How to Craft an Introduction for Your Speaking Engagement, Part 2

 In case you didn’t read How to Craft an Introduction for Your Speaking Engagement, Part 1, here are the main points from it: 

  • Begin with a bang.                   
  • Avoid “unpleasant pleasantries.”
  • Don’t open with a joke. 

Now, let’s go on to Part 2. 

In Part 2, you will pick up the five ways you can use to begin with a bang.  

If you begin with a bang, you will capture your audience’s attention. If you don’t, you may lose their attention. And it’s difficult to win them back. 

You can begin with a bang in one of five ways. 

1. First, go straight into a story. 

Audiences respond to a story. I opened a presentation for a cancer group with a story about the day I received my diagnosis of breast cancer over the telephone. You can see clips of that presentation on my website, www.yvonneortega.com/speaking/

2. Second, ask a powerful question. 

Don’t ask a question that requires a simple yes or no answer. Use an open-ended question that begins with how, what, when, or where. That will make the audience think. 

In the past when I spoke on grief, I started with the question, “What would you say to a grieving person to offer comfort rather than add more anguish?”

3. Third, make a startling statement that jolts the audience. 

You will capture your audience’s attention with that approach. My startling statement at a speakers conference was “God, I’m not going into Christian ministry. Most Christians expect me to speak for nothing.”

4. Fourth, say nothing at all for a few seconds as you look around the room. This is the silent scan. 

When you use the silent scan, you take command of the room, and the audience stops talking. I spoke on domestic violence at a single parents’ conference. I stood at the front of the room, said nothing for a few seconds, and scanned the audience. They settled down immediately. 

5. The fifth way is to start with a brief activity. 

I don’t recommend an activity since you haven’t established rapport with the audience yet. However, if you do use a brief activity, combine it with a story, a powerful question, or a startling statement. That will make it easier to engage the audience. 

When I spoke at a half-day women’s conference, I presented a case study in my second talk. Then I had the women break into groups of three or four to analyze the case and come up with a solution.

How can you open your next presentation? What story, powerful question, or startling statement can you use to capture the audience’s attention? Perhaps you would like to start with the silent scan.

Test “the bang” on your friends. If it doesn’t spark their interest, work on it until it does. Let me know how your introduction turns out. 

Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega May 2019

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Kent on August 18, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Very helpful information on how to get the attention of your audience at the beginning of a presentation! Thanks, Yvonne!



    • Yvonne Ortega on October 14, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      You’re welcome, Carol. Thank you for your kind words.



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