There’s a world of difference between an excellent speaker and a merely adequate one, but those things are a matter of time, practice and honing your craft through experience. Without that experience, however, there are still some things you can do right out of the gate to make sure you don’t crash and burn.
These points are the irreducible minimum to good public speaking. All good speakers know these points and all good speeches are made up of them. Inversely, all bad speeches disregard one or more of these points.
I hope you enjoy the series! Here’s Part 1, which covers the all-important introduction.
Just as the 5 rules covered in this post are the barest necessities for public speaking, so is this first one a necessity for each individual speech. A lousy intro to an otherwise good speech will leave people with a bad first impression. This does not mean you can’t come back from a bad intro or that first impressions are set in stone. But within the confines of your alloted time and while trying to make your point, the “comeback” can be hard to do.
On the other hand, a great intro to an average speech will still stick in the audience’s mind as a pretty good speech. If you come out swinging for the fences, they’ll like your energy. If you start with a great joke or engaging anecdote, you’ll set the mood for the rest of the speech.
If your topic lends itself well to telling a story, do so as it’s a great way to get the audience interested. If your speech is about nuclear radiation fallout, don’t just say, “Today I’m going to tell you about nuclear radiation, where it’s from and what its dangers are.”
Instead break into an interesting story. Say, “In 1942, after the bombing of Hiroshima…” or “A river in Oregon has so much radiation in it from a nearby nuclear plant, that fish from the river glow in the dark.”
Start the presentation off strong like this and it’s likely you can keep the audience on the edge of its seat throughout the whole thing.