The first ten or twenty seconds of your speech is the peak of your audience’s engagement level. It is not going to get any better as one by one your listeners will get distracted by their mental grocery lists or the next day’s outfit. Hook them fast with benefits by giving them an implicit or explicit reason to pay close attention.
Opening #1: The Personal Story
The most consistently successful opening is the personal story.
First, your personal story should really be personal. Tell your own story and share your observations.
Second, make sure your story is directly relevant to your core message. If your goal is to inspire people to volunteer their time to feed the homeless, a cute story about how your dog can bark ‘I love you’ just does not belong.
Third, fourth, and fifth, make your story highly emotional, highly sensory, and rich in dialogue. The story should be so specific that your audience is able to relive it with you. And sixth, start your story somewhere in the middle so that you immediate prompt your audience to wonder who, what, where, whey, why, or how.