When you put a little structure into your opening remarks, you’ll find anxiety diminishing and confidence soaring! Whether you are being introduced or you are introducing yourself, there are two main components to develop and rehearse:
1) Pre-opening formalities – including thank you, your greeting and an optional, gracious throwaway line.
2) Attention grabbing opening statement – for example, a story, commanding fact, or provocative question.
As part of the pre-opening process, if you are being introduced, as a guest speaker or invited vendor, say something first like: “Thank you for that great introduction, (name of person).” Make sure you know how to pronounce the person’s name correctly, and write it out phonetically if necessary.
Next is the greeting. It’s the equivalent of a formal “hello.” Traditionally, speakers say “Ladies and Gentlemen,” or “Hello, everyone,” or simply, “Good morning!” Try out what feels comfortable for you, and then practice it multiple times to you are totally comfortable and relaxed when saying your greeting.
Include what I call an “optional, gracious throwaway line.” You’ve heard them used but may not have realized what you were hearing! When a speaker says, “It’s great to be with you today.” Or, starts a talk by saying, “How ‘bout those (sports team nickname)!,” he or she is using an optional gracious throwaway line. The words do not advance the message. They simply give the speaker and the audience a few seconds to adjust to each other.
Prepare a really compelling opening statement that you’re excited to present. Part of the fear factor that sometimes jumps into our subconscious (or conscious!) mind is the worry that we’re going to be boring and lose the audience from the get-go.
How can you overcome this painful possibility? Here are three proven opening techniques to try out:
• Develop an opening statement that is purposely designed to command attention. You can share a compelling, relevant personal experience, timed to be a minute or less.
• Introduce a statistic that is impossible to ignore. (Florida sells more oxycodone than nearly all other states combined.)
• Pose an intriguing question that will result in a “yes” answer among those in your audience. You want to create a sense that everyone in the room is part of the “show,” an “in” group and not an “out” group.
Once your pre-opening and opening statements are written, say them aloud at least nine times (not necessarily all at the same time!) to be sure you can pronounce everything in as “natural” a way as possible. Put a smile in your voice! (If you pretend to be enthusiastic long enough, you actually start to feel that way.)
Stand before a mirror or video yourself to see your posture. Record yourself to hear your tone and diction. Too serious? Think of someone tickling you or whatever will help you take the edge away.
When you organize your comments and appear to be in control and enjoying yourself — from the moment you start speaking — no one will know otherwise, will they?
Get Tips to Capture Their Attention When You Begin Speaking! Click here to enjoy this free excerpt of How to Open to Keep Their Attention on You and Not Their Phones, a workshop Anne B. Freedman recently provided the Fort Lauderdale Chapter, National Association of Women Business Owners.
Want more help right now and always? Get your E-book: How to Write an Opening to Convince and Engage Your Audience Every Time, only $9.95! Just click here.