Five Great Ways to Start a Speech

What’s Your Bang?

Kizito Nyuytiymbiy
3 min readAug 12, 2023

With today’s audience, you can’t afford to not grab their attention immediately with your first few words when you have a speech or a presentation. The first words of your speech are crucial in capturing your audience’s attention and setting the tone for what’s to come. The way you begin can make or break your presentation. But we can reduce the chances of an undesirable outcome. Here are five effective strategies that can help you start your speech with a confident bang 💣.

1. Start with a Question:

Questions create curiosity and a curious mind is an attentive mind. Pose a thought-provoking question with your very first words. This not only piques their interest but also encourages them to reflect on the topic you’re about to discuss. For instance, if you’re giving a speech about disabilities, you could open with, “How will the next 25 years of your life be like if you lost a leg today? What about both legs?”

2. Start with a Powerful Quote:

Leverage the wisdom of famous individuals or experts to emphasize the significance of your speech. A compelling quote can instantly establish credibility and resonate with your audience’s emotions. Imagine you’re speaking about leadership. Begin with a quote from a respected figure like Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

3. Start with a Shocking Fact or Statistic:

The human brain is captivated by surprising or alarming facts. Find such piece of information related to your topic and drop it upfront. Our brains wake up when numbers are mentioned. Statistics, when well presented, grab our attention. Good and relevant shocking facts also reveal to your audience the importance of the subject. Suppose you’re discussing the importance of mental health. Startle your audience with, “One in five adults will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime. That is, you or any one of the other two people to your right and your left.”

4. Start with Something Funny:

Humor makes us laugh and laughter is a powerful tool for break the cold ice and establish rapport with anyone you meet. Share a light-hearted anecdote or a witty remark that connects to your speech’s theme. Laughter secrets dopamine in the brain. Dopamine facilitates human connection and bonding which makes people more receptive. If your speech revolves around time management, you could start with, “They say time flies when you’re having fun, but what about when you’re trying to meet a deadline?”

5. Start with a Story:

Stories are the dictionary by which we interpret and understand life. They are a universal language prevalent in every culture across the world. Like food nourishes the body, so does stories the soul. We are wired to respond to stories. That is why beginning with a personal or relevant narrative draws your audience into your speech and helps them relate to your message on a personal level. So, if you’re discussing the importance of perseverance, you might kick off your speech with a story about a famous individual who overcame immense odds to achieve success. The story of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi are archetypal here.

These are all great ways to pull the curtains open. They not only capture the attention of your audience, but also set the stage for you to succeed. Deploy these techniques sensibly in different scenarios always keen to find the one that aligns best with your style and topic. Always ensure that no matter which style you choose. to deliver your opening lines with confidence and enthusiasm. In speaking a bad beginning tends to spell a bad end. In all you do start with a bang, and you are well on your way to delivering a captivating and impactful speech that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.