10 Ways to Start a Speech

10 Ways to Start a Speech

I’m preparing for two keynote presentations I’ve got coming up in September.

Believe it or not, about 80% of my attention goes to my first 5 minutes.

and 80% of my attention in those first 5 minutes goes to the very first sentence that comes out of my mouth.

The opening is where you earn the audience’s trust.

or you lose them into the void of their phones.

How do you go about starting a speech with a bang?

Here are 10 ways, with examples, of how you can do so.

1️⃣ The "Make-You-Think" Question

What It Is: A question that makes your audience think twice.
Example: "Can everyone hear me?" - Malala Yousafzai
Your Move: Ask a question that fits your topic but also makes people think. Like, "Who says you have to be old to make a difference?" Then, dive into examples of young people changing the world.

2️⃣ The "Wow, That's Bold!" Statement

What It Is: A strong sentence that grabs attention.
Example: "I have a dream." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Your Move: Say something bold and related to your topic. Try, "We're the heroes this world needs." Then explain how everyday actions can be heroic.

3️⃣ The "Did You Know?" Fact

What It Is: A surprising fact that supports your point.
Example: "Every 60 seconds, 30 acres of rainforest are destroyed." - Al Gore
Your Move: Drop a shocking fact. Like, "We use 500 million straws every day!" Follow up with ways to reduce plastic use.

4️⃣ The "Let Me Tell You a Story" Intro

What It Is: A short story that sets the stage.
Example: "When I was 17, I read a quote..." - Steve Jobs
Your Move: Start with a mini-story that relates to your topic. "Once upon a time, I failed a test, and it changed my life." Then talk about learning from failure.

5️⃣ The "This or That" Choice

What It Is: Two options that make the audience pick a side.
Example: "You can accept things as they are, or you can take responsibility to change them." - Michelle Obama
Your Move: Give two options. "Are you a dreamer or a doer?" Then discuss the value of both.

6️⃣ The "Let's Get Real" Moment

What It Is: A moment of honesty that everyone can relate to.
Example: "I'm going to talk to you about something we all do. Lie." - Pamela Meyer
Your Move: Be super honest. "Let's face it, we all procrastinate." Then offer tips to beat procrastination.

7️⃣ The "Imagine This" Scenario

What It Is: A vivid picture painted with words.
Example: "Imagine a world without boundaries." - John Lennon
Your Move: Paint a picture. "Imagine a day without your phone." Then talk about digital detox.

8️⃣ The "Famous Quote" Kickoff

What It Is: A well-known quote that fits your topic.
Example: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
Your Move: Use a quote and explain how it relates to your topic. "In the words of Einstein, 'Life is like riding a bicycle.'" Then talk about balance in life.

9️⃣ The "What If" Wonder

What It Is: A hypothetical question that sparks imagination.
Example: "What if money was no object?" - Alan Watts
Your Move: Ask a "what if" question. "What if you could learn anything in a month?" Then discuss the power of focused learning.

🔟 The "Check This Out" Show-and-Tell

What It Is: A physical item you show to make a point.
Example: "I brought something with me today." - Bill Gates (and then he released mosquitoes)
Your Move: Bring something cool to show. "Check out this trophy. It's not for sports; it's for kindness." Then talk about the importance of being kind.