How to Craft an Excellent Intro

When you speak, you have about 60 seconds to capture the audience’s attention, establish credibility, and clarify your topic.  You can’t afford to let these precious seconds go to waste.  That is why your introduction is one of the most critical components of your presentation.  These first few seconds will determine whether your audience continues to listen or quickly gets distracted by emails, smartphones, and digital tasks.  This is a tall order for even the most seasoned speakers and it requires a well-crafted and well-rehearsed opener.  Here are a few things you can do to ensure your intro is captivating and attention worthy.

Get the Audience’s Attention

The first thing you need to do is capture the attention of your audience.  If you waste these precious seconds by giving an outline of your presentation, rambling about housekeeping details, or telling them your name and where you’re from, you are likely to lose your audience right from the start.  Instead, you need to say something interesting that will get their attention right away.  There are several ways you can do this:

  • Choose a shocking statement.

A good hook is one that gets the audience engaged and makes them want to hear more.  You can make an outrageous or provocative claim such as, “Everyone in this room has one thing in common…we are all liars.”  While you may not agree with the comment, it certainly grabs your attention and leaves you wanting to hear more.   Your best bet is to be bold and say something that will challenge common beliefs.

  • Ask a question.

Another great attention grabber is a question.  You can ask a rhetorical or thought-provoking question for a persuasive effect.  When they are crafted well, these questions influence an audience to believe in the position of the speaker.  Questions are a great way to arouse curiosity and motivate your audience to think.

  • Give a shocking statistic.

Bold, shocking statements are headlines are interesting and can be a great way to captivate audience attention.  They make an impact and persuade the audience to listen.

  • Use a powerful quote.

There are some amazing quotes that are compelling and speak to an audience.  Choose a quote that is relevant to your topic and provides meaning about what you are going to say.

Tell a Captivating Story

Now that you have your audience’s attention, make your intro even more compelling by sharing a story.  Storytelling has always remained one of the most powerful tools for speaking.  As humans, we are drawn to a good plot with thoughtful dialogue.  Stories teach us lessons and remind us of our own lives.  You can tell a personal story that will give audience an idea of why you are so invested in the topic.  You can also tell a story about another person that the audience can learn from.  The idea is to captivate listeners and use your story to convey a message about your topic.

Use Props or Visual Aids

We are all familiar with the expression, “ a picture is worth a thousand words.”  That’s because images hook our attention,   evoke emotion, and help to emphasize our point. You could use a compelling photograph or image.   You can show a short video clip.  You could also use a prop such as a giant clock, a deck of cards, a bunch of carrots, or any other prop that might directly relate to your topic.  Props give people a chance to connect imagery with your message and you can use this opportunity to inject humor into your presentation.  Visuals are a great way to entertain people while you are educating them.