Monday, October 1, 2012

Developing the Attention-Getter and Introduction to Your Speech

This lesson is going to go over how to develop a great Attention-Getter and Introduction to your speech. Having a good Attention-Getter and Introduction can (and will) set the tone for the rest of your speech, likewise, a poor Attention-Getter and Introduction will be a disaster for the rest of your speech.

Purpose of Introduction

Capture the audiences attention!!!

A good Attention-Getter will arouse the audience's attention and make them want to listen to you!

How to Capture the Audiences Attention

1. Lead with a quote.
Not just any quote, but a quote that will resonate with your audience (remember- know your audience). A quote can come from a variety of sources- poetry, literature, film, or from an individual. 


REMEMBER- Inappropriate jokes or quotes will lessen your credibility.

2. Tell a story.
Noted speech writer and language expert William Safire once remarked that stories are "surefire attention getters."
A good story can personalize and issue and help audience members relate to the topic (plus it humanizes you the speaker).

Something that will help you is understanding what an anecdote is. An anecdote is a brief story of interesting, humorous, or real-life incidents. 

The key to successfully introducing a speech with an anecdote is choosing one that strikes a chord with the audience.

3. Pose a question.
There are two types of questions you can ask your audience- REAL or RHETORICAL.

A real question invites the audience for a response, whereas a rhetorical does not solicit an actual response but allows the audience to "think" about the answer.

FYI- Depending on the rhetorical question, you may need to explain to the audience that the speech will answer the question. 

Other types of rhetorical questions are what I call positive response rhetorical questions. This kind of question is one that you know the audience will answer or agree with (i.e. give a "yes" of favorable response to). This is a great way to get the audience involved without actually having them respond.

There is also a mixture of REAL and RHETORICAL questions. It's a question that you pose (usually a yes or no question) and the audience will answer through body language (head nod, head shake, smile, or laughter). 

WARNING!!! The drawback to asking questions is if you get an audience that will not respond at all. This usually happens when one doesn't know who their audience is and the questions do not resonate with them.

4. Say something that "startles" the audience.
I'm not talking about making some random goat noise or YELLING. To say something startling is introducing a fact or statement that is not highly known by the audience and (this is important) it is going to relate to your topic.

Example: Let's say I am going to talk about the Rules of Golf. I could start out with this:
"Did you know that you cannot putt with a pool cue? This is true, the USGA forbade the use of pool cues for putting in 1895 after a dispute came up during the U.S. Amateur."
It's startling because it's weird, it's strange, and it's not common knowledge.

Will Ferrell Always Makes Me Laugh
4. Make the audience laugh.
As I have said many a time, there is nothing that will build trust faster than by making someone smile or laugh. Humor is a powerful tool to establish rapport with an audience, but if it is used inappropriately, it will be the death of your speech.

Here's a great checklist to make sure you are using humor appropriately:
  • Is your humor appropriate to the occasion?
  • Does your humor help you make a point about your speech topic or the speech occasion?
  • Have you avoided any potentially offensive targets, such as race, gender, or religion?
  • Is your humor likely to insult or demean anyone?
  • Will the audience understand your humor?
  • Have you given your humor a trial run?
  • Is your humor funny?
A great resource for humor is the Comedy Bible by Judy Carter (If you are SERIOUS about humor then click on Link to buy a copy from Amazon- It's only like 11 Bucks!!!)

5. Refer to the occasion.
Referring to the occasion just means that you give reference to the speech occasion and to any relevant facts about the event. 

An Example of this would be if I were giving a speech at the annual Golf Hackers Executive Club Meeting. It would go something like this:

"I wish to express my thanks and to let you know that it is an honor to be invited to participate in the 10th annual Golf Hackers Executive Meeting. I would like to recognize those who have been awarded for their Hacking Excellence and I wish to your continued excellence in hacking."

*Personally, I think this type of Attention-Getter is dry and often boring, but sometimes it's what is needed based off who the audience is.

6. Establish common ground.
Establishing common ground is done by showing and expressing interest in the audience and most importantly, showing how you and they are similar. This could be a common belief, gender, religion, purpose, etc. 

Remember, establishing common ground should not offend anyone (present or not present) and it must have some emotional connection. (Saying that we are all Homo Sapiens doesn't really work)

Once You Have the Audience's Attention it's Time to Introduce Them to Your Topic

There are some VERY IMPORTANT things to remember when stating your introduction, and they are:

1. Declare Your Purpose and Intentions
This goes back to grade school paper writing. The introductory paragraph must tell the reader what you are going to tell them. The same holds true for the introduction of a great speech; tell them what you are going to tell them. I would enhance that by really getting into the purpose of the speech and what your desired outcomes should be.

Example: "After my speech you will understand the mechanics of a basic golf swing and will be able to implement this new skill in lowering you overall handicap."

OR you can....

2. Tell the Audience What You are Going to Tell Them
Start by previewing the main points.
To continue with my golf swing introduction, I could say something like, "I am going to teach you the importance of grip and stance and how it affects your swing."

Here are some IMPORTANT things to remember when developing an introduction.

1. Give the Audience a Reason to Believe
Emphasize the topic's practical implications.
Show what the audience has to GAIN or LOSE by listening or not listening (Pleasure Pain Principle)

I would say that most of the time it is better to focus on a positive outcome rather than a negative outcome, but just remember that the feeling of a negative outcome can be just as (if not more) powerful than a positive outcome. 

2. Establish Your Credibility
State your qualifications for speaking on the topic.
Briefly emphasize some experience, knowledge, or perspective you have that is different from or more extensive than that of your audience.


Make sure you are using information that is credible. You are probably not the EXPERT in what you are talking about, but using EXPERT sources and letting the audience know that you are using it (i.e. citing you sources), will establish credibility.

Here are some TIPS on preparing the introduction
  • You may find it easier to prepare your introduction AFTER you have completed the body of the speech.
  • Keep the introduction brief and to the point (purpose and intention)
  • Review any of your research material that you can use in your introduction.
  • Practice and time the length of your introduction.
  • Introduction is only 10 to 15 percent of the overall speech.
  • Revise until you feel good about it and it has a good "flow" to it.
  • Make sure you have the Attention-Getter and Introduction MEMORIZED so it flows!!!
  1. Why do you want to have a good Attention-Getter with your introduction? 
  2. What is the downside of having a poor introduction and can you still have a great speech after a poor introduction? Why or Why not?
  3. How could helping the audience see what they have to lose (pain) be a good way to captivate your audience? Do you think it's best to use the "pain" or "pleasure" approach in your introduction? Why or why not?

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