How to Start Your Speech
Making a good start to your speech will help you to perform at your best. It sets the tone for the rest of your presentation and gives the audience a taste of what is to come.
Why, then, would you start with giving your name and the subject of your talk? You have just been introduced to the audience and, in some cases, they have a piece of paper in front of them (a program for instance) that gives them this information.
You need to find a way of beginning that you are comfortable with (see the notes about developing your style) and use that for every speech you make.
For me, it is using a date. For example – I might begin a speech with “Monday, January 27, 1973”, then pause. This gives the audience time to focus because they will usually want to know what is coming next, that is, why is this particular date important in the context of the speech. I always choose a date that has some relevance to my subject but it is not the same date every time. Often I will add an exact time as well. I have used this opening from speeches as diverse as eulogies to introducing competitors at public speaking competitions.
Just last week, I heard two more ways that might work for you.
1. Start with a “factoid” – a statement of some fact (that you know is true to avoid argument after your speech). In the example I heard, the speaker suggested “There are more people alive today than have ever died in all of history”. He claims it is a factoid that can be used to start speeches on all sorts of different topics.
2. “Once upon a time” – In the English speaking world for many generations this phrase will make your audience sit forward and be ready to listen because that is what we trained ourselves to do whenever we were about to be told a story.
Give these a try – find something that works for you.