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Drama & Speech        < Previous        Next >


Start With a Bang


Today's Snack: The safest, most nonviolent "bang" that you can make with food is the lovely sound of a package of refrigerated dough popping open. So open up a nice package of cinnamon rolls or croissants, place them on a cookie sheet, bake them in the oven according to package directions, and eat them, making sure to lick your fingers if there's any frosting or jelly. You'll get a . . . bang out of it!




Whenever you give a speech, speak out in the classroom, start a conversation with someone important, or just tell a story to your friends, it's important to start out well.


Start with a BANG!


Not only will you get their undivided attention, but by starting with confidence and a sparkle in your eye, you will increase your own credibility, making what you have to say all the more believable.


Besides the importance of knowing a little background on your audience, and being aware if there is a special reason that you're there, there are two other things to remember:


-- Speak with enthusiasm! Your attitude is everything.


-- Don't apologize! If you're afraid, don't have a lot of experience, or haven't practiced, keep those things to yourself. If you direct attention to your negative emotions, your fear and stress will "spread" and then your audience will feel uncomfortable, too. That's the last thing you want. Your goal is to make them listen to you, learn from you, and like you!


Enthusiasm doesn't mean you have to fake-smile or grin like a Labrador Retriever or a clown. It just means you should communicate a reasonable amount of energy and passion for what you're talking about. If it matches the content of your message to smile and use gestures, great. Vitality is very persuasive. It's a lot more fun to pay attention to somebody vivacious than a walking zombie whose only body part that's moving is that his hands are shaking! But if you have a serious topic that's not a smiling matter, you can still show enthusiasm by making a lot of eye contact, nodding your head, making sure they are paying attention to you, and so forth. You can find ways to convey intensity and zeal about your topic without cracking jokes or making inappropriate comments.


The best way to get good at starting with a bang is practice! Here are five good ways to start a talk or a conversation:


1.      Tell a brief, true story from your own life. Your audience wants to have rapport with you. Make them feel as if THEY were there, too.


2.      Make a statement that sparks their curiosity. This is a good way to lay the groundwork for your presentation and conclusion. Make them want to know how you can "prove" your opening statement; that'll make them want to listen and learn.


3.      Present significant, rather surprising facts, or startling statistics. People want to be taught! They want to be "in the know." You have to know your audience well enough to know the kinds of things they probably already know. Don't use that already-familiar, humdrum kind of fact! Instead, use things that were new to you and captured your attention, and chances are, they'll capture theirs, too.


4.      Ask a question. Instantly turn your talk into a direct relationship, you and them. It gets them involved! Direct them to self-search for what they feel about the question or what they think YOU feel about it. Make them want very much to know the answer.


5.      Use a prop or a visual aid to show, rather than tell, what you're going to talk about.


OK? Now let's choose one of these three topics, below. Once you have chosen your topic, take a moment to look back over the 5 ways to start. Now you can make up one, two or all five different openings for a talk about the topic you choose. Take your time! If you love it, and complete five starting ideas for all three of these topics, start making up MORE topics and list five ways to start for each of them, too.


(For #5, the prop or visual aid, if you don't have the actual article with you right now, you can write down what it is on a piece of paper and hold it up at the appropriate time).



Why I'm such a big fan of my favorite sports team, and you should be, too



If I wasn't a citizen of the United States, I would like to live in ______ (some other country), because . . .



The most important person in history was probably _____________ because . . .



By Susan Darst Williams Drama & Speech 03 2008

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