The introduction to a speech is very crucial. The first two minutes may make or break the succeeding fifteen minutes of the talk your audience will hear from you. When you lose their attention during this small window, you are more likely to not get their attention again. To engage your audience, the beginning of the speech should already pack a lot of punch.
Follow these tips to avoid making speeches with weak beginnings:
1. Write down your speech and if possible memorize them. Writing helps you stay focused and keep your thoughts together. If you are, for some reason, unable to memorize the whole speech, at least memorize the first few sentences. This will give you the push to start your talk with confidence. Not remembering the first few lines of your speech is usually the cause of mental blocks or stage jitters.
2. Make the beginning simple and easy to remember. The speech’s beginning is not the part where you should be creative or dramatic as this may become harder to remember. However, the opening shouldn’t be basic and boring as well.
3. Cracking a joke is a great idea only if you have a knack for it. If you are not a naturally gifted comedian, it is better to not to attempt wise cracks because the joke might blow over, thus making the situation so much more uncomfortable. It can be a disaster waiting to happen. If you have to have a crack at humor, do not start with a joke but make a humorous remark instead.
4. Do not be so eager to do the following:
- apologize for not being a good speaker
- apologize for not having prepared a great speech
- apologize for being nervous
- thank the audience endlessly for being there
- thank every VIP in the audience.
If you keep doing these, your audience will not take you seriously and lose their interest completely. These remarks encourage the audience to focus on your weakness when you were actually invited to do the speech to inspire them.
5. Your body language also matters a lot as this will clue the audience in and see you as the authoritative and believable figure they need to listen to. Walk to the stage with the smile, stand tall and speak in a very clear voice. Try to engage those in the front seat by making eye contact.
6. Bringing a copy of your speech as you get up the stage is always a good idea, in case the worst does happen and you buckle or forget everything.
Once you have engaged your audience in that crucial two minutes, then you would already be able to predict what will happen to the rest of the time you stand up the stage to give that talk. It would also help to gauge your audience a few days before the actual speech. Knowing your audience will help you prepare for the big event. You can even get good introduction ideas from this.