The Best and Worst Speech Openers: How to Capture Your Audience’s Attention

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Giving a speech can be a nerve-wracking experience. The pressure of walking on stage and knowing what to say can be overwhelming. However, the way you open your speech can make a significant impact on your audience. In this article, we will explore the best and worst speech openers to help you captivate your listeners during your next presentation, pitch, speech, or toast.

The Worst Ways to Open a Speech

When it comes to opening a speech, there are a few cardinal sins that should be avoided. Let’s take a look at some of the worst ways to start:

1. **Technical Difficulties**: Never start your speech by drawing attention to technical issues such as microphone problems or bright lights. Doing so will only distract your audience from your message.

2. **Nervousness**: Avoid mentioning your nervousness or how uncomfortable you feel in front of the audience. Acknowledging your nervousness will make your audience more conscious of it and create an atmosphere of anxiety.

3. **Half-hearted Welcome**: A lackluster or insincere welcome can set a negative tone for your speech. Avoid generic niceties or compliments that you don’t genuinely mean. However, if you can turn it into a humorous moment, like the example of Ken Robinson, it can work effectively.

The Best Speech Openers

Now that we’ve covered what not to do, let’s explore the best ways to open a speech and captivate your audience:

1. **Use Stories**: One of the most powerful ways to start a presentation is by telling a compelling story. Stories have the ability to engage the audience’s imagination and capture their attention. By sharing a personal or relevant story, you can create an emotional connection and make your audience feel involved.

2. **Present Your Big Idea**: Start off your speech by presenting your big idea or main message. Don’t make your audience wait for it; instead, dive right in and capture their attention from the beginning. Frame your big idea in an interesting and thought-provoking way to pique their curiosity.

3. **Quirky One-liner**: Humor and curiosity can be excellent tools to open a speech on a high note. Dare to start with an intriguing statement, a funny one-liner, or a question that grabs your audience’s attention. This approach adds an element of surprise and makes your speech more memorable.

Examples and Fill-in-the-Blanks

To help you understand how to implement these speech openers, here are some examples and fill-in-the-blanks that you can use:

1. **Story Opener**: Once upon a time, share a relevant story. I’m here today to share this story with you because explain the significance.

2. **Big Idea Opener**: You’re here for a reason, and that reason is present your big idea. The single most important thing I want to share with you today is emphasize your main message.

3. **Quirky One-liner Opener**: Did you know share an interesting fact about yourself, the audience, or the topic? Add a related statement or question that leads into your content.


Opening a speech effectively is crucial to capturing your audience’s attention and setting the tone for the rest of your presentation. By avoiding the worst speech openers and utilizing the best strategies such as storytelling, presenting your big idea, or using a quirky one-liner, you can engage your audience from the start.

If you’re interested in further enhancing your presentation skills, consider joining our course, “Powerful Presentations,” where we provide a framework for sharing ideas confidently and authentically in any setting. From stage performances to online videos, we cover various aspects such as nonverbal communication, storytelling, and humor. Visit to learn more and unlock your full presentation potential.

Remember, your speech opener sets the stage for success, so make it count!

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