Opening With Some Impact
“Today I am going to be talking about . . . .”
“Hello . . . Hello . . . . Good Morning . . . . “
“I would like to speak about . . . .”
“Okay, let me begin with a story. . . .”
“Today, I would like to . . . . “
“I heard a story which illustrates the point I would like to make . . . .”
“Let me ask you if you have ever . . . . “
“I hope you enjoy my presentation . . . .”
“Imagine that you are . . . .”
Those are a few examples of the first words which typify many “Fundamentals of Speech 101” students’ introductions. Over the years of teaching such classes, I have sought to break students of that practice. While teaching “Public Speaking” over the past three years at a local university, I would say something like this to the students . . . .
- I want you to position yourself at the podium.
- Look at the audience for a few seconds — it will feel like forever.
- Establish a sweeping eye contact.
- Establish some personal mental and emotional composure.
- Do NOT look down at any of your notes — keep looking at them and then . . . .
- Begin with the first words of your introduction, which may be . . . .
a personal battle
a thought-provoking question
an interesting, unexpected, or startling statistic*
a startling statement
a humorous story (which is not gratuitous humor)
a personal battle you experienced
a well-known “event”
an expert’s statement-opinion
a physical object
a testimony – yours or another’s
an illustrative connecting story
a personal anecdote
an illustrative theme connected story
Start strong with an introduction! — which will capture the audience’s interest and/or attention! Begin with an introduction which your audience will not forget — which they will remember!
Likewise . . . .
“Today we are looking at . . . .”
“Let’s me begin with . . . . “
“We began a series last week on . . . .”
“Again this morning we are in the book of . . . .”
“Turn to . . . .”
“Let me ask you a question . . . . “
“Our series is on . . . . and we are looking at the fourth parable/commandment/time when Jesus/etc.”
“Let me being by reviewing where we were last week . . . .”
“Let’s open our Bibles to . . . .
“Today, as we continue our series in Psalms, we are finally in chapter 150 . . . .”
. . . . are a few examples of the typical introductions which many of us will hear on a Sunday church service as a pastor-preacher-teacher begins. Been there — done it!
Now anyone who has spent any meaningful amount of time and effort speaking knows that there is a more effective way to begin! Let me assure you, that I understand some of the reasons for knowing that and yet not practicing it.
→ the number of times a person speaks every week
→ time constraints — All of the above types of introductions take up speaking time.
→ being a serial-speaker — Because you are the same speaker who is speaking to the same audience, and those realities demand greater variety
→ speaking to a serial audience — Because the audience has heard many of your stories, examples, illustrations, etc. the possibility for variety is narrowed.
→ other time demands in ministry and administration — “Introductions” take time to develop and/or unearth!
→ dissatisfying explored introductory options — After spending a considerable amount of time on this-or-that introductory possibility, you just cannot get it to gel or work as you want! — “I just going with — Let’s open our Bibles to . . . “
Nevertheless, we still all know that there is a more effective way to begin a message than that! After you listen to the two examples below, you might be more excited about taking the time to engage an audience.
Here are the two examples taken from a message by Dr. Travis Smith at a Sunday baccalaureate service, June 3, 2018. One is a personal experience, and the other comes from a well-known event.
Personal Experience: What drives the impact of this personal story even further is his “thinking on his feet” response to the clerk at the register.
Well-know Event: Outstanding! What an effective way to bring the audience into thinking about how one would determine the value of an individual!
Time to skip those “dreaded introductions” which put the mind into a “mentally neutral gear” from the very start!
Bring Them Into The Speech
With An Introduction
Which Carries Some
Weight & Interest!
Additional words by Mark Dever audio clip on “Introductions”
P.S. Only 20 more articles on Rhetorical Techniques, which will bring us to 250 such articles. While I have about 160 plus articles in the WordPress Que, they will roll out sporadically as I have time.
My plan is to now go back to these 250 articles and . . . .
#1) put them “as is” all together into one pdf file for anyone who wants to download all 250. If that is you, connect with me on LinkedIn, or my wordpress site and let me know, and I will email it to you as a downloadable pdf file. I will do that weekly after #250.
#2) create a “table of contents”. A “table of contents” page will help to visually scan the various topics and techniques. It can jog your mind as to what you can do as you seek to add some meat to the message.
#3) make the necessary grammatical corrections which I am sure I have missed as I work on these articles day after day. Usually, I catch some of them a little later in the day as I re-read some of them.
#4) print these and others into a magazine format (example: Ruth Chapter 1 2017 — a magazine commentary).
* Jane Fonda in “Life’s Third Act,” TED talk: Using a statistic
“There have been many revolutions over the last century, but perhaps none as significant as the longevity revolution. We are living on average today 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did. Think about that: that’s an entire second adult lifetime that’s been added to our lifespan.”
P.S. You don’t have to like Jane Fonda to see how an introduction can have impact.
“I wish you could have been there when this event took place in my life. You may have had different thoughts than I had when it was happening, but you would have had some lasting impressions which . . . ”
“Go back with me to a time when life in a small town USA meant that we were outside all summer with mom having no idea where we were. A time when a town came together for a Little League baseball game on a summer evening. A time when . . . . ”