Start Strong! — Use a Speech Introduction Your Audience Will Remember
Imagine you're an attendee at a business conference who hears this at the start of a sales pitch:
"Hi, everyone. I'm Glenn Collect-More, president of Collect-More Medical Billing. Our experts help hospitals and medical groups maximize practice revenue. I'm delighted to be speaking to you this morning.
. . . Do you want to increase the number of patients you see while reducing your paperwork?"
Looks okay, doesn't it?
But now imagine that everything the speaker said took a total of 14 seconds. In addition, his voice wasn't inflected but flat, inhabiting a vocal plateau. And he didn't use any vocal expressiveness to give life to his words.
Are you interested in making an impact in your own presentations? If you are, don't make the mistake the above speaker made. Learn the techniques that will make you a more powerful speaker vocally. Download my free cheat sheet, "5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics."
Now how successful would you say this speaker's greeting to his audience was?
How to Craft a Powerful Speech Introduction
You may remember the old school lesson that a speech has three parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. The truth is, most presentations include a fourth component: the Greeting.
Your greeting is an essential part of your Introduction because it presents both you and your topic to your audience, giving your listeners a flavor of what will follow. Equally important, it opens up the channel of communication between you and your listeners. It alerts an audience to whether you're going to be interesting or not. And it starts influencing listeners when they're primed to pay maximum attention.
All pretty important considerations! As I tell my clients and trainees, your greeting is a presentation element that absolutely shouldn't be neglected.
After your greeting, you need a opening that grabs your audience immediately. To excel at the moment when your audience is paying the most attention, take a look at my e-book, How to Start a Speech.
You Only Have 30-60 Seconds to Build Your Credibility with an Audience
But what about the fact that things are always shaky at first, and you only find your speaking stride after 2 or 3 minutes?
Unfortunately, audiences judge you in the first 30 to 60 seconds! That's all the time you have to get their judgments working in your favor rather than against you. So your greeting is precious real estate that you must develop skillfully.
If the problem isn't with your content, it may be your delivery that's undermining your effectiveness. Given the fact that these audience members have never heard your talk before, you must invest your performance with all the energy and passion you're capable of. Accomplish that, and you'll be well on your way to speaking with charisma and presence for leadership.
Did you know that you only have about a minute before audiences form judgments about you? To get off to the strongest start possible, see my previous blog, "How to Begin a Presentation: The Critical First 60 Seconds."
Marrying Sound and Sense
The underenergized introduction at the start of this article, for instance, is similar to what I heard last week when I conducted a breakfast workshop for a chamber of commerce. One of the attendees volunteered to give us the opening of his "stump pitch," and that is the content (changed with regard to industry) that I included above.
He didn't realize—and you can see it too if you re-read what he said—that there were four components to his greeting, not one. That is, before he asked his "grabbing" question, he did the following: 1) greeted his audience, 2) identified himself, 3) gave his company's expertise that might be of interest to prospects, and 4) told his listeners that he was delighted to be speaking to them. After that came his "hook." Before that came the elements of his greeting that he'd specifically included to begin pleasantly and professionally.
The problem was that, although he knew why those elements were there, he'd rattled them off so many times before the workshop that he'd lost his own interest in the content. He was telegraphing to his audience vocally that it no longer revved his engine to say these things.
I coached this gentleman briefly, getting him to invest himself emotionally in each of the four elements of his greeting, rather than allowing them to run together. In a short time, he'd caught on and his vocal delivery skills began to match the important information he was getting across to his listeners.
His fellow workshop attendees spontaneously applauded at his last attempt. Now he had a greeting that accomplished its job by helping to launch his presentation strongly.
This blog was originally published in 2012. It is regularly updated.
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