The first 30 seconds of any public talk is your ONE opportunity to reel in the audience. You can grab their attention, hook their interest, OR have them rolling their eyes and fiddling with their iPhones.
If you say any of the lines listed below, you’re more likely to lose your audience before you’ve even really started your talk.
- I’m so excited to be here! Really? You couldn’t think of anything better. It’s gratuitous and overused. Isn’t everything “exciting”?? Everyone says this and there are much better ways of starting off a speech. Don’t be like everyone else. Women especially overuse this word. It’s such an exciting time to be involved in women’s health issues….there are so many exciting developments….and I’m so excited to be here….and I know how excited everyone else is….let’s have an exciting day together. (I’m rolling my eyes over here).
- Watching the clock. Don’t keep us abreast of exactly how long you’ll be talking about specific topics. Just start talking. For instance, “today I’ll be speaking for 2 hours. First I’ll spend some time talking about X….then I’ll take 20 minutes to discuss Y….then we’ll take a 20 minute break…..then I’ll do a 10 minute exercise….” The more time you waste talking about “time,” the more I’m checking the clock. Again, EVERYONE does this. Veer away from what average speakers do…..move towards the phenomenal.
- I’m so honored, grateful, appreciative to be here. Confident people aren’t grateful. They know their own worth. They know their value and what they bring to the table. You can say “thank you for inviting me here”….but then MOVE on quickly. Thanking people at the top of your speech is still never the best opening line.
- Apology tour. Never, ever start off your speech with an apology. It is such a weakened, fragile place to start. It’s a fearful statement that basically screams you’re not worthy! For example, “I’m sorry to have to drag you here at 9am…..I’m sorry to have to keep you here so late……I’m sorry to keep you here so close to lunch, I know you’re hungry, so I’ll move quickly.” Why are you so sorry, for everything?
- I’m so nervous. I hate public speaking. It’s not nerves that are your problem. It’s a complete lack of preparation, and that’s insulting. Have you ever listened to someone start off their talk by saying how nervous they were? It’s never a good speech after that.
- I’ll just quickly tell you about……Why quickly? If it’s important doesn’t it deserve your fullest attention to detail? Why speed through it? If you have to discuss something “quickly” reconsider discussing it at all. It should be important enough to discuss in detail.
- Avoid clichéd phrases. I hate the word JOURNEY so much. It’s what unsuccessful people tell themselves. “Oh it’s all about the journey, not the destination.” Really? You can’t be serious. It’s definitely about the destination, and if you don’t have a destination in mind, an end goal, a vision or a dream, then you’re working on someone else’s.
Not preparing an AWESOME opening line is a major mistake. Take your time with this. An opening line is like a header in a newspaper or magazine, it’s what captures the audience’s attention. Start off unsure, hesitant or weak, and you’ve already lost some of your audience.
- Don’t forecast an upcoming dramatic/emotional/comedic moment in your speech. For instance, “You guys are really going to love this joke, it’s so funny, I don’t even know how I’ll get through it.” Have you ever heard a comedienne stop and tell the audience that the next line is going to be really funny?? Nah, it doesn’t happen.