A well crafted speech opener gives you tremendous momentum. As a wag put it, a good speech opener helps you excite, link and involve the audience.
One way is to prepare an apt one-liner, quote, shocking statement or statistics. The second is to respond to your introduction in a humorous way. Surprise, surprise, you can prepare to be spontaneous !
Here are some speech openers I’ve used with great success. Hope you find them useful
I was evaluating a speaker for the sixth time and I noticed that she had tremendously improved from her first speech which was a disaster as she fumbled, forgot her punch lines and ended up abruptly. So I started this way ” You remind me of the Virginia Slims cigarette ad – “You’ve come a long way baby !!” I just can’t describe the applause I got. I picked this up from fellow Toastmaster Adnan Nakhoda who used this line on his wife when she completed her 10th speech
Responding a long and verbose introduction, I said “normally they say this speaker needs no introduction but this introduction needs no speaker !”
She (the host), described me as a tall, dark and handsome speaker. Honestly, I don’t agree with one of the descriptions – being dark !!! Thank you for those kind words which I richly deserve but rarely get !
Thank you for those kind words of introduction, unlike the intro when I was referred to as the Rolls Royce of speakers. I was highly flattered until my son told me that the car had two distinct features- not audible and goes on and on !
Thank you for the applause. I feel like the cow,who,on a cold winter morning, turned around to the person milking her and said “thanks for the warm hand !
I am a bit worried about him/her(host or MC or Toastmaster). Last time, as I was approaching the lectern, I heard her telling this guy ” No, not now. As soon he begins to speak, shoot him ! I was relieved to know that she was giving instructions to the photographer !
( You can use this when you find a photographer standing close or prominently. In a conference where I was the keynote speaker, the official photographer trailed me menacingly right from the time I entered the hall until I got to the lectern. Since the audience saw all this, they were able to immediately relate to my opener and gave me a resounding applause.)
I was addressing a group of women entrepreneurs and I started by saying
Good morning to all you beautiful and charming women – A beautiful woman is the one I notice and a charming woman is the one who notices me !
After a highly flattering and exaggerated introduction- “Listening to this intro, I feel like the cow who watched a milk van pass by with the slogan ” Cow’s milk – pasteurised, homogenised and sterilised” and said ” I feel rather inadequate !”
Here is a longish intro – use this if you are a guest speaker and land up late ….
” I apologies for coming late. I hate being late, especially when I am the guest speaker. And I don’t want to end up like the politician of a small town. It was the farewell function for a priest who was leaving town after 20 years of service. The local politician, who was the chief guest had not yet reached . As the audience was getting impatient, the priest started ‘ My first day in this town was disappointing.The first one to come up to the confessional was a man who said, he stole his father’s money, lied regularly to his parents, cheated in his exams and also was involved in a murder case. However, over a period of time, I began to like this place.” In a few minutes, the politician arrived and gushed ” I can never forget our priest because on the day he landed in our town, I was the first to make a confession….”
I hope our MC hasn’t been talking about me already….. !( I was a bit worried when I used this because I turned up half hour late and I was sceptical about the restive audience’s response but the build up and burst, self deprecating humor more than made up for the delay, as I learnt from one of the audience. Most important, I was a stranger to most of them and was lucky to have pulled it off. Be careful when you use this opener.)
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Thanks a lot,Bharat.