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Openings For Your Speech, Try . . .

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

One of These!

“There’s only one chance to make a first impression!”

That’s a fair statement and definitely applies to the Opening of your presentation. That component of your talk literally ‘sets the stage’ for what’s to follow.

Quickly, the audience is going to be on the edge of their seats, either breathlessly waiting for more, or, if your opening isn’t a great one, waiting for the moment when they can leave their seat and bolt for the exit!

Your Opening serves two purposes:

  1. Grab your audiences’ attention.

  2. Tell them what you’ll be telling them.

This post deals with the first goal: Grabbing their attention with your Speech Opening!

Here are some Openings to considerfor your next presentation.

Paint a Word Picture

  1. No physical pictures equal what our minds can “see.

  2. Example:Picture this. You’ve just taken your seat in English Class, and the professor says, “Class, clear your desks and take out a clean sheet of paper.” What are your thoughts?

Ask a Question

  • This gets people focusing and thinking

  • Example: “Raise your hand if you know anyone who had Covid.” Bonus: If you raise your hand while asking a question more people will raise their hands. Depending on the subject, this can make a significant difference.

Start with a Joke

It must be relevant to your talk.

  • Laughter gets the endorphins going and makes your audience feel good

  • Example: “I once joined a Toastmaster club and soon realized I didn’t fit in. They were very smart people who probably belonged to Mensa, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. I graduated in the half of the class that made the top half possible!”

Deliver a Famous Quote

  • The quote, and person quoted, should be germane to your presentation.

  • Quotations make connections and stir emotions.

  • Example: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”— P.T. Barnum The news recently has been about scams where callers said they were with the IRS and needed to check social security numbers.

Today in History

  • The historical event should be factual and applicable to your subject matter.

  • Using a little creativity with this information can segue into your speech opening.

  • Example: On June 22, 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services –known as G.I.s – for their efforts in World War II. Think about the efforts today to provide free college education and how that G.I. Bill helped thousands achieve that educational goal and not be overburdened with debt.

In This Morning’s New York Times or other media

  • A current event, if appropriate, can be part of your opening.

  • Make an analogy between the headline and something important to your audience.

  • Example: “Biden and Putin Meet for Difficult Dialogue.” What if you met face-to-face with one of your fiercest competitors? What outcome could benefit both of you?

Start with a Story that builds suspense then . . . Surprise them with a contrary statement

  • Example: “In preparing for this presentation over a two-week period of time, I personally took over 200 pictures, picked the 15 best ones, cropped and edited them to get the exact content I needed to make my points today, loaded them into a power point presentation – and my hard drive promptly crashed!”

Use a Physical Prop or a Visual or Audio Effect

  • This will get their attention!

  • Your Opening Statement should tie directly to what your audience just experienced.

  • Example: “The beep – beep – beep sound of a heart monitor I knew I had put myself under a lot of pressure. Waking up in a hospital bed and hearing that sound confirmed how bad the work strain had been.

Start with a statistic

  • Stats make us think.

  • Example: “An average user spent 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media in 2020. How much time do you spend on social media and is it well spent?

Bonus Tips

  • Don’t start talking as soon as you’re introduced. P-a-u-s-e – and count silently to 5. The silence signals the audience to give you their attention.

  • Smile before speaking. Unless your presentation is a somber one, smiling indicates you are confident, and ready to present!

  • Never, even if true, tell the audience you are not prepared for your presentation. Statements like that are self-destructive.  The audience will not expect much from you, and you’ll probably meet their low expectations.

Use some of these Openings in your upcoming presentations and I guarantee they will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!


Three ways to keep the attention of your audience.

About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!



  1. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  2. Crafting Your Elevator Speech, Floor by Floor with – NO SWEAT!

  3. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  4. We are All Self-Employed!

Subscribe to my YouTube ChannelPodcast Channel, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

My books can be purchased on NO SWEAT Public Speaking” NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

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