With any speech, attendees show up to learn something, to gain insight, or to be inspired in some way. That being said, the first words you say have the potential to keep your audience engaged or leave them feeling skeptical about your message. You want to start your speech off on the right foot.
There is no one best way to capture your audience’s attention. Rather, a good opening line should:
Match the occasion. Make sure you know your audience and their expectations so you deliver an appropriate attention getter and speech.
Align with the speech intention. Don’t start your speech with a totally different topic than what your speech is about.
In this blog, I share 5 attention getters and examples to help you capture your audience’s attention. Share which is your favorite in the comments below and on IG!
A meaningful quote about your topic is another way to capture your audience’s attention. I suggest that you put your spin on it or explain its significance to show the connection with your speech topic.
“Eleanor Roosevelt once said, 'You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.' Everyday I try to do one thing that makes me look fear in the face.”
You can start your speech by saying a joke or a funny story if you will use humor throughout your speech. Jokes are a great way to break the ice with your audience. Having the audience laughing with you will make you comfortable quickly on the stage.
Q: Why didn't the yogi buy the vacuum cleaner?
A: It came with too many attachments!
::insert bouts of laughter::
Another way to get the audience’s attention is to paint a picture of what the future could be. This technique invests your audience in your topic by getting them to imagine what the future would be like and then you show them the path to obtaining the future throughout your speech. You can also circle back to the image you paint as your takeaway in the conclusion. You could do this by saying,
“Imagine a world where every school board had a yoga teacher elected to serve. How different would the board’s decisions be? How different would the future be for the children?
This attention getter is great for all types of speaking and can help build your credibility on your subject area quickly.
“Between the 11th and 19th centuries, Buddhist monks in northern Japan practiced a kind of mediation called Sokushinbutsu, in which they would mummify themselves alive by slowly weaning themselves off all food and water before eventually starving to death. This is believed to be a path towards enlightenment.”
1. Meditation/ Intention setting
If it's appropriate to your topic and the speech venue, you could use a mediation or set an intention as your attention getter. This will focus and relax the audience to prepare for your message.
“I’d like to begin by inviting everyone to close their eyes with me and set a collective intention for our time together. As you close your eyes, feel your breath filling your lungs. Notice the rise and fall of your chest. Breathe in, breathe out. May we all be receptive to learning new things today and opening our hearts to others. Let’s seal our intention with one inhale and exhale together.”