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Creating a powerful opening

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Your speech needs to hook them right up front … or they won’t pay attention to anything else you have to day. Savvy Long Beach speakers know how to open their speech with a bang. They know how to draw their audience in and keep them engaged from beginning to end.

Here are four ways you can open your speech and join the ranks of savvy speakers everywhere.

Someone once said …
You can start your presentation with a thought-provoking quote from someone well known. The quote should encapsulate the core idea of your speech, as well as make people think about its deeper meaning. This can accomplish several things at once:

  • It engages the audience because they are curious how your quote relates to the rest of your speech, and because they may be thinking about what that quote means to them.
  • It can give you third-party validation. If the quote supports your point, you are suggesting that others agree with your viewpoint.
  • If can add a point of contradiction, shock or controversy. You can being with a quote that startles people. And then spend the body of your speech explaining how the person quoted was wrong or right in unexpected ways.

Once upon a time …
The human brain in hardwired to understand stories. Beginning your speech with a story that sets the stage or illustrates a point draws your audience into your presentation.
Using stories throughout your speech, especially ones that throw back to the opening story helps your listeners engage with your content on a deeper level.

Action speaks louder than words
Sometimes a gesture speaks more than words ever could. An engaging, un-expected gesture that communicates the core message of your speech can catch your audience off guard and make them lean in to learn more.

The power of gestures should not be underestimated — body language makes up 93 percent of communication. Gestures that can start of a speech with a bang include pounding your fist on the lectern, hiding your face behind your hand in a “talk to the hand” gesture, or cowering dramatically behind the lectern as if you were afraid of the audience. No one will expect those gestures and your actions will arouse their curiosity.

Make them laugh
Laughter has the power to relax the body, boost the immune system, trigger the release of feel-good hormones and … encourage your audience to want to listen to you. When your humor is appropriate for your speech and for your audience, it draws them in, makes them like you and gets the routing for your success.

Would you like more information about public speaking? Visit for tips, advice and plenty of videos about all the "powers" you can employ in your speaking endeavors.

NOTE: Are you a Long Beach based speaker? Do you know of an upcoming speaking event? Contact me to have an interview with you published in this column.



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