name] is not busy revolutionizing the industry, they enjoy hiking and cooking gourmet meals.”

7. Conclusion

Wrap up the introduction by reiterating the importance of the person or the event.

Example : “Please join me in welcoming [Speaker’s Name].”

8. Transition

Smoothly transition to the next part of the event or hand over to the person being introduced.

Example : “Without further ado, here is [Speaker’s Name].”

Tips For Introduction Speech

Start with a Greeting:

  • Begin with a warm, friendly greeting.

Introduce Yourself:

  • State your name and your role or connection.
  • Example: “I’m [Your Name], [Speaker’s Name]’s colleague.”

State the Purpose:

  • Explain why you’re speaking and the context.
  • Example: “I’m here to introduce our guest speaker, [Speaker’s Name].”

Highlight Key Details:

  • Share relevant background information and achievements.
  • Example: “[Speaker’s Name] has over 20 years of experience in [field].”

Add a Personal Touch:

  • Include a personal anecdote or light-hearted comment.
  • Example: “Outside of work, [Speaker’s Name] enjoys hiking and gourmet cooking.”

Summarize Significance:

  • Emphasize why the person is important.
  • Example: “[Speaker’s Name]’s innovative work has set new industry standards.”

Conclude and Transition:

  • Wrap up and smoothly transition to the speaker.
  • Example: “Please join me in welcoming [Speaker’s Name].”

FAQ’s

What should an introduction speech include.

Include the speaker’s name, credentials, achievements, and relevance to the topic or event.

How long should an introduction speech be?

An introduction speech should typically last between 1 to 3 minutes, keeping it concise and engaging.

How can I prepare for an introduction speech?

Research the speaker thoroughly, practice your speech, and time yourself to ensure it’s concise and engaging.

How do I address the audience in an introduction speech?

Address the audience formally, using appropriate greetings such as “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Distinguished Guests.”

Should I mention the speaker’s personal life?

Only mention personal details if they are relevant and appropriate for the context and audience.

How can I make the introduction speech engaging?

Share interesting and relevant facts, anecdotes, or achievements about the speaker that connect with the audience.

What tone should I use in an introduction speech?

Use a respectful, enthusiastic, and welcoming tone to create a positive atmosphere.

How can I start an introduction speech?

Begin with a compelling opening, such as a quote, anecdote, or interesting fact about the speaker.

Why is an introduction speech important?

It sets the tone for the speaker, builds credibility, and engages the audience, preparing them for the main presentation.

What mistakes should I avoid in an introduction speech?

Avoid overly long speeches, irrelevant details, mispronouncing names, and using a monotone voice.

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Text prompt

  • Instructive
  • Professional

Write an Introduction Speech for a guest speaker at a conference.

Create an Introduction Speech for a new teacher at school.

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  • How to Start a Speech: The Best Ways to Capture Your Audience

You’ve heard the saying,  “First impressions are lasting; you never get a second chance to create a good first impression” —  right?

The same is true when talking about how to start a speech…

The truth is, when you start your speech, you must focus everything on making a positive first impression on your audience members (especially if you are doing the presentation virtually ). Capturing the audience’s attention from the very beginning is crucial to prevent them from being distracted, losing interest, or forming negative opinions.

The introduction is the formal greeting for speeches, so let’s be sure to get this right to hook the audience. Understanding the importance of speech openings can significantly impact making a strong first impression. Planning and delivering the first words with confidence and relevance is essential, as they set the tone for the entire presentation and ensure you deliver a professional start, free from hesitation or irrelevance.

Here are 15 different ways to start a speech as well as 2 extra BONUS tips at the end.

1) Thank the Organizers and Audience

You can start by thanking the audience for coming and thanking the organization for inviting you to speak.

Refer to the person who introduced you or to one or more of the senior people in the organization in the audience.

This compliments them, makes them feel proud and happy about your presence, and connects you to the audience like an electrical plug in a socket.

2) Start With a Positive Statement

A presentation tip at the start is to tell the audience members how much they will like and enjoy what you have to say.

For example, you might say:

“You’re really going to enjoy the time we spend together this evening. I’m going to share with you some of the most important ideas that have ever been discovered in this area.”

Remember that  speaking is an art,  so be an artist and take complete control of your performance,

3) Compliment the Audience

You can begin by complimenting the audience members sincerely and with great respect.

Smile as if you are really glad to see them as if they are all old friends of yours that you have not seen for quite a while.

You can tell them that it is a great honor for you to be here, that they are some of the most important people in this business or industry, and that you are looking forward to sharing some key ideas with them.

You could say something like:

“It is an honor to be here with you today. You are the elite, the top 10 percent of people in this industry. Only the very best people in any field will take the time and make the sacrifice to come so far for a conference like this.”

4) Start Your Speech With the First Sentence Referring to Current Events

Use a current event front-page news story to transition into your subject and to illustrate or prove your point. You can bring a copy of the newspaper and hold it up as you refer to it in your introduction.

This visual image of you holding the paper and reciting or reading a key point rivets the audience’s attention and causes more people to lean forward to hear what you have to say.

5) Refer to a Historical Event

For many years, I studied military history…

Especially the lives and campaigns of the great generals and the decisive battles they won. One of my favorites was Alexander the Great. Standing in the symbolic shadow of such historical figures can provide a powerful and engaging start to any speech, especially when drawing parallels to contemporary challenges.

One day, I was asked to give a talk on leadership principles to a roomful of managers for a Fortune 500 company.

I decided that the campaign of Alexander the Great against Darius of Persia would make an excellent story that would illustrate the leadership qualities of one of the great commanders in history.

I opened my talk with these words:

“Once upon a time there was a young man named Alex who grew up in a poor country. But Alex was a little bit ambitious. From an early age, he decided that he wanted to conquer the entire known world. But there was a small problem.

Most of the known world was under the control of a huge multinational called the Persian Empire, headed by King Darius II. To fulfill his ambition, Alex was going to have to take the market share away from the market leader, who was very determined to hold on to it.

This is the same situation that exists between you and your major competitors in the market today. You are going to have to use all your leadership skills to win the great marketing battles of the future.”

6) Refer to a Well Known Person

You can start by quoting a well-known person or publication that recently made an interesting or important statement.

One of the subjects I touch upon regularly is the importance of continual personal development.

I will say something like:

“In the twenty-first century, knowledge and know-how are the keys to success. As basketball coach Pat Riley said, ‘If you are not getting better, you are getting worse.’”

7) Refer to a Recent Conversation

Start by telling a story about a recent conversation with someone in attendance.

For instance, I might say:

“A few minutes ago, I was talking with Tom Robinson in the lobby. He told me that this is one of the very best times to be working in this industry, and I agree.”

8) Make a Shocking Statement With a Startling Fact

You can start your talk by making a shocking statement of some kind.

For example, you might say something like:

“Here’s a startling fact: According to a recent study, there will be more change, more competition, and more opportunities in this industry in the next year than ever before. And 72 percent of the people in this room will be doing something different within two years if they do not rapidly adapt to these changes.”

Click here If you want to learn more techniques to wow your audience.

9) Quote From Recent Research

You can start by quoting a relevant, recent research report.

One example is:

“According to a story in a recent issue of Businessweek, there were almost 11 million millionaires in America in 2018, most of them self-made.”

10) Start Your Speech With a Strong Opening By Giving Them Hope

The French philosopher Gustav Le Bon once wrote, “The only religion of mankind is, and always has been hope.”

When you speak effectively, you give people hope of some kind.

Remember, the ultimate purpose of public speaking, is to inspire people to do things that they would not have done in the absence of your comments.

Everything you say should relate to the actions you want people to take and the reasons that they should take those actions.

11) Be Entertaining

Bill Gove used to walk onto the stage after his introduction if he had just finished talking to someone on the side and was breaking off to give his talk to the group.

The audience got the feeling that his entire talk was one continuous conversation, devoid of meaningless filler words .

Bill would often go to the edge of the stage and then drop his voice in a conspiratorial way, open his arms, and beckon the audience members to come a little closer.

He would say, “Come here, let me tell you something,” and then he would wave them forward as though he was about to tell a secret to the entire room.

The amazing thing was that everyone in the room would lean forward to hear this “secret” that he was about to share. People would all suddenly realize what they were doing and break out in laughter. It was a wonderful device to get the audience into the palm of his hands.

12) Ask a Question

You can open by making a positive statement and then pose a rhetorical question to engage your audience and set the stage for your presentation.

Try something like this:

“This is a great time to be alive and in business in America. But let me ask you, what does it truly mean to be self-employed in today’s economy?”

Raise your hand to indicate what you want people to do. I have used this line, and after a moment of thought, I then say to someone who looks intrigued in the front, “How many people here feel truly self-employed?”

Invariably, someone will say, “We all do!”

I then compliment and affirm the answer: “You’re right! We are all self-employed, from the time we take our first jobs to the day that we retire; we all work for ourselves, no matter who signs our paychecks.”

Similarly, a 17-year-old science fair winner effectively engaged their audience with a question at the beginning of their TED Talk, showcasing the power of this technique.

13) Open With a Problem

You can start with a problem that must be solved. If it is a problem that almost everyone has in common, you will immediately have the audience’s complete and undivided attention.

For example, you could say:

“Fully 63 percent of baby boomers are moving toward retirement without enough money put aside to provide for themselves for as long as they are going to live. We must address this problem and take action immediately to ensure that each person who retires will be able to live comfortably for the rest of his or her natural life.”

Introducing a new idea at this point can be a powerful way to engage your audience further, by promising a solution that is both innovative and beneficial.

14) Make a Strong Statement, Then Ask a Question

You can start by making a strong and powerful statement and then ask a question. You then follow with an answer and ask another question. This gets people immediately involved and listening to your every word.

Here’s an example:

“Twenty percent of the people in our society make 80 percent of the money. Are you a member of the top 20 percent? If not, would you like to join the top 20 percent or even the top 10 percent? Well, in the next few minutes, I am going to give you some ideas to help you become some of the highest-paid people in our society. Would that be a good goal for our time together today?”

15) Tell a Personal Story

You can start your talk with a personal story. Some of the most powerful words to capture the complete attention of the audience and make a personal connection are, “Once upon a time…”

From infancy and early childhood, people love stories of any kind. When you start off a presentation with a personal anecdote using the words, “Once upon a time…” you tell the audience that a relatable story is coming. People immediately settle down, become quiet, and lean forward, eager to hear how your experience might mirror their own or offer them new insights.

When I conduct full-day seminars and I want to bring people back to their seats after a break, I will say loudly, “Once upon a time there was a man, right here in this city…”

As soon as I say these words, people hurry back to their seats and begin to listen attentively, connecting with the story on a personal level.

Incorporating a personal story is very effective.

In fact, it’s probably one of the best public speaking tips I’ve learned to this day.

Bonus Tip: Tell Them About Yourself

Very often, I will start a serious speech or presentation to a business, sales, or entrepreneurial group by saying:

“I started off without graduating from high school. My family had no money. Everything I accomplished in life I had to do on my own with very little help from anyone else.”

It is amazing how many people come up to me after a talk that began with those words and tells me that was their experience as well.

They tell me that they could immediately identify with me because they too had started with poor grades and limited funds, as most people do. As a result, they were open to the rest of my talk, even a full-day seminar, and felt that everything I said was more valid and authentic than if I had been a person who started off with a successful background.

Building a bridge like this is very helpful in bringing the audience onto your side.

Bonus Tip: Get Them Talking to One Another

You can ask people to turn to the person next to them to discuss a particular point.

For instance, you could say:

“Tell the person next to you what you would like to learn from this seminar.”

Whatever you ask your audience members to do, within reason, they will do it for you. Your commands and your thought leadership will easily influence them, as long as you ask them with confidence.

By following any one of these tips for starting your speech, you are sure to grab your audience’s attention every time. How do you start a speech? Let me know in the comments.

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter , Facebook , Pinterest , Linkedin and Youtube .

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout will help you create an effective speech by establishing the purpose of your speech and making it easily understandable. It will also help you to analyze your audience and keep the audience interested.

What’s different about a speech?

Writing for public speaking isn’t so different from other types of writing. You want to engage your audience’s attention, convey your ideas in a logical manner and use reliable evidence to support your point. But the conditions for public speaking favor some writing qualities over others. When you write a speech, your audience is made up of listeners. They have only one chance to comprehend the information as you read it, so your speech must be well-organized and easily understood. In addition, the content of the speech and your delivery must fit the audience.

What’s your purpose?

People have gathered to hear you speak on a specific issue, and they expect to get something out of it immediately. And you, the speaker, hope to have an immediate effect on your audience. The purpose of your speech is to get the response you want. Most speeches invite audiences to react in one of three ways: feeling, thinking, or acting. For example, eulogies encourage emotional response from the audience; college lectures stimulate listeners to think about a topic from a different perspective; protest speeches in the Pit recommend actions the audience can take.

As you establish your purpose, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want the audience to learn or do?
  • If you are making an argument, why do you want them to agree with you?
  • If they already agree with you, why are you giving the speech?
  • How can your audience benefit from what you have to say?

Audience analysis

If your purpose is to get a certain response from your audience, you must consider who they are (or who you’re pretending they are). If you can identify ways to connect with your listeners, you can make your speech interesting and useful.

As you think of ways to appeal to your audience, ask yourself:

  • What do they have in common? Age? Interests? Ethnicity? Gender?
  • Do they know as much about your topic as you, or will you be introducing them to new ideas?
  • Why are these people listening to you? What are they looking for?
  • What level of detail will be effective for them?
  • What tone will be most effective in conveying your message?
  • What might offend or alienate them?

For more help, see our handout on audience .

Creating an effective introduction

Get their attention, otherwise known as “the hook”.

Think about how you can relate to these listeners and get them to relate to you or your topic. Appealing to your audience on a personal level captures their attention and concern, increasing the chances of a successful speech. Speakers often begin with anecdotes to hook their audience’s attention. Other methods include presenting shocking statistics, asking direct questions of the audience, or enlisting audience participation.

Establish context and/or motive

Explain why your topic is important. Consider your purpose and how you came to speak to this audience. You may also want to connect the material to related or larger issues as well, especially those that may be important to your audience.

Get to the point

Tell your listeners your thesis right away and explain how you will support it. Don’t spend as much time developing your introductory paragraph and leading up to the thesis statement as you would in a research paper for a course. Moving from the intro into the body of the speech quickly will help keep your audience interested. You may be tempted to create suspense by keeping the audience guessing about your thesis until the end, then springing the implications of your discussion on them. But if you do so, they will most likely become bored or confused.

For more help, see our handout on introductions .

Making your speech easy to understand

Repeat crucial points and buzzwords.

Especially in longer speeches, it’s a good idea to keep reminding your audience of the main points you’ve made. For example, you could link an earlier main point or key term as you transition into or wrap up a new point. You could also address the relationship between earlier points and new points through discussion within a body paragraph. Using buzzwords or key terms throughout your paper is also a good idea. If your thesis says you’re going to expose unethical behavior of medical insurance companies, make sure the use of “ethics” recurs instead of switching to “immoral” or simply “wrong.” Repetition of key terms makes it easier for your audience to take in and connect information.

Incorporate previews and summaries into the speech

For example:

“I’m here today to talk to you about three issues that threaten our educational system: First, … Second, … Third,”

“I’ve talked to you today about such and such.”

These kinds of verbal cues permit the people in the audience to put together the pieces of your speech without thinking too hard, so they can spend more time paying attention to its content.

Use especially strong transitions

This will help your listeners see how new information relates to what they’ve heard so far. If you set up a counterargument in one paragraph so you can demolish it in the next, begin the demolition by saying something like,

“But this argument makes no sense when you consider that . . . .”

If you’re providing additional information to support your main point, you could say,

“Another fact that supports my main point is . . . .”

Helping your audience listen

Rely on shorter, simpler sentence structures.

Don’t get too complicated when you’re asking an audience to remember everything you say. Avoid using too many subordinate clauses, and place subjects and verbs close together.

Too complicated:

The product, which was invented in 1908 by Orville Z. McGillicuddy in Des Moines, Iowa, and which was on store shelves approximately one year later, still sells well.

Easier to understand:

Orville Z. McGillicuddy invented the product in 1908 and introduced it into stores shortly afterward. Almost a century later, the product still sells well.

Limit pronoun use

Listeners may have a hard time remembering or figuring out what “it,” “they,” or “this” refers to. Be specific by using a key noun instead of unclear pronouns.

Pronoun problem:

The U.S. government has failed to protect us from the scourge of so-called reality television, which exploits sex, violence, and petty conflict, and calls it human nature. This cannot continue.

Why the last sentence is unclear: “This” what? The government’s failure? Reality TV? Human nature?

More specific:

The U.S. government has failed to protect us from the scourge of so-called reality television, which exploits sex, violence, and petty conflict, and calls it human nature. This failure cannot continue.

Keeping audience interest

Incorporate the rhetorical strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos.

When arguing a point, using ethos, pathos, and logos can help convince your audience to believe you and make your argument stronger. Ethos refers to an appeal to your audience by establishing your authenticity and trustworthiness as a speaker. If you employ pathos, you appeal to your audience’s emotions. Using logos includes the support of hard facts, statistics, and logical argumentation. The most effective speeches usually present a combination these rhetorical strategies.

Use statistics and quotations sparingly

Include only the most striking factual material to support your perspective, things that would likely stick in the listeners’ minds long after you’ve finished speaking. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming your listeners with too much information.

Watch your tone

Be careful not to talk over the heads of your audience. On the other hand, don’t be condescending either. And as for grabbing their attention, yelling, cursing, using inappropriate humor, or brandishing a potentially offensive prop (say, autopsy photos) will only make the audience tune you out.

Creating an effective conclusion

Restate your main points, but don’t repeat them.

“I asked earlier why we should care about the rain forest. Now I hope it’s clear that . . .” “Remember how Mrs. Smith couldn’t afford her prescriptions? Under our plan, . . .”

Call to action

Speeches often close with an appeal to the audience to take action based on their new knowledge or understanding. If you do this, be sure the action you recommend is specific and realistic. For example, although your audience may not be able to affect foreign policy directly, they can vote or work for candidates whose foreign policy views they support. Relating the purpose of your speech to their lives not only creates a connection with your audience, but also reiterates the importance of your topic to them in particular or “the bigger picture.”

Practicing for effective presentation

Once you’ve completed a draft, read your speech to a friend or in front of a mirror. When you’ve finished reading, ask the following questions:

  • Which pieces of information are clearest?
  • Where did I connect with the audience?
  • Where might listeners lose the thread of my argument or description?
  • Where might listeners become bored?
  • Where did I have trouble speaking clearly and/or emphatically?
  • Did I stay within my time limit?

Other resources

  • Toastmasters International is a nonprofit group that provides communication and leadership training.
  • Allyn & Bacon Publishing’s Essence of Public Speaking Series is an extensive treatment of speech writing and delivery, including books on using humor, motivating your audience, word choice and presentation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Boone, Louis E., David L. Kurtz, and Judy R. Block. 1997. Contemporary Business Communication . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Ehrlich, Henry. 1994. Writing Effective Speeches . New York: Marlowe.

Lamb, Sandra E. 1998. How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write . Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Start a Speech: The Best (and Worst) Speech Openers

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One of the hardest things about public speaking is knowing how to start a speech. Your opening line is your first impression. It’s how you capture attention. It’s how you captivate the audience. So how do you make sure you nail it every time?

The best way to know how to open a speech is to look at what has worked in the past. When we examined the top speeches of all time and the most popular TED talks of all time, we found some interesting speaking patterns.

Time has identified the top 10 greatest speeches of all time. They are:

Opening Lines of the Top 10 Greatest Speeches of All Time

#1: Socrates – “Apology”

Socrates's Speech Opening Line

#2: Patrick Henry – “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

Patrick Henry's Speech Opening Line

#3: Frederick Douglass – “The Hypocrisy of American Slavery”

Frederick Douglas's Speech Opening Line

#4: Abraham Lincoln – “Gettysburg Address”

Opening Line: “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address Quote

#5: Susan B. Anthony – “Women’s Rights to the Suffrage”

Susan B. Anthony's Speech Opening Line

#6: Winston Churchill – “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat”

Winston Churchill's Speech Opening Line

#7: John F. Kennedy – “Inaugural Address”

Opening Line: “We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change.”

how to write a great introduction to a speech

#8: Martin Luther King, Jr. – “I Have a Dream”

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Speech Opening Line

#9: Lyndon B. Johnson – “The American Promise”

Lyndon B. Johnson's Speech Opening Line

#10: Ronald Reagan – “Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate”

Ronald Reagan's Speech Opening Line

How do all of these historical greats start their speeches? Is there a difference between these and some of the more modern top TED talks?

Before we dive in, let’s recap with some critical do’s and don’ts when opening a speech:

Opening Lines of the Top 10 TED Talks of All Time

Here are the opening lines to the top 10 Ted Talks of all time according to view count:

#1: Sir Ken Robinson – “Do schools kill creativity?” Opening Line: “Good morning. How are you? It’s been great, hasn’t it? I’ve been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I’m leaving.”

#2: Amy Cuddy – “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are” Opening Line: “So I want to start by offering you a free, no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes.”

#3: Simon Sinek – “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”

#4: Brene Brown – “The Power of Vulnerability” Opening Line: “So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event.”

#5: Mary Roach – “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm” Opening Line: “All right. I’m going to show you a couple of images from a very diverting paper in The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.”

#6: Julian Treasure – “How to Speak so that People Want to Listen” Opening Line: “The human voice: It’s the instrument we all play.”

#7: Jill Bolte Taylor – “My Stroke of Insight” Opening Line: “I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who has been diagnosed with a brain disorder: schizophrenia.”

#8: James Veitch – “This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email” Opening Line: “A few years ago, I got one of those spam emails.”

#9: Cameron Russell – “Looks Aren’t Everything; Believe Me, I’m a Model” Opening Line: “Hi. My name is Cameron Russell, and for the last little while, I’ve been a model.”

#10: Dan Pink – “The Puzzle of Motivation” Opening Line: “I need to make a confession at the outset here.”

What can we learn from these opening lines? There are some patterns that can help us. First, let’s start with what you shouldn’t do. Have you ever made one of these cardinal speaking sins?

Never Start a Presentation with…

Anything technical! This is a big mistake people make when they have not done a tech check ahead of time or are feeling nervous. Never start with these openers:

  • Is this microphone working?
  • Can you hear me?
  • Wow, these lights are bright!

Your nervousness. Many people think it is vulnerable to start with how nervous they are about speaking — you can mention this later, but it should not be the first thing. Why? People will then only be looking for signs of your nervousness. Don’t start with:

  • I’m so nervous right now!
  • Wow there are so many people here.
  • I’m not a great public speaker.

A lackluster or non-believable nicety. It’s great to be grateful to the person who introduced you, but it’s not a great way to include the audience. It’s ok to thank the audience for being there—but do it at the end (not as your opening line). These are all too boring:

  • Thanks for having me.
  • Thanks for that intro.
  • Nice to be here.

Boring, shmoring! I have an exception here if you can make it funny. Ken Robinson started with a nicety and then turned it into a joke. He said, “ “Good morning. How are you? It’s been great, hasn’t it? I’ve been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I’m leaving.”

More Public Speaking Resources

Get even more public speaking tips with our related resources:

  • 10 Presentation Ideas that will Radically Improve Your Presentation Skills
  • 6 Public Speaking Apps to try Before Your Next Presentation
  • My Top 5 Favorite Public Speakers
  • 15 Science-Based Public Speaking Tips To Become a Master Speaker
  • How to Give Captivating Presentations
  • How to Give an Awesome Toast

How to Start a Presentation

A story. The absolute best way to start a presentation is with a story. There is nothing better to capture the imagination and attention of an audience. Try to use these speaking openers as fill-in-the-blanks for your speech.

  • I’m here for a reason. And it’s an interesting story…
  • The best thing that ever happened to me was…
  • Once upon a time…

In his talk, “The lies our culture tells us about what matters,” David Brooks started off with a great opening line AND a story. He said, “So, we all have bad seasons in life. And I had one in 2013. My marriage had just ended, and I was humiliated by that failed commitment.” Makes you want to watch right…

And if you need help on storytelling basics, be sure to check out some of my top 5 favorite speakers .

A BIG idea. Sometimes you want to share your big idea right up front. This can be helpful because it is intriguing and gets people clued in right away. All TED speakers try to integrate their big idea early.

  • You’re here for a reason. It’s…
  • The single most important thing I want to share with you today is…
  • Today, I want to share a big idea…

I love how Stacy Smith starts off her talk with her big idea framed in an interesting way. She said, “Today, I want to tell you about a pressing social issue. Now, it’s not nuclear arms, it’s not immigration, and it’s not malaria. I’m here to talk about movies.”

Special Note: Be very careful to NOT deliver your one-liner by re-reading your title slide. You also want to position it as exciting and intriguing. For example, don’t say, “Today I am going to talk about body language.” Instead say, “Today I am going to teach you the single most important thing you can do to improve your charisma… and it starts with your body.”

A quirky one-liner. If you can use humor — do it! Humor or curiosity is a great way to start a speech on a high. You can get creative with these! Think of an interesting fact about you, your audience or your topic that can lead you into your content.

  • One thing most people don’t know about me is…
  • A teacher, a mother and a duck walk into a bar…
  • I want to tell you something surprising.

When I gave my TEDx London Talk I started off with a quirky one-liner that immediately got a few laughs. It was “Hi, I’m Vanessa and I am a recovering awkward person.” It worked so well it is also the first line of my book, Captivate . 

II love the way Eve Ensler opens her speech with an interesting one-liner: “For a long time, there was me, and my body.”

This is a great tip from Conor Neill. He says that it is great to start with a question that the audience is asking themselves or would be very curious to know the answer to. This might be phrasing a pain point or worry for your audience.

  • Do you ever worry about…?
  • Have you ever wondered…?
  • You might have always thought…

See Cono Neill’s examples here: 

Did you know…? Any interesting factoid or curiosity is bound to intrigue your audience. This is great if it leads into your content or a story. I like to start with did you know… Here are some that I use. You will have to fill in the blank for your audience:

  • Did you know that it takes less than a second to make a first impression ?
  • Did you know that your nonverbal communication is 12.5 times more powerful than your words ?
  • Did you know that we are lied to 200 times a day ?

Jamie Oliver does this amazingly in his TED Talk. He starts with this mind-blowing fact, “Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead through the food that they eat.”

Hopefully these opening lines will give you some ideas to use to open your speech.

How to End a Speech: My Favorite Closers

Do you know how to end on a high? Leave a lasting impression in your presentation? Science tells us that the first and last parts of your presentations are the most important. Get our FREE download to get our closer guide.

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20 thoughts on “how to start a speech: the best (and worst) speech openers”.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Love your material

how to write a great introduction to a speech

didnt help me but still good stuff

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Thank you Vanessa. I’ve been a public speaker for 25 years and I’m impressed with your content here. Thank you. Looking forward to a deep dive into more of your material. With gratitude.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

Found these examples super informative. Can’t wait to mix match the examples to see which one will work best for my presentation!

how to write a great introduction to a speech

I am preparing to make a presentation on Public Speaking and came across your article. This is very instructive and timely too.Many thanks.

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  • Presentations
  • Public Speaking

9 Good Attention Getters for Speech Introductions

Dacia Egurrola

The idea of a presentation is relaying a message. To make that happen you need your audience's attention! This is why you need to start your speech strong with an attention-grabbing speech introduction.

Black woman, megaphone speaker and announcement on wall background for speech

If you feel a little bit lost in the matter, fear not! This tutorial is here to help you out. We'll go over:

  • how to write a speech introduction
  • what makes a speech introduction good
  • good attention getters for speeches
  • awesome speech introduction examples so you can open with a bang

Having the right tools can help you produce a riveting introduction and an even better presentation. Turn to Envato Elements , the ultimate subscription service to find premium digital assets.

Whether you're in need of presentation templates , logo stings , infographics , and more, you can get it all for a low monthly fee!

Jump to content in this section:

  • Play a Video
  • Put Together Visually-Appealing Slides
  • Tell a Story
  • Encourage Audience Participation
  • Start with Compelling Hard Data
  • Be Aware of Your Non-Verbal Communication
  • Break the Ice with Powerful Quotes
  • Show and Tell With Props
  • State Importance

A Good Speech Introduction: What, Why, and How

First, let's go over the basics.

But what makes a speech introduction good? An effective opener serves a few purposes:

  • Start connecting with and engaging the audience.
  • Outline the subject to be discussed.
  • Let the audience know what to expect from the presentation.
  • Establish your credibility and the topic's relevance.

Moreover, the introduction sets the tone for the rest of the presentation. It's in those first minutes when the audience will decide if this is worth paying attention to. O ne main purpose of a speech introduction is to get your audience's attention. 

Wondering how to write a speech introduction? The simplest way to begin is to answer the basic questions:

  • What are you talking about (review main ideas)?
  • Who are you and why are you qualified to talk about it?
  • Why is the topic important?

As you start answering those questions, there are a few things to consider. When preparing a speech introduction you should usually think about:

  • Your audience.   Who are you talking to and how can you tailor to them?
  • The way you present those answers. Is there a hook you could use? Is there a particularly interesting piece of information? How can you pique your audience's interest?

Finally, a good introduction isn't just about the information you share. To make a good impression with your introduction, you should:

  • Edit, edit, edit. Add ideas, move them around, and delete a few until you find the right flow.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Go over the introduction a few times and even rehearse it in front of other people so you can perfect it.

All these pointers will set the foundation on which to build a great introduction to your speech.

If you followed the steps above, that means you’ve worked hard on your presentation. You've spent time and energy gathering information, structuring precisely, and creating engrossing slides. 

Keep your audience’s attention away from their phones. Follow these effective attention getters for speeches and presentations:

1. Play a Video

We're highly visual beings. Moving images can catch our eyes and attention easily. For this reason, one of the best ways to introduce your speech is to play a video. 

This way you'll add voices to your presentation and assist in illustrating the subject you're about to present. Plus, it will give you a chance to take a deep breath before you begin.

To make the process of creating a video for your presentation easier, you can turn to premium assets. For instance, video templates , stock video , logo stings  and royalty-free music can allow you to explore your creativity and come up with a fascinating audiovisual product.

If it is, it could have the opposite effect of what you're trying to achieve.

Are you unsure of how to embed videos to your PowerPoint presentations? Here you go:

how to write a great introduction to a speech

2. Put Together Visually Appealing Slides

Expanding on the tip above, make sure you have powerful visuals in your presentation slides, especially in the title slide. A p rofessional, clean, and appealing title slide will pull people in.

To make your presentation slides a success , employ the tools at your disposal. Use high-quality photos and readable, concise text.

Add interesting design elements, like a logo, shapes and the use of color. Increase the slide's appeal and present your message better.

Lifestyle Design PPTX

You don't have to stress about your presentation's look and feel if you don't want to. Save time and energy and focus on the content with premium presentation templates from Envato Elements. 

Work with professionally designed and easily customizable templates to make creating a presentation a breeze.

You can even learn to convert PPT to Google Slides to use the presentation software you feel most comfortable with. Take a look at this quick tutorial:

how to write a great introduction to a speech

3. Tell a Story

Even today, our brains are constantly seeking for and creating narratives to understand the world around us better. Why wouldn’t you want to work with this to your advantage?

Introduce your subject with a story. It can be a personal story, a historical passage, a made-up narrative, a well-known story, and even a joke. Regardless, people will be more likely to remember it than a list of facts. Stories engage emotions, which facilitates connection.

Of course, you will need to find a way to tie the story to your presentation. As a speech introduction example, if you're talking about how to reach a goal, the popular story of the tortoise and the hare can be useful.

Just don't get carried away with the story! Word it well so you don't get lost on details and divert too far from the point you're trying to make.

4. Encourage Audience Participation

Do you want to make sure people are paying attention?

Ask them to participate from the get-go! "Show of hands", asking questions, and inserting your audience into "what ifs," "imagine thats," and hypothetical situations will get them involved with your presentation.

As a speech introduction example, a presentation about dehydration can benefit from asking the audience if they've already drank their eight glasses of water that day.

Keep this section short and sweet, so you can move on to your actual presentation. Additionally, avoid questions or situations that invite too much audience participation. They could result in the audience forgetting the main idea.

People raising their hands up during a presentation

5. Start With Compelling Hard Data

Shock the audience with compelling hard data: numbers, statistics, and percentages.

Enthralling tidbits of hard data will bring abstract concepts to the real world, which can make them easier to digest. Plus, they'll be memorable and attention-grabbing.

Infographics , maps, timelines, graphics, and charts will give the eyes something to focus on and help the audience visualize your ideas more clearly.

For example, if you're looking for investors, open your speech by telling them the growth percentage of the area you work on. Or if you're talking about the environment you could work with graphic elements to create an infographic like the ones below: 

Ecology Infographics

Learn to make great infographics easily in PowerPoint and Google Slides with these tutorials:

how to write a great introduction to a speech

6. Be Aware of Your Non-Verbal Communication

We’ve all sat through classes or presentations from people who were too nervous, unprepared, or simply weren’t great speakers. Those were masterclasses on what not to do if you want to get people interested in your presentation. 

And a big way of doing that is through your non-verbal communication and body language.

Non-verbal communication refers to your voice (its volume, tone, and rhythm), eye contact, how you move around the space, hand gestures, facial expressions, how you stand, and more. You should be aware and in control of these aspects as you give your speech.

To improve your body language, record yourself going through your presentation. This way, you'll see what you look like and how you sound. With that information, you can find areas you can work on. Turning to friends and family and listening to their feedback can also be incredibly helpful.

Finally, you may want to read this tutorial to learn more about the subject and how to master your body language:

how to write a great introduction to a speech

7. Break the Ice With Powerful Quotes

“To be or not to be.” “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “Imagine all the people…” “E equals MC square.”

These are powerful quotes that anybody could identify with. And they can be a great ice breaker.

Harness the power of these sayings and use them to start your presentation. If you’re working with a popular saying, you’ll get the added advantage that people will know it by heart and will probably finish the quote with you. This means you'll increase engagement. 

Find ways to link those quotes to your subject so you can get into it in a seamless way. Cliché quotes that don't make sense in the context will only lead to confusion and a disconnected audience.

Need help putting together a great quote presentation slide? We've got you covered:

how to write a great introduction to a speech

8. Show and Tell With Props 

Think back to Steve Jobs and the times he unveiled a new Apple device. He didn't just sit on his hands and gave a long, detailed description on how it looked, what it did, and how it worked. He grabbed the iPhone and showed the audience.

This goes to show the advantages of using props that relate to your presentation. They'll make complicated subjects easier to understand. An external element can also make the presentation more fun and entertaining.

As a speech introduction example, if you're in finance, illustrate the concepts you'll be going over with a piggy bank and coins. This adds something special to your speech, which will keep all eyes on you.

Here's another example. In the image below, a doctor employs a mannequin and a volunteer for a CPR demonstration:

medical seminar, healthcare showing CPR

9. State Importance

Finally, this is a tip we mentioned before but it bears repeating. Start by answering the main question: why should your audience pay attention? Are you trying to solve a problem? Do you have a request?

On that subject, be sure to answer the question, “ who? ” Not only, why is the presentation important, but why should they listen to you? What makes you an expert on it? This gives you and your presentation some validity. 

It's a simple tip, but if you do it right, you can engage your audience.

Take Your Presentations to the Next Level With Envato Elements

Need presentation templates, infographics, videos or music to take your presentation to the next level? Look no further than Envato Elements .

Envato Elements has a unique and unbeatable offer. For a low monthly fee, you get access to thousands of premium digital assets. This means you can download as many presentation attention getters as you want!

And here are just a few examples of the type of professional and premium digital items from Envato Elements. These can take your presentation to the next level:

1. Modern Editable Infographics vol. 2

Modern Editable Infographics vol. 2

One of the best ways to get people interested in what you want to say is by sharing informative graphics. Instead of telling them what they want to know, show it to them with a premium infographic template like this one! Here are its features:

  • AI and PDF file types
  • 2 color themes
  • fully editable charts and data
  • vector objects
  • fonts and help guide included

2. Bowman - Creative Keynote

Bowman - Creative Keynote

If you're presenting a project or business that's in the creative sphere, you need to show that through your slides. Letting your personality shine through will help you reach the audience effectively. For instance, this template has interesting shapes, colors, elements, and features that help it stand out:

  • 40 multipurpose slides
  • 16:9 HD widescreen slide format
  • based on Master Slides
  • fully editable text, images, colors, shapes

3. Corporate Piano Royalty-Free Song

Some chill, subdued music can add to your presentation without overwhelming the audience. A royalty-free song like this one can even make any videos or logo stings you may have more powerful.

This main track comes in MP3 and is 2:24 long. It doesn't have any vocals that could interfere with your speech and can be looped as many times as you want.

4. Logo Reveal

Logo Reveal

If what you want to do is mesmerize your audience, make sure to do it with your logo! Share who you are in an impactful way with a logo reveal template like this one. You can easily customize it in After Effects, and you don't need any plugins to do it.

5. MURO - PowerPoint Minimal Template

MURO - Powerpoint Minimal Template

Finally, here's another premium example of the power that can come from having the right presentation template by your side. In this case, we're looking at a minimal, modern, smart slide deck. Muro has:

  • over 115 unique slides
  • 16x9 full HD format 
  • over 500 vector line icons
  • easily and quickly editable in PowerPoint

Enchant Your Audience!

We went through a bunch of good attention fetters for speech introductions, A speech introduction can be tough to get right. It has to capture the attention of the audience and make them want to hear more.

Hopefully, you’ll be a step closer to success with this tutorial and the ideas we shared:

  • and speech introduction examples

Be sure to mix the tips up and play around with them to find the attention getters for speech introductions that work best for you.

Dacia Egurrola

Public Speaking Resources

Self Introduction Speech – How To Write With Examples

First impressions are very important. Whether it is at school, work, or organization, your introduction is an audience’s first real chance to know you. It will have a huge impact on how they perceive you.

But the good news is: You get to control that narrative.

The key to a good self-introduction speech is balance. You want to present your accomplishments but without coming off as bragging. Typically, this type of speech is known as an “icebreaker” as it aims to break the ice and let others know you. This is your chance to establish good credibility.

Fear not! We will help you craft the best introduction speech with our outline, tips, as well as self-introduction speech samples.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Self-introduction Speech Outline

Sample introduction speech topics, sample self introduction speech objectives, write the outline, including hobbies and interests, sell yourself, use short, simple sentences..

What exactly do you need to cover in your introduction speech? You might choose to include a wide variety of information but there are some things you should not miss. Some of them are as follows:

  • What is your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • What are some of your main interests and hobbies?
  • What has been your passion in life?
  • Who has been your role model?
  • Any fun facts that make you stand out.
  • Your credibility or job title.

Tip: If possible you should definitely include a visual aid in the form of pictures to compliment your speech. Pictures of you, your travels, family, or pets are always endearing!

Self Introduction Speech

Writing a self-introduction speech always seems easy at first. Besides, you definitely know yourself the best. However, once you begin writing you can find yourself getting lost. What do you want to include in this speech? So, grab a pen and scan through the topics in the list below. Circle any of the ones that speak to you so that you have a better grasp of what direction you’d like to take with your speech.

  • What event has played an important part in shaping your life? Tell the story and the lesson you’ve learned.
  • What is your goal in life?
  • Where are you from? Is there anything about your culture or traditions that you’d like to share?
  • How do you like to spend your time?
  • What are some of your pet peeves?
  • Do you have any special skills that you’re proud of?
  • What does a day in your shoes feel like?
  • What have been some of the most important milestones in your life?
  • Have there been any difficult times that guided your life?
  • What is a topic you could talk about for hours?
  • What is an object that is dearest to you?
  • What quirks make you the individual you are?

Now that you have an idea on how to draft your outline, here are some objectives for you to tick off.

  • First off, grab their attention. Just because it is your introduction does not mean that your opening has to be plain. Find something catchy and concise.
  • Start with some background. Set up the stage and introduce who you are. Try to present it in chronological order.
  • Build a story. The speech is about you but make sure you build a relatable story to keep the audience’s attention.
  • Show, don’t tell. Instead of saying how reliable you are, tell a story that shows it.
  • For conclusion, try to leave your audience with a takeaway. Whether from your experiences or from a relatable standpoint. Either that or you can build the story leading up to who you are right now and leave the stage on an inspirational note.

How to write a self-introduction speech?

Are you ready to write your self-introduction speech? We’ve got just the steps for you:

The outline of your speech is simply a skeletal draft of your speech. It can initially simply take the form of bullet points. What matters is you figure out what elements are going into the speech. Similarly, figure out what order you will be presenting these elements. Typically icebreakers follow a chronological order so that you can build up to the current you.

It is common to start with your roots. Pick out some childhood traits that are relatable or that make you stand out. You can build on this with stories, talk about your education, and go on to talk about how you got to where you are currently.

If you are introducing yourself in a work setting, make sure you link your interest to your ambition. It will project you in a good light to your superiors and will also make your hobbies a lot more relevant. This is also a great idea to keep your speech concise and to the point. From a professional standpoint, you should follow your hobbies with the steps you are taking to reach the goal. For example, “I’ve always been into sketching, but now I’m taking illustrator courses to put my designing skills to use.”

Your hobbies are a great insight into who you are in your free time. If you’re into a particular niche hobby like bird-watching or pottery, you might even end up finding others in the crowd with similar interests. Similarly, it is a great way to gain credibility on a certain subject.

When people talk about their passion, there is a certain twinkle in their eyes. This is such an endearing quality that is sure to get your audience to respond. Try to give a short insight into you pursuing the hobby or how you came about to discover it in the first place. It is much more effective than simply listing out your interests. Talk about what aspects of the hobby draw you to it. It can help the audience get the bigger picture in getting to know you.

If the icebreaker is being delivered in a much more formal setting, you might want to focus more on your personal skills than your hobbies. The audience there might be more interested in your soft skills than your love of photography.

It might help to list out all your hobbies, interests, and skills along with why you are drawn to those interests. It can help you draw a parallel between them and deliver a much more well-rounded speech.

Knowing a person is an endless process. We’re sure you must have gone through your own journey with highs, lows, milestones and learnings that could be their own feature movies. It can be difficult to decide what exactly gets to make it to the speech when all of it made you who you are. But the longer you pad your introduction, the less are the chances of people actually listening to it.

This is why your self-introduction speech needs to spend a good amount of time on the cutting floor as well. Assess your audience and try to think of it from their perspective. What is relevant? Also, think of the location and if your stories are appropriate for the setting. Make sure you respect the time by picking only the most relevant information and keeping it short.

Even if your usual style is something like self-deprecating humor, for this occasion try to present yourself in a much more positive light. You want to project confidence. This is the impression that most of these people are likely to remember, so make it a good one. Pick your traits and stories well.

A self-introduction speech is almost always a great floor to pitch yourself. When else will you get this open invitation to present yourself to potential clients? Remember, the aim is to boost yourself and not boast about yourself. If you talk too much about what you can do and have done, it is easy to sound pompous and turn people off.

Try to stick to the truth. Instead of listing accomplishments by the dozens, talk about a passion you had and how you turned it into an accomplishment. Stay humble when speaking of future aspirations. And most of all, be grateful. Show appreciation to the people who have helped you so far.

How you sell yourself is not just dependent on the words you speak but also on your delivery. All the words in the world won’t be able to make up for a meek delivery. So make sure you write from your heart as that will be the easiest to deliver. Work on your build-up so that the ending is satisfying. Don’t just give an account for accomplishments by the year. For example: talk about how curious you were about animals from early on, how you got into photography because it lets you keep a moment with you forever, and eventually you got into animal photography. This way, it feels like a complete story.

In a more professional setting, you’d say, “As a freelance photographer, I used my marketing background to promote myself and stayed active in networking. I learned that creativity is wonderful but paired with due diligence, it can get you to much greater heights.” It showcases your skills, your traits, as well as shows you as an individual that is constantly reflecting, learning, and growing. This is the sweet spot you are aiming for.

While we’ve stressed the importance of relatability and humility, it is also important to create your own place on stage. You cannot be yet another person with only music and travel as their interests. Think of things that make you unique.

Put your humble hat aside for a bit. If you’ve assisted in making a big project happen, mention it. Talk about how you’ve led a team through a crisis. Discuss your learning experiences. Present a before and after of a milestone to show how much a role has impacted who you are today. Even if the project wasn’t successful, you can talk about how you’d approach it differently in the present day.

Even for relatively common interests like travel, you can pick unique memories and what aspects of travel have changed you for the better. Take every opportunity to spin a story to showcase a trait or talent. Think of the unique things that make you, you.

It can be easy to get lost in your stories. Try not to ramble too much and stick to the point. When writing your script, use varied sentence structures to keep things interesting. It will help if you read it out loud or record yourself so you can track how you’re doing. Try not to use too much jargon. Keep it simple and clear.

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How to write a good graduation speech: tips for every graduate

Giving an impressive graduation speech is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on fellow graduates and the audience as you proceed to the next phase of life. As you stand before your graduating class, you can ignite a spark of motivation, instil a sense of purpose, and propel your peers toward their future endeavours. Discover what to say in a graduation speech for a unique and unforgettable address.

A graduate during a graduation ceremony

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. choose your theme, 2. determine your audience, 3. write an outline, 4. keep it brief, 5. use humour wisely, 6. personalize your speech, 7. end on a high note, 8. practice, practice, practice, senior speech ideas, things to avoid when writing a graduation speech, what is the most essential message of a graduation speech.

Writing a graduation speech can be daunting, but it is also an opportunity to celebrate your achievements and inspire your classmates. However, this comes with pressure as you may not know what to say. But you need not worry; the graduation speech ideas below will help you develop enchanting themes.

How to write a graduation speech

Public speaking can be nerve-racking, especially when the audience is mixed with different people , including friends, colleagues, family, and seniors. The key steps below will help you deliver a truly unforgettable graduation speech.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

2222 angel number meaning for love, career and money

Narrow your speech around a central theme to inspire the audience. EssayPro states to develop good graduation speech themes, consider the lessons you have learned along the way and your experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. Write down these ideas, narrow them to the relevant points, and deliver them meaningfully and inspiringly to your audience.

Graduates celebrating after graduation

Consider who you will speak to and what they might be interested in. In a high school graduation, you may focus more on the challenges and opportunities of going to college . A college speech may concentrate more on values, networking, and building professional relationships. Communication coach Alexander Lyon stated the importance of determining your audience. He said:

One of the best things you can do is to tailor your speech to the interests of your audience. The more you customize your message the more likely your message will hit that target.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

919 meaning: Here is what this angel number means for your life

Create a detailed outline with specific points to include in your address. The outline should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. This will help you stay focused and ensure your speech flows smoothly.

Infuse your speech with your emotions, personality, and unique perspective, creating an authentic and heartfelt reflection of your journey. A well-organized outline will make your speech flow easily and ensure a clear, logical structure.

Graduates having a good time

Graduation ceremonies are engaging, and the audience has to listen to multiple speeches. Also, most graduation speeches are generally 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes can be shorter. Thus, keep your speech short and focus on delivering a few key points effectively.

Humour makes a speech memorable and helps the speaker connect better with the audience. However, it would be best not to overdo it or use inappropriate jokes . You can also incorporate inspirational quotes, which add depth and meaning to a speech.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

1144 meaning: What this angel number means for you

The correct motivational quote will tie into your theme and serve as a message the audience will take from your words. Always observe the tone and theme of the event.

Your speech should reflect your voice and experiences. Graduation speeches are more impactful when personal and relatable; thus, include your stories to make them more engaging and meaningful. You should also acknowledge the impact of other people, such as teachers, parents, and mentors, on shaping the graduates’ lives.

A graduate giving a speech

The ideal way to end a graduation speech is with an inspiring call to action or a memorable quote. This approach leaves a lasting impact on your audience.

The best way to ensure your speech flows, makes sense, and holds people’s attention is through constant practice and reading it aloud. Once you have perfected it, ask a friend or family to serve as an audience; this will build confidence and help polish your message.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

133 angel number: what it means for your love life and career

Pay attention to your pacing, volume, and body language, and ensure you speak clearly and confidently. This will help you become more familiar with and deliver your message smoothly.

Some of the senior graduation speech ideas include:

  • Finding Our Path: Lessons in Choosing Majors
  • Learning from Setbacks: Embracing Failure
  • Celebrating Diversity on Campus
  • Strength in Unity: The Power of Collaboration
  • Bouncing Back from Challenges

A graduate giving a speech

When composing a graduation speech, be sensitive as people pursue different paths after graduation. Some of the things to avoid include:

  • False information
  • Sexual innuendos
  • Racial or ethnic jokes
  • Insults to individuals or groups
  • Avoid cliché
  • Do not be self-centred
  • Avoid jargon or complicated language

Graduation speeches are a golden opportunity to reflect on the journey, celebrate achievements, and inspire the graduating class as they enter the outside world . Therefore, the key is inspiring and motivating graduates as they pursue their dreams and positively impact the world.

how to write a great introduction to a speech

How to write a diary entry: A simple guide for beginners

Writing a graduation speech can be challenging but rewarding. By following the above tips, you can develop a meaningful and memorable speech that inspires your classmates and touches your audience.

READ ALSO : How to write a proposal letter: A step-by-step guide and example

Briefly.co.za published an article on how to write a proposal letter. Proposal letters are essential in business, as they give insights into a potential concept or idea without going into too much detail.

A proposal letter can provide a more thought-out process for a project and allow others to look at it with fresh eyes. It also gives all team members the same level of understanding about what is needed to make the project successful. Here is a step-by-step guide and an example.

Source: Briefly News

Bennett Yates (Lifestyle writer) Bennett Yates is a content creator with over five years of working experience in journalism and copywriting. He graduated from the University of Nairobi (2017) with a Bachelor's in Information Technology. In 2023, Bennett finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. He started working for Briefly in 2019. You can reach him via email at [email protected].

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Blogs / Creative Writing / Character Template for Fiction Writing

Character Template for Fiction Writing

Ever felt like your characters are about as flat as a soda left out overnight? Yeah, me too. But fear not, fellow word-wranglers! I’ve got a secret weapon that’ll save your literary bacon: character templates. 

For this task, you must become a literary Sherlock Holmes (deerstalker cap optional, but highly recommended). Your mission? To crack the case of what makes them tick, uncover the skeletons rattling in their closet (figurative or literal—we don’t judge), and piece together the puzzle of their personality.

By the time we’re done, you’ll be crafting characters so vivid, you might just find yourself setting an extra place at your dinner table—just in case they decide to pop in for a chat.

What Is a Character Profile Template?

Character profile templates are structured frameworks that help you organize and develop every juicy detail of your fictional personas’ lives. It’s the ultimate cheat sheet, ensuring you’ve got the inside scoop on your character from their deepest, darkest fears to their most adorable quirks.

But wait, there’s more! (Cue infomercial voice.) This isn’t just about filling in blanks on a form. Oh no, dear writer. It’s about crafting living, breathing characters that leap off the page and possibly karate-chop their way into your readers’ hearts. 

Character Bio Template

This nifty tool is essentially a detailed questionnaire that helps you flesh out your characters. It’s the literary equivalent of speed dating your own creations, asking all the burning questions that make a character tick. 

From basic stats to deep, dark secrets, a good character bio template covers all the bases. It’s not just about filling in blanks; it’s about crafting a living, breathing persona that’ll leap off the page and possibly raid your fridge at 2 AM.

  • Name and Nicknames: What’s in a name? Everything, darling! From the sophisticated Penelope Poshington III to good ol’ Bubba. A name sets the stage. And those nicknames? They’re the secret sauce of relationships. Is your character a “Shorty,” “Boss,” or “Stinky”? Each one tells a tale.
  • Date of Birth and Place: Not just for astrology buffs! This nugget of info plants your character firmly in time and space. Was little Timmy born during the Summer of Love or in the middle of the Great Depression? In New York or Timbuktu? These details shape worldviews, folks.
  • Occupation and Education: From high school dropouts to PhD holders, burger flippers to brain surgeons—a character’s CV speaks volumes. It’s not just about fancy titles; it’s about life experiences that mold their perspective.
  • Personality Traits: Is your character the life of the party or more likely to be found in a quiet corner with a book? A glass-half-full optimist or a “we’re all doomed” pessimist? Mix and match for maximum intrigue!
  • Habits/Mannerisms: Here’s where the fun really begins. Does your hero have a nervous tick? A catchphrase? Maybe they can’t start the day without singing in the shower or insist on alphabetizing their spice rack. These quirks are the sprinkles on your character sundae—utterly delicious and oh-so-memorable.
  • Relationships: No character is an island (unless you’re writing a very niche Robinson Crusoe fanfiction). Family, friends, enemies, lovers—this web of connections defines how your character moves through the world. Are they a social butterfly or a lone wolf? The life of the party or the wallflower?

Character Description Template

A character description template can turn that vague blob in your mind into a vivid, jaw-dropping character that your readers can practically high-five.

The key is balance. You don’t need to describe every eyelash—unless those eyelashes are crucial to the plot. (Eyelash assassin, anyone?) Give your readers enough to spark their imagination, but leave room for them to fill in some blanks.

  • Height and Weight : Is your character a towering giant or more vertically challenged? Built like a linebacker or a stringbean? Remember, in the land of fiction, there’s no BMI shaming—just glorious variety!
  • Hair Color and Style : From fiery red manes to distinguished silver foxes, hair can speak volumes. Is it a carefully coiffed masterpiece or a bird’s nest that’s seen better days? And don’t forget those eyebrows—the oft-forgotten punctuation of the face!
  • Eye Color : Windows to the soul, portals of emotion, or just really cool orbs in their face? Whether they’re piercing blue, warm brown, or an otherworldly purple (hello, fantasy writers!), eyes can captivate readers.
  • Facial Features : Chiseled jawlines, button noses, scars with mysterious origins—it’s all fair game. Want a character with a crooked smile that makes hearts melt? Or perhaps a perpetual scowl that could curdle milk? The face is your playground!
  • Build : Ah, the body. Athletic and toned? Soft and cuddly? Or perhaps they have the muscular build of someone who frequently wrestles alligators (hey, it could happen). 
  • Clothing Style : Fashionista or fashion disaster? Does your character rock designer labels or live in the same ratty t-shirt? Remember, clothes don’t just make the man (or woman, or non-binary individual)—they tell a story.
  • Posture and Movement : Is your character a graceful gazelle or more of a lumbering bear? Do they sashay, saunter, or stumble? The way a character moves can be as telling as a monologue.

Character Introduction Template

The character introduction template, or as I like to call it, “How to make your character’s grand entrance so epic, readers will need sunglasses,” is where you set the stage, drop the mic, and make your character strut their stuff like they own the joint.

The goal is to make your character’s introduction so compelling that readers will be yelling “Encore!” and flipping pages faster than a caffeinated squirrel. Whether your character saunters in with a wink and a grin or crash-lands in the middle of chaos, make it count! Your character is stepping into the spotlight, and you want your readers leaning forward in their seats, popcorn forgotten, completely entranced.

  • Introduction Scene: This is your character’s catwalk moment. Are they bursting through doors guns blazing or quietly sipping tea in the corner? Maybe they’re hanging upside down from a chandelier (hey, you do you). The key is to make an impression that sticks.
  • Initial Impressions : First impressions are like literary speed dating. What will other characters (and readers) notice first? A dazzling smile? A menacing scowl? The fact that they’re covered in glitter and feathers? (Again, no judgment here.) Give us something to ooh and aah over.
  • Role in the Story: Is your character the hero who’ll save the day, the sidekick with snappy one-liners, or the villain twirling their mustache? Maybe they’re the mysterious stranger or the comic relief. Whatever their role, hint at it early to whet your readers’ appetites.
  • Immediate Goals: What does your character want right off the bat? A sandwich? World domination? To find the bathroom? Their initial objectives can speak volumes about who they are and what drives them.
  • Reaction of Others: How do other characters respond to this new arrival? Are they swooning, cowering, or rolling their eyes? The way others react can tell us a lot about your character’s reputation and presence.
  • Foreshadowing: Sprinkle in some hints about future events or character development. Maybe there’s a flicker of vulnerability in the tough guy’s eyes, or a shadow of doubt crosses the face of the seemingly confident hero.

Character Backstory Template

This is where we unearth all the delicious, sometimes dirty, always fascinating details that made your character who they are today. It’s like a time machine, but with fewer paradoxes and more childhood traumas!

Crafting a backstory is like making a fine soup—you don’t need to serve every ingredient to the reader, but they should be able to taste the richness. 

  • Early Life: Ah, the wonder years! Was your character a precocious prodigy or more of a “set the kitchen on fire trying to make toast” kind of kid? Maybe they were raised by wolves (literally or figuratively). These formative years are the bedrock of personality, so make ’em count!
  • Family Background: Time for some family tree shaking! Are we talking picture-perfect Cleavers or more Addams Family vibes? Perhaps a dash of royal lineage or a pinch of circus performers? Family dynamics can explain a lot about why your character flinches at the sound of kazoos or has an irrational fear of picket fences.
  • Major Life Events: This is where you play life event bingo. First kiss? Check. Embarrassing school talent show incident? Check. Accidentally started a small revolution? Double check! These pivotal moments are the plot twists in your character’s personal novella.
  • Traumas and Joys: Ah, the emotional rollercoaster! What made your character ugly cry into a pint of ice cream? What had them grinning like they just won the lottery? These peaks and valleys sculpt the emotional landscape of your character.
  • Turning Points: Every life has its plot twists. What made your character pull a 180? Was it a near-death experience, a particularly moving fortune cookie, or realizing they look terrible in horizontally striped shirts? These are the moments that divide life into “before” and “after.”
  • Secrets and Regrets: Ooh, now we’re getting to the good stuff! What skeletons are rattling around in your character’s closet? What’s that one thing they’d rather take to the grave? Secrets add depth, and regrets humanize—use them liberally!

How to Use Character Templates

Alright, literary maestros, you’ve got your shiny new character templates in hand. Now what? Fear not! I’m about to guide you through the treacherous jungles of character creation with the finesse of a caffeinated jungle guide. Here are some tips on using character templates.

Use Them for All Characters

Yes, all of them. Even that guy who appears for two sentences to deliver a pizza. Okay, maybe not him, but definitely any character who hangs around for more than a page. You never know when that seemingly minor character might demand their own spinoff series!

Reference Often

Keep your templates close and your characters closer. Pin them to your wall, set them as your phone background, tattoo them on your— okay, maybe not that last one. Refer to them regularly to keep your characters consistent. Nothing ruins a story faster than your blue-eyed hero suddenly sporting brown eyes in chapter 12.

Update as Needed

Characters grow—sometimes in ways we don’t expect. Did your timid wallflower suddenly find their voice and tell off the school bully? Update that template! Think of it as your character’s personal Wikipedia page—always evolving, occasionally vandalized by mischievous plot twists.

Mix and Match

Feel free to Frankenstein your templates. Maybe you love the backstory section from one template but prefer the personality breakdown from another. 

Use Them as Brainstorming Tools

Stuck on a plot point? Consult your character templates! Sometimes the solution is hiding in your hero’s childhood fear of clowns or your villain’s secret passion for knitting.

Stay Flexible

Remember, your character template isn’t the Ten Commandments—it’s more like a treasure map with some smudged sections. As you write, your characters might surprise you. Maybe your stern librarian suddenly reveals a passion for underground rap battles. Roll with it! Let your characters evolve organically, even if it means scribbling all over your pristine template.

Share with Your Writing Buddies

Turn template-filling into a party game! Swap partially completed templates with writing friends and see what wild directions they take your characters. Who knows? You might discover your gruff detective has a hidden talent for balloon animals.

The Power of Character Templates

Using character templates can transform your writing process, making your characters more vivid and your storytelling more cohesive. Think of them as your secret weapon in crafting unforgettable stories.

Remember, at the end of the day, these templates are here to serve you, not the other way around. Use them as a springboard for your imagination, a safety net for consistency, and occasionally as a coaster for your third cup of writing fuel (aka coffee).

So go forth, you brilliant character wranglers! May your templates be ever flexible, your characters ever surprising, and your writing sessions ever productive. And if all else fails, just ask yourself: What would my character do? (Just maybe don’t ask that when deciding whether to have that fourth slice of pizza.)

About the National Archives

National Archives Logo

University of California, Irvine, Commencement Address

Thank you so much for the kind introduction. 

I’m delighted to be here today––with all of you––Class of 2024; my good friend Dean Jon Gould; parents and family members; and the alumni and faculty of UC Irvine. Congratulations to everyone and well done!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to all of our first generation graduates. You know who you are. I am a First Gen graduate, too. You overcame additional obstacles to make it here today. Take pride in your accomplishments; but never forget the communities where you began your journey.

In case you missed it in the rush to get here this morning, it’s also Fathers Day! A special shout-out to all the fathers in the audience––I spoke to my Dad earlier today and thanked him for everything he did to get me where I am today.

So here’s a ‘dad joke’ in honor of all you UC Irvine dads:  

          Why don’t anteaters ever get sick?

          Their anty-bodies keep them healthy! 

In all seriousness, today, we celebrate the achievements of our graduates; but most of you wouldn’t be here without the love, support, encouragement, and faith of your family and friends. 

Hold them close as you move on into the world! 

There’s so much I could speak about today!

I could tell you about my journey to becoming the 11th Archivist of the United States, which is quite a tale.

I could talk about the National Archives itself, an amazing institution that preserves and protects our nation’s history.

Or I could talk about any one of the many important, pressing issues our country faces today––such as immigration reform, the environment, foreign policy, or the economy.

Instead, I’ve chosen to take a step back and talk about something more basic and even more critical. And that is the health of democracy today.

You will soon leave the familiar home you’ve built here in Irvine. You may return to where you grew up, attend another school, or move someplace new to start a career. 

No matter what your next step is, it’s now time to put everything you’ve learned into practice. For some of you, it could be a career in public service. For others, you might join the private sector or the military.

Regardless of where you go, I urge you to become engaged in the decisions affecting your life and the lives of others. It could be on the local, state, or national level, and it doesn’t have to necessarily involve politics.

We talk a lot about civics education, and how we can teach civics better. That is critical. Yet, even if this country did a perfect job in educating young people about our democracy and how it works, none of that will matter if a new generation of citizens aren’t engaged in its execution.

Democracies––in the United States and other parts of the world––aren’t self-executing. The United States has been around for almost 250 years, and some of us might take it for granted.

It’s always been there, and it always will.

And I’m telling you as a political scientist, that is a dangerous misconception. 

You’re here today to receive your diploma because you did the hard work. Once you were accepted to UC Irvine, it wasn’t just a matter of showing up. You had to put time and effort into your classes. 

That’s the same as a democracy. According to the Declaration of Independence that sits right around the corner from my office, human beings have “unalienable rights.” What does that mean? It means those rights are inherent to us and cannot be taken away. 

But there is no guarantee that we will always have a democratic government that will recognize and protect those rights. The only way that will continue is if we work hard to keep our democracy and keep it healthy. 

So, how do we do this? What can we do? How can we meet this challenge?

First, wherever you end up, register to vote. I moved around a bit after school, and when I finally landed where I live in Arlington, Virginia, I figured out how to register so that I wouldn’t miss an election. And I haven’t missed an election. If I’m going to be out of town, I vote early or vote absentee. It’s your responsibility to do this and to make yourself aware of the voting laws and requirements of the jurisdiction where you live.

Now, voting is critical, but it’s really the bare minimum. And as UC Irvine graduates, I know you’ll want to shine brighter! 

The next step is to educate yourself. And I’m telling you, it takes commitment. You won’t know everything about your local community, and all of a sudden, you’re going to be asked to make decisions about candidates you’ve never met or haven’t heard of before. 

That means doing a new kind of homework––let’s call it civics homework. Democracy requires lifelong learning for it to function properly.

I’m not telling you how to vote or who to vote for. But what I am asking is that you make educated and conscious choices.

We live in a world in which we communicate instantaneously. I wrote letters to my parents when I was in college––yes, I’m that old! Email was only getting off the ground, and not everyone had access to the internet. 

No matter where your life takes you, take solace in the fact that you can keep in touch with your family and each other in ways that were unimaginable only 30 years ago.

However, with technology also comes the threat of disinformation. When James Madison defended the Constitution in the Federalist Papers, he argued that discord would not coalesce in  a large democracy like the United States. Madison’s rationale no longer holds. 

The antidote is doing the hard work of citizenship––spending the time to self-educate to prevent disinformation from taking hold. We do not need to have a defeatist attitude about these challenges if we take these democratic responsibilities seriously.

And lastly, I hope you will consider getting involved in public life - whether that means engaging in politics, government service, volunteerism, civic organizations, or a faith-based initiative. 

The world isn’t going to fix itself, and democracy isn’t inevitable. We have to roll up our sleeves and accept our responsibilities so that we can continue to protect the rights and freedoms we have. 

When I first got a call from the White House about serving as the Archivist of the United States, although I was honored to be considered for the role, it wasn’t the best timing.

I had an excellent job at the White House Historical Association, where I made a very generous salary and supervised a fully functioning team with no major problems or concerns. And, more importantly, I had just finished 12 rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer. So there were plenty of reasons to say “no, thank you–– this isn’t the right time for me.”

But when I thought about the opportunity to serve in this role, I knew I had to do it. If not me, then who? And if not now, then when?

We never know what life has in store for us and how we might be asked to serve. And sometimes, it might simply be impossible. 

However, if we all do our part and answer the call as well as we can when democracy knocks on the door, then the future is indeed bright.

There is plenty of pessimism in the world today. And I can tell you from experience that if you think you can’t do something, then you’re right. But the moment that mindset changes, then you’re in the game. 

We think of moral duties in a lot of different ways. We have a moral duty to our family, our beliefs, our closest friends. But we haven’t thought as much lately about the moral duty to preserve democracy. 

Everyone needs to play a role to fulfill this duty, and that role may change appreciably throughout your life. There will be many twists and turns, but don’t forget it, and don’t take it for granted.

In closing, I challenge you to lead an active life for democracy––not a passive one. Hold our elected and appointed leaders accountable for their actions, and use the records we hold in trust at the National Archives to do so. 

And when opportunities to lead knock on your door, don’t be afraid to answer the call, even if it means taking a risk or sacrificing short-term gains. 

When Ben Franklin left the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, he was asked what type of government had been created for the United States. He famously responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Let’s answer Franklin’s call and do our part collectively to keep our democracy strong.

Congratulations Anteaters!  Your future is bright!

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how to write a great introduction to a speech

Chancellor Rachel Reeves is taking immediate action to fix the foundations of our economy

In her first speech as Chancellor, Rachel Reeves laid out plans to rebuild Britain and make every part of the country better off.

Rachel Reeves in front of the Union Jack.

Good morning.

Last week, the British people voted for change.

And over the last 72 hours I have begun the work necessary to deliver on that mandate.

Our manifesto was clear:

Sustained economic growth is the only route to the improved prosperity that country needs and the living standards of working people.

Where previous governments have been unwilling to take the difficult decisions to deliver growth…

… or have waited too long to act…

… I will not hesitate.

Growth [political content removed]. It is now our national mission.

There is no time to waste.

This morning I want to outline the first steps [political content removed] taken to fix the foundations of our economy.

So we can rebuild Britain and make every part of our country better off.

But first, let me address the inheritance.

I have repeatedly warned that whoever won the general election would inherit the worst set of circumstances since the Second World War.

What I have seen in the past 72 hours has only confirmed that.

Our economy has been held back by decisions deferred and decisions ducked.

Political self-interest put ahead of the national interest.

A government that put party first, country second.

We face the legacy of fourteen years of chaos and economic irresponsibility.  

That is why over the weekend I instructed Treasury officials to provide an assessment of the state of our spending inheritance so that I can understand the scale of the challenge. And I will present this to Parliament before the summer recess. 

This will be separate from a Budget that will be held later this year – and I will confirm the date of that Budget, alongside a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, in due course.

All governments face difficult choices – and I will not shrink from those choices.

Those choices are made harder, however, by the absence of the economic growth necessary to not only balance the books but also to improve living standards.

New Treasury analysis that I requested over the weekend shows that, had the UK economy grown at the average rate of other OECD economies this last 13 years, our economy would have been over £140 billion larger.

This could have brought in an additional £58 billion in tax revenues in the last year alone. That’s money that could have revitalised our schools, our hospitals, and other public services.

Growth requires difficult choices – choices that previous governments have shied away from.

And it now falls to [political content removed] fix the foundations.

We have promised a new approach to growth – one fit for a changed world.

That approach will rest on three pillars – stability, investment, and reform.

Let me turn first to stability.

In the run-up to the general election, I set out the crucial first steps in our economic plans:

To deliver economic stability, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.

And that commitment stands.

I emphasised this commitment in a meeting with the Governor of the Bank of England on Friday, and I will do the same when I meet the chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility this week.

These institutions are guarantors of our economic stability and I will not be playing games at their expense.

Over the weekend I made clear to Treasury officials that the manifesto commitments that we were elected on will be kept to and they will be delivered on.

That includes robust fiscal rules.

And it includes our commitments to no increases in National Insurance, and the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax, or VAT.

Now I know there are some who will argue that the time for caution is past.

[Political content removed].

That a large majority in Parliament means we have the licence to row back on the principles of sound money and economic responsibility.

I know that many of you aren’t used to hearing this after recent years. But I believe that the promises that a party is elected on should be delivered on in government and we will do so.

We do not take lightly the trust of voters who have been burned too often by incompetence, irresponsibility, and recklessness.

And to investors and businesses who have spent fourteen years doubting whether Britain is a safe place to invest, then let me tell you:

After fourteen years, Britain has a stable government. A government that respects business, wants to partner with business, and is open for business.

In an uncertain world, Britain is a place to do business.

Let me turn to how we will unlock private investment that we so desperately need.

[Political content removed] …plans to launch a new National Wealth Fund, with a remit to invest – and so to catalyse private sector investment – in new and growing industries.

And in March, the former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, agreed to lead a Taskforce on the establishment of a new National Wealth Fund.

I can tell you today that I have received the report from that Taskforce, and I will be announcing the next steps in short order.

Alongside investment must come reform.

Because the question is not whether we want growth, but how strong is our resolve – how prepared are we to make hard choices and face down the vested interests;

How willing, even, to risk short-term political pain to fix Britain’s foundations.

The story of the last fourteen years has been a refusal to confront the tough and responsible decisions that are demanded.

This government will be different.

And there is no time to waste.

Nowhere is decisive reform needed more urgently than in the case of our planning system.

Planning reform has become a byword for political timidity in the face of vested interests and a graveyard of economic ambition.

Our antiquated planning system leaves too many important projects getting tied up in years and years of red tape before shovels ever get into the ground.

We promised to put planning reform at the centre of our political argument – and we did.

We said we would grasp the nettle of planning reform – and we are doing so.

Today I can tell you that work is underway.

Over the weekend, I met with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to agree the urgent action needed to fix our planning system.

Today, alongside the Deputy Prime Minister, I am taking immediate action to deliver this [political content removed] government’s mission to kickstart economic growth;

And to take the urgent steps necessary to build the infrastructure that we need, including one and a half million homes over the next five years.

The system needs a new signal. This is that signal.

First, we will reform the National Planning Policy Framework, consulting on a new growth-focused approach to the planning system before the end of the month, including restoring mandatory housing targets.

And, as of today, we are ending the absurd ban on new onshore wind in England. We will also go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, meaning decisions on large developments will be taken nationally not locally.

Second, we will give priority to energy projects in the system to ensure they make swift progress…

… and we will build on the spatial plan for Energy by expanding this to other infrastructure sectors.  

Third, we will create a new taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites in our country…

…beginning with Liverpool Central Docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield, representing more than 14,000 homes.

Fourth, we will also support local authorities with 300 additional planning officers across the country.

Fifth, if we are to put growth at the centre of our planning system, that means changes not only to the system itself, but to the way that ministers use our powers for direct intervention.

The Deputy Prime Minister has said that when she intervenes in the economic planning system, the benefit of development will be a central consideration and that she will not hesitate to review an application where the potential gain for the regional and national economies warrant it.

… and I welcome her decision to recover two planning appeals already, for data centres in Buckinghamshire and in Hertfordshire.

To facilitate this new approach, the Deputy Prime Minister will also write to local mayors and the Office for Investment to ensure that any investment opportunity with important planning considerations that comes across their desks is brought to her attention and also to mine.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also write to Local Planning Authorities alongside the National Planning Policy Framework consultation, making clear what will now be expected of them…

…including universal coverage of local plans, and reviews of greenbelt boundaries. These will prioritise Brownfield and grey belt land for development to meet housing targets where needed.

And our golden rules will make sure the development this frees up will allow us to deliver thousands of the affordable homes too, including more for social rent.

Sixth, as well as unlocking new housing, we will also reform the planning system to deliver the infrastructure that our country needs.

Together, [political content removed] we will ask the Secretaries of State for Transport and Energy Security and Net Zero to prioritise decisions on infrastructure projects that have been sitting unresolved for far too long.

And finally, we will set out new policy intentions for critical infrastructure in the coming months, ahead of updating relevant National Policy Statements within the year.

I know that there will be opposition to this.

I’m not naïve to that;

And we must acknowledge that trade offs always exist: any development may have environmental consequences, place pressure on services, and rouse voices of local opposition.

But we will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying no, and relegates the national interest below other priorities.

We will make those tough decisions, to realise that mandate. 

Be in no doubt – we are going to get Britain building again.

We are going to get Britain’s economy growing again.

We will end the prevarication and make the necessary choices to fix the foundations:

We will introduce a modern industrial strategy, to create good work and drive investment in all of our communities.

We will reform our skills system, for a changing world of work.

We will tackle economic inactivity and get people back to work.

We will take on the hard work of reforming our public services, to make them fit for the future.

We will work closely with our national, regional and local leaders to power growth in every part of Britain.

And we will turn our attention to the pensions system, to drive investment in homegrown businesses and deliver greater returns to pension savers.

I know the voters’ trust cannot be repaid through slogans or gimmicks – only through action, only through delivery.

The Treasury I lead is proceeding on that basis.

I was appointed to this post less than 72 hours ago.

Upon my arrival, I told Treasury staff that the work starts straight away.

That work has begun.

I have commissioned and received economic analysis from HMT officials on the lost growth of the past 14 years, which I have set out today.

I have instructed Treasury officials to prepare an assessment of the state of our spending inheritance, to be presented to Parliament before the summer recess.

I have started working with the Prime Minister, to make the necessary preparations for the establishment of a Growth Mission Board, and that board will meet before summer recess, focused squarely on reviving our country’s economic growth and prosperity

I have established a new Growth Delivery Unit here, at the heart of  the Treasury.

I have received the recommendations of the National Wealth Fund Taskforce, and will shortly be announcing next steps.

There is much more to do.

More tough decisions to be taken.

You have put your trust in us.

And we will repay that trust.

The work towards a decade of national renewal has begun.

And we are just getting started.

Thank you very much.

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IMAGES

  1. FREE 36+ Introduction Speech Samples in PDF

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  2. FREE 51+ Introduction Speech Samples & Template in PDF, Word

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  3. Good Introduction Speeches

    how to write a great introduction to a speech

  4. FREE 51+ Introduction Speech Samples & Template in PDF, Word

    how to write a great introduction to a speech

  5. Introduction Speech

    how to write a great introduction to a speech

  6. 10+ Introductory Speech Examples

    how to write a great introduction to a speech

VIDEO

  1. Presentation Tips

  2. Good Sermon Introductions and Speech Openings

  3. Greatest Speech Introduction Ever

  4. How To Write an Introduction Paragraph

  5. Communications Class: Introduction Speech!

  6. Brene Brown Secrets on How to Start a Speech

COMMENTS

  1. How to write a speech introduction: 12 of the best ways to start

    9. It's in the news. Take headlines from what's trending in media you know the audience will be familiar with and see. Using those that relate to your speech topic as the opening of your speech is a good way to grab the attention of the audience. It shows how relevant and up-to-the-minute the topic is. For example:

  2. How to Write an Introduction Speech: 7 Easy Steps & Examples

    Write down any relevant achievements, expertise, or credentials to include in your speech. Encourage the audience to connect with you using relatable anecdotes or common interests. Rehearse and Edit. Practice your introduction speech to ensure it flows smoothly and stays within the time frame.

  3. 15 Powerful Speech Opening Lines (And How to Create Your Own)

    Analyze their response and tweak the joke accordingly if necessary. Starting your speech with humour means your setting the tone of your speech. It would make sense to have a few more jokes sprinkled around the rest of the speech as well as the audience might be expecting the same from you. 4. Mohammed Qahtani.

  4. Your Speech's Introduction: How to Make It Powerful

    4) Give Them a Roadmap of Your Journey Together. So let's review. You've hooked your listeners' attention, made your topic sound intriguing, and told them how it's going to improve their lives. You're ready for the final part of your introduction: giving them a roadmap of where you'll be going together.

  5. 8 Opening a Speech: Get Their Attention from the Start!

    Typical Patterns for Speech Openings. Get the audience's attention-called a hook or a grabber. Establish rapport and tell the audience why you care about the topic of why you are credible to speak on the topic. Introduce the speech thesis/preview/good idea. Tell the audience why they should care about this topic.

  6. How to Write a Good Speech: 10 Steps and Tips

    Create an outline: Develop a clear outline that includes the introduction, main points, supporting evidence, and a conclusion. Share this outline with the speaker for their input and approval. Write in the speaker's voice: While crafting the speech, maintain the speaker's voice and style.

  7. 8 Effective Introductions and Powerful Conclusions

    The introduction of a speech is incredibly important because it needs to establish the topic and purpose, set up the reason your audience should listen to you and set a precedent for the rest of the speech. ... We strongly believe that it is worthwhile to invest some time in framing and writing a good thesis statement. You may even want to ...

  8. 7 ways for opening a speech! The perfect speech introduction

    3. Inspire your audience with storytelling. A particularly powerful way to start is to share a story or personal real life experience with your audience at the beginning of your presentation. With a personal story, you create compelling moments and build an emotional connection with your audience.

  9. 9.3 Putting It Together: Steps to Complete Your Introduction

    The first step in writing a good thesis statement was originally discussed in Chapter 6 "Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic ... Fill out the introduction worksheet to help work through your introduction for your next speech. Please make sure that you answer all the questions clearly and concisely. Previous/next navigation. Previous: 9.2 ...

  10. Introduction Speech: a 'how to', with an example speech

    2. Check the length of your speech. Pertinent and pithy: a short speech is what you want. One to two minutes should be enough. Test it out loud with a timer and trim if necessary. My example speech is 171 words long. That will take approximately 1 minute 30 seconds to say depending on the speaker's rate of speech.

  11. Speech Introductions

    The introduction gives the audience a reason to listen to the remainder of the speech. A good introduction needs to get the audience's attention, state the topic, make the topic relatable, establish credibility, and preview the main points. Introductions should be the last part of the speech written, as they set expectations and need to match ...

  12. How to Start a Speech: 7 Tips and Examples for a Captivating Opening

    4. Make them laugh. Injecting a little humor into your opening line puts everyone at ease and makes your speech more memorable. Just make sure your joke is relevant and doesn't offend your audience. Example: "They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if the doctor is cute, forget the fruit!". 5.

  13. How to write a good speech [7 easily followed steps]

    Tell them (Body of your speech - the main ideas plus examples) Tell them what you told them (The ending) TEST before presenting. Read aloud several times to check the flow of material, the suitability of language and the timing. Return to top. A step by step guide for writing a great speech.

  14. How to Write the Perfect Speech Introduction

    A final word about your Speech Introduction. The speech introduction may seem like only one part of your speech. It may seem like an ornamental or unimportant part of your speech. But a great speech introduction can be the most important part of your speech. It can win the audience over and give you confidence to powr through the rest of the ...

  15. 26 Ways To Start a Speech and Capture People's Attention

    Here are 26 different techniques for beginning your speech: 1. Use a quote. One method of starting a speech and gaining the audience's attention is to use a famous or relatable quote. This approach can give your audience context for your topic and connect it to something they recognize. For instance, if you plan to give a speech on a political ...

  16. Make A Speech Introduction That Grabs Audience Attention

    The speech introduction is the first part of a speech and the first opportunity to grab the audience's attention. The speaker should state the topic, make it relatable to the audience, establish credibility and preview the main points. You should write or finalize your introduction at the end so that it reflects what you actually said.

  17. Introduction Speech

    Example: "Good afternoon, everyone.". 2. Self-Introduction (if introducing yourself) State your name and your role or position. Example: "My name is [Your Name], and I am [your position, e.g., 'the new marketing manager'].". 3. Purpose of the Speech. Explain why you are speaking and the context of the event.

  18. How to Start a Speech: The Best Ways to Capture Your Audience

    1) Thank the Organizers and Audience. You can start by thanking the audience for coming and thanking the organization for inviting you to speak. Refer to the person who introduced you or to one or more of the senior people in the organization in the audience. This compliments them, makes them feel proud and happy about your presence, and ...

  19. Speeches

    Ethos refers to an appeal to your audience by establishing your authenticity and trustworthiness as a speaker. If you employ pathos, you appeal to your audience's emotions. Using logos includes the support of hard facts, statistics, and logical argumentation. The most effective speeches usually present a combination these rhetorical strategies.

  20. How to Start a Speech: The Best (and Worst) Speech Openers

    Opening Line: "All right. I'm going to show you a couple of images from a very diverting paper in The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.". #6: Julian Treasure - "How to Speak so that People Want to Listen". Opening Line: "The human voice: It's the instrument we all play.". #7: Jill Bolte Taylor - "My Stroke of Insight".

  21. 9 Good Attention Getters for Speech Introductions

    Learn how to write a speech introduction to get your audience's attention. Image source: Envato Elements. If you feel a little bit lost in the matter, fear not! This tutorial is here to help you out. We'll go over: how to write a speech introduction; what makes a speech introduction good; good attention getters for speeches

  22. Self Introduction Speech

    The key to a good self-introduction speech is balance. You want to present your accomplishments but without coming off as bragging. Typically, this type of speech is known as an "icebreaker" as it aims to break the ice and let others know you. This is your chance to establish good credibility. Fear not!

  23. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction in 4 Steps

    Steps to write a research paper introduction. By following the steps below, you can learn how to write an introduction for a research paper that helps readers "shake hands" with your topic. In each step, thinking about the answers to key questions can help you reach your readers. 1. Get your readers' attention

  24. Biden aimed to prove US and global doubters wrong with NATO speech

    With the eyes of the world on him, President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech to open the NATO summit in Washington, aiming to reverse doubts about his fitness for the job domestically while ...

  25. How to write a good graduation speech: tips for every graduate

    Also, most graduation speeches are generally 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes can be shorter. Thus, keep your speech short and focus on delivering a few key points effectively. 5. Use humour wisely. Humour makes a speech memorable and helps the speaker connect better with the audience. However, it would be best not to overdo it or use ...

  26. Character Template for Fiction Writing

    As you write, your characters might surprise you. Maybe your stern librarian suddenly reveals a passion for underground rap battles. Roll with it! Let your characters evolve organically, even if it means scribbling all over your pristine template. Share with Your Writing Buddies. Turn template-filling into a party game!

  27. Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's time for President Biden to undergo detailed

    From a neurological standpoint, we were concerned with his confused rambling; sudden loss of concentration in the middle of a sentence; halting speech and absence of facial animation, resulting at ...

  28. University of California, Irvine, Commencement Address

    Thank you so much for the kind introduction. I'm delighted to be here today--with all of you--Class of 2024; my good friend Dean Jon Gould; parents and family members; and the alumni and faculty of UC Irvine. Congratulations to everyone and well done! I'd like to give a special shout-out to all of our first generation graduates. You know who you are.

  29. Biden opens NATO summit by announcing new air defenses for Ukraine

    President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced plans to supply new air defenses to Ukraine in a speech opening the NATO summit - providing much-needed support for the country at a critical juncture in ...

  30. Chancellor Rachel Reeves is taking immediate action to fix the

    Good morning. Last week, the British people voted for change. And over the last 72 hours I have begun the work necessary to deliver on that mandate.