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