Successfully Starting a Speech to Remove Public Speaking Anxiety: 7 Proven Ways
If you have ever experienced public speaking anxiety, you will know how the first few sentences are the most stressful.
Once you start your presentation, any public speaking anxiety diminishes as your confidence builds.
A poor or fluffed start to a speech can have the opposite effect, increasing your public speaking anxiety.
One of the most common questions that my clients ask is how they can confidently start a speech and ‘what to say’.
The key to every presentation is to rapidly catch the attention of your audience in a way that makes them interested in listening.
7 Ways to Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety with a Confident Start
Ask a Question
Have you noticed how you will always answer any question you're asked?
Even if you just answer, it's silently?
This is the power of a question!
Each person listening to your question will also answer. When you can see how everyone in your audience is actively listening to you right from the start, you will feel a reduction in your public speaking anxiety.
Ask a Rhetorical Question
There is one significant advantage of asking a rhetorical question when you are experiencing public speaking anxiety.
You don’t need to worry about whether anyone answers the question. It's rhetorical after all!
If anyone answers, it shows they are keenly listening to your presentation.
Statistics that Surprise
We can often think of statistics as dull and boring rows of figures displayed on a slide or spreadsheet. When you share a short statistic which will surprise and interest your listeners, it will grab their attention.
Here's an example of one statistic which surprised me:
1 in 6 women would rather be blind than fat (Realbuzz, 2012)
This statistic would not sit well if given in a formal financial presentation unless it was related to the health sector.
As when asking a question, find a statistic from a reliable source that is relevant and of interest to those attending your presentation.
Starting your speech with a command is one way that's proved to get everyone's attention.
This type of start will be unexpected and entirely different from all the other speakers.
2 examples of the type of commands you could use: -
When said in a forceful tone and followed with a pause, this will be a powerful way to get attention, giving the impression you are not someone with any public speaking anxiety.
Raise Your Hand
I regularly see speakers ask attendees to raise their hand when starting a speech.
A well-phrased question can work well here as a way to get people interested and involved in the presentation.
In addition to being used as part of the opening, asking for a show of hands can be included in any part of a presentation.
We may not realise this, but even as adults, we all still love listening to stories.
The stories we share can be personal experiences or those of our colleagues, celebrities or maybe, if appropriate, the CEO.
These are the kind of stories that add interest and impact.
Stories about people the attendees know will create interest and a stronger connection than talking about concepts, theories, gadgets or gizmos.
Take the time to find quotes those attending the meeting are unlikely to recognise.
The quotes you select can come from many diverse sources.
Try to be different and look closer to home for examples from your parents, siblings, neighbours, in fact, anyone!
An appropriate unknown quote will create more impact on those attending the meeting than one they know.
When creating the opening for your speech, using one of these 7 proven methods will ensure you will successfully start a speech, helping reduce your public speaking anxiety and ensure your success!