Start Strong to Capture Attention

Did you know that in the first 7 seconds of your speech the audience will decide whether or not they like you? And in the first 30 seconds they will decide whether or not you are worth listening to?  That means how you open your speech is absolutely key to establishing a connection with your audience.


Most speakers make the mistake of opening their message or speech with unpleasant pleasantries, but Transformational speakers open with confidence  and capture the audience’s attention.


Contrary to what you may have been taught you should avoid opening your speech with such statements as “I want to Thank….” , “ I am so excited to be here…” , “How’s everyone  doing today?” or other clichés.


Yes, I agree it is polite to acknowledge your host or thank them for the great introduction they gave you. I am not suggesting that you don’t do that, just don’t make it the first thing you say when you get to the podium. Instead, say it a few minutes into your speech only after you have captured your audience’s attention. This may take some practice but you will see a noticeable difference in how quickly you engage your audience using this single tip.


There are several ways you can have a strong opening , however here are the two most effective ways:


  1. Start with a story
  2. Ask a powerful question.


People remember best what they hear first and last!   So if you start with a story, just jump right in telling your story and be sure to start at a place that immediately draws the audience in. Using a strong opening with your story allows you to powerfully connect with your audience and leave them wanting to hear more.

Asking a Question serves the same purpose. You want to ask a question that engages your audience and provokes them to reflect on something or agree with you on something. The question should not be a random question but one that relates to your message:  For example,

“Have you ever been so frightened that you literally couldn’t move?”


“Do you ever feel like your destiny, is just around the corner, yet still so out of reach?’


Then you can go on with the rest of your opening, such as . “I have. In fact , I was 8 years old and staring out my bedroom window and saw something no child should have to see. What I witnessed that day scared me so much I felt paralyzed for what seemed like hours….. etc.”

Do you get the idea?

So the next time you write your message , take time to prepare the opening, even memorize it. It is one of the most important parts of your message.


Your Virtual Speaking Coach,

Lisa Vanderkwaak MSc.



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