Basic Presentation Skills: How to Craft Effective Speech Openings

The opening of your speech or presentation needs to hook your audience. If you can’t capture their attention straightaway, then there is a good chance that your entire presentation is doomed from the beginning. One crucial basic presentation skill you need to know is how to craft an effective opening that hooks your audience and draws them in. Here are four tips to help you accomplish that.

1. Be prepared. We cannot stress this enough. Even if you normally just create a basic speech outline and fill in the details as you speak, you should always learn your opening word-for-word. Practice it relentlessly until you can say it backwards in your sleep! Not only will this improve the quality of your crucial opening, but it will lessen the chance that you make a mistake or accidentally leave something out.

2. Grab your audience’s attention. Your opening is the first impression your audience forms of you. Make sure it’s a good one! Tell your audience exactly what you’re going to talk about and-perhaps even more importantly – why they need this information. Also, skip preliminaries like “ladies and gentlemen;” you can always weave them into the opening lines of your speech.

3. Tell the audience why they should listen to you. This is related to step number two, but it’s worth covering in greater detail. Why does your audience need this information? What will they take away from your presentation? Be sure to tell them this as early as possible in your speech. Your audience will want to hear why they should take time out of their busy schedules to sit down and listen to you, and will appreciate it if you give them that information outright.

4. Set the mood. This is a more abstract tip than the previous three, but it’s still just as important. What is the tone of your presentation? Serious and somber? Light-hearted and funny? Technical and laden with information? Be sure you get that across here. For example, if you have a funny opening but the rest of your speech deals with heavy subject material, then you may want to re-evaluate it. This entails getting a firm grasp on the tone of your piece and the tone the subject matter deserves.

Remember, your opening can determine the success of your entire presentation. So be creative with it, and use it to make a splash! Follow all four of these tips and you’re sure to boost your basic presentation skills by crafting effective openings.