3 powerful ways to improve your speech introduction

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“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.”

– Gerald R. Ford

These are really powerful words from a former US president.  You might not realize it or you may have never fully admitted it to yourself but your ability to effectively communicate your thoughts & ideas are extremely important to your ultimate success in life.

One of the most important aspects of your communication is your introduction.  Many people tend to see an introduction as the opening of your speech when you stand on stage to make a presentation but your introduction goes beyond that.

How do you start a sentence at an office meeting? How do you start your sentence when called on to address your co-workers? How do you start a sentence while having a 1 on 1 conversation with your boss? How do you start your sentence when having a 1 on 1 with a potential client? How do you start a sales pitch? Or a wedding toast? Or the eulogy at a funeral?

Here is our conviction: If you can deliver a meaningful introduction, you will:

– Capture the attention of your audience

– Have a sense of direction

– Give yourself really good momentum

– Establish instant credibility

There are many public speaking coaches who have different techniques for their clients.  When I work with my clients, I use a few techniques and that instantly transform their speech. Would you rather hear a lot of mumbo jumbo theory or techniques that give instant results? Let’s save the mumbo jumbo for another day.  Here are a few techniques I teach my clients when I meet with them:

The Bang Theory: In my track and field school days, one of the first things we learnt was the importance of starting every race in front.  According to my coach, runners that stay with the front pack have a greater chance of winning the race and getting in the front pack is all about starting out with power.

Your very first words are extremely important to the success of your speech.  Know EXACTLY which words you want to use.  As a matter of fact, write down the first 5 words or so.  Once you come up on stage (or that meeting or presentation) come out strong with your words.

If you start out with power, your brain with deliver the rest of the introduction with power.

Never start an intro uncertain of what you want to say or how you want to start.  If you start out with ummms or ahhhs, you’ve lost great momentum. Watch Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Emeka Ojukwu, Hitler (Remember, the focus is on POWERFUL speakers…not characters). They had an objective from the moment they stood on stage.  Pay attention to the first few words that came out.  It had a sense of direction.

I usually spend time working with clients on the Bang Theory. I usually advice clients to write down the first sentence of their introduction.

SPC model: I call this the smooth, power, confidence model. It is very simple (and you can use it through your entire speech) Make sure your first few words come out with power, confidence and smoothness.  When it comes out with power, it connotes confidence and suaveness.

Find your style and your audience’s preference: What works well for you? What do you think would capture the heart of THIS particular audience?  Do you think a story would catch their attention? How about a powerful quote? Is an interesting analogy the way to go?

Why don’t you practice these tips for your next speech? Let us know how it goes!