A well crafted speech opener gives you tremendous momentum. As a wag put it, a good speech opener helps you excite, link and involve the audience.
One way is to prepare an apt one-liner, quote, shocking statement or statistics. The second is to respond to your introduction in a humorous way. Surprise, surprise, you can prepare to be spontaneous !
Here are some more speech openers I’ve used with great success. My sources have been listed in my Shelfari bookshelf on this blog! Go get those books and customise the anecdotes to suit your audience !
I was evaluating a speaker for the sixth time and I noticed that she had tremendously improved from her first speech which was a disaster as she fumbled, forgot her punch lines
and ended up abruptly. So I started this way ” You remind me of the Virginia Slims cigarette ad – “You’ve come a long way baby !!”
I just can’t describe the applause I got. I picked this up from fellow Toastmaster Adnan Nakhoda
who used this line on his wife when she completed her 10th
Responding a long and verbose introduction, I said “normally they say this speaker needs no introduction but this introduction needs no speaker !”
She (the host), described me as a tall, dark and handsome speaker. Honestly, I don’t agree with one of the descriptions – being dark !!!
Thank you for those kind words which I richly deserve but rarely get !
Thank you for those kind words of introduction, unlike the intro when I was referred to as the Rolls Royce of speakers. I was highly flattered until my son told me that the car had two distinct features- not audible and goes on and on !
Thank you for the applause. I feel like the cow,who,on a cold winter morning, turned around to the person milking her and said “thanks for the warm hand !
I am a bit worried about him/her(host or MC or Toastmaster). Last time, as I was approaching the lectern, I heard her telling this guy ” No, not now. As soon he begins to speak, shoot him ! I was relieved to know that she was giving instructions to the photographer !
( You can use this when you find a photographer standing close or prominently. In a conference where I was the keynote speaker, the official photographer trailed me menacingly right from the time I entered the hall until I got to the lectern. Since the audience saw all this, they were able to immediately relate to my opener and gave me a resounding applause.)
I was addressing a group of women entrepreneurs and I started by saying
Good morning to all you beautiful and charming women – A beautiful woman is the one I notice and a charming woman is the one who notices me !
After a highly flattering and exaggerated introduction- “Listening to this intro, I feel like the cow who watched a milk van pass by with the slogan “ Cow’s milk – pasteurised, homogenised and sterilised” and said ” I feel rather inadequate !”
Here is a longish intro – use this if you are a guest speaker and land up late ….
” I apologise for coming late. I hate being late, especially when I am the guest speaker. And I don’t want to end up like the politician of a small town. It was the farewell function for a priest who was leaving town after 20 years of service. The local politician, who was the chief guest had not yet reached . As the audience was getting impatient, the priest started ‘ My first day in this town was disappointing.The first one to come up to the confessional was a man who said, he stole his father’s money, lied regularly to his parents, cheated in his exams and also was involved in a murder case. However, over a period of time, I began to like this place.” In a few minutes, the politician arrived and gushed ” I can never forget our priest because on the day he landed in our town, I was the first to make a confession….”
I hope our MC hasn’t been talking about me already….. !( I was a bit worried when I used this because I turned up half hour late and I was sceptical about the restive audience’s response but the build up and burst, self deprecating humor more than made up for the delay, as I learnt from one of the audience. Most important, I was a stranger to most of them and was lucky to have pulled it off. Be careful when you use this opener.)