Why opening statement of a speech is important?
Before you speak your first word your audience has already analyzed you and passed judgment on you subconsciously. They already decided whether they like you or not. It’s easy to say don’t judge someone instantly but fortunately or unfortunately our brain is programmed for that. If the audience doesn’t like you for some unknown reason it’s very important to get your opening right. You should know what you shouldn’t do. Remember, the first 7 seconds of your speech is very crucial to hook your audience.
9 openings to avoid while starting a speech
1) The Gratituder
Avoid starting your speech with gratitude because the moment you say that, the chances of losing your audience are more. I am not saying it is wrong; it’s always good to start a speech in such a way that your audience is hooked on you. So avoid these
- Thank you for the opportunity
- Good morning, Good evening Good night.
- I will speak for a few minutes
- My name is. . .
If the Master of the ceremony has introduced your name, it is not recommended to repeat it.
Suppose in a formal setup and the audience doesn’t know your name, you can introduce yourself as I mentioned in the example at the end of the article.
2) The Introducer
- I am going to talk about. . .
- I am going to tell a story about
Don’t tell them, show them. If you are telling a story, just start with it.
3) The Pleader
- Bear with me for a few more minutes
- Listen to me carefully
You are on the stage to make a difference to the audience or add value to them. So do not say sentences, which sound like you are pleading them to listen to you. Unless you are mentioning it with a specific purpose.
4) The Funny Gambler
Humour is a gamble. There is nothing wrong with starting with humour but. . . if the audience won’t laugh out loud as you wanted it to, then you as a speaker on stage will lose confidence. If you have Low confidence, the audience will read you like a magazine.
Scenario: Jane starts a speech with humour.
“Mom asked what are you doing for Easter, I said the same like Jesus going on Friday and coming back on Monday”
When she delivered this for the first time, the audience couldn’t stop laughing, it boosted her confidence.
When she delivered the same to a different set of audience, silence encapsulated the entire hall.
While you are on stage, trust me this silence can be very loud. She instantly lost her confidence but somehow managed to pick up from there.
So the takeaway message from Jane’s experience, you can start with humour only if you are sure that the audience will respond or you are experienced enough that your confidence is not affected.
5) Irrelevant topic
Don’t annoy your audience with irrelevant topics. You will lose them instantly. If you are there to speak about “Brand strategy” just stick to the topic and don’t deviate from the topic no matter how interesting the other subject is. We know this is an obvious point, but sometimes obvious things are not so obvious.
6) Starting with Apologies or Disclaimers
- Sorry for the delay
- Apologies from my side…
Sometimes there may be some situations where you have to apologize. It’s not recommended to do it in the opening statement itself. Try to do it after a while if it’s necessary, or else just let it go.
7) The Cliché Man
Don’t use common quotes or lines. Try something new.
8) Reading Directly from Notes or Slides
9) Rambling or Losing Focus:
Examples to begin a speech
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.
-Isaac Newton. (Pause 3 seconds) Good evening, my name is _______
The world has lost a light today, A shining star that filled our days With laughter, love, and joy.
We will never forget your smile, Your warm embrace, your gentle style. You were a friend to all, And we will miss you dearly.
(Pause 6 seconds)
Good evening, my name is ________.
Place your hand on your heart and say “I will avoid these speech opening mistakes”
Place your index finger on your forehead and say “I am a confident and powerful speaker.”