Whether you are speaking in front of a civic group or making
a sales presentation, your opening can make or break the
deal. Unless you grab the audience at the beginning, they'll
be sleeping through your most important information.
You must craft an opening that cannot be ignored. Great
openings have three things in common:
? they grab the audience's attention away from whatever else
? they maintain the audience's interest
? they are colorful, not black and white
So, you might be wondering how to create an opening that
will do all those things. Let's look at my top three tips
that will help you create your own grabber openings.
#1. Make a startling statement.
There is nothing like a statement that startles, either
because it is so counterintuitive or so amazing, that it
gets an audience to sit up and take notice. Here's one
friend Harry Hoover used recently in a talk about how to
think like Leonardo da Vinci. "95 percent of what we know
about the brain we have learned in the past 20 years." Now,
that got my attention.
#2. Use a powerful quotation.
You can find quotes from famous and not-so-famous people
that are applicable either to the speech topic itself, to
the audience or best of all to both. For instance, if you
were speaking at a Democratic event on the subject of
achievement, you might pull out this one from Rose Kennedy.
"Superior achievement, or making the most of one's
capabilities, is to a very considerable degree a matter of
#3. Use historic events.
Historic events provide much fodder for openings. If you are
giving a speech on perseverance on April 16th, see what
happened on that day in history. For example: What do the
mimeograph machine and the airplane have in common? Their
inventors, A.B. Dick and Wilbur Wright were both born on
April 16th, and they both toiled for years before their
inventions were perfected.
Here's a bonus tip for creating a grabber opening for a
speech in a strange city. Check out the telephone directory.
Toward the front, they have great information on local
history, as well as more contemporary facts. It's a great
resource to help you connect with your audience. There you
have my top tips for helping you craft grand openings. Now,
go grab your next audience.
Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems (http://www.tyboyd.com), is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 34 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.