It’s show time! You have the audience in front of you and it’s time to give the speech of your life. But before you even start, you need to get their attention. After all, how can you change their lives if they’re not even listening?
If you watch some of the more successful public speakers, you will notice that they all have one thing in common: they know how to get attention within the first 60 seconds.
Every great speech starts with an attention getter that captivates the audience and draws them in. They make people want to listen to what you have to say and set the tone for the rest of your speech.
There are a few characteristics of good attention getters, including:
- They’re relevant to your topic.
- They’re interesting, so people actually want to listen to what you have to say.
- They’re short, so you don’t waste valuable time that could be spent on the rest of your speech.
- They make a connection with the audience, so they feel like you’re speaking to them directly.
- They’re memorable, so people will remember your speech long after you’ve finished speaking.
Now that you know what makes a good attention getter, let’s take a look at some of the best attention getters for effective speeches.
Anecdotes are short, usually personal stories that are used to illustrate a point. They’re often used as opening remarks in persuasive speeches because they can immediately capture the attention of the audience and connect you with them on a personal level.
People love stories, especially ones that are relatable or personal. A good anecdote should be relevant to your topic, interesting, and relatable to your audience. It should also be relatively short, so you don’t spend too much time on it and lose their attention.
For example, let’s say you’re giving a speech about the importance of never giving up on your dreams. You could start with a story about how you almost gave up on your dream of becoming a successful writer, but you kept going and now you’re a published author.
2. Rhetorical Questions
Rhetorical questions are questions that you ask for effect, not because you actually expect an answer. They’re often used to engage the audience and make them think about your topic in a new way.
Rhetorical questions can be especially effective as attention getters because they can immediately draw people in and get them thinking about your topic. They can also be used to make a point or challenge the audience’s beliefs.
The psychology behind rhetorical questions is that they create a state of cognitive dissonance, which is when people have conflicting belief systems. This cognitive dissonance then motivates people to try to reduce the conflict by finding more information about the topic.
For example, let’s say you’re giving a speech about the importance of taking care of the environment. You could start with a rhetorical question like, “How can we expect future generations to take care of the planet if we’re not doing our part?” This question would immediately get people thinking about the issue and how they can do their part to help the environment.
Statistics are a great way to add credibility to your persuasive or argumentative speech and make your ideas more convincing. They are really good attention getters because they’re often shocking or surprising.
When using statistics as an attention getter, make sure that they’re relevant to your topic and that they’re from a reliable source. You also want to make sure that you explain the statistics in a way that’s easy for people to understand.
For example, let’s say you’re giving a speech about the importance of recycling. You could start with a statistic like, “Did you know that the average person produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day?”
This statistic is shocking and relevant to the topic of recycling. It would immediately grab the attention of the audience and make them want to learn more about what they can do to reduce their waste.
However, you want to make sure that you use them wisely and don’t overload your speech with too many numbers.
Quotations are an effective attention getter because they provide thought-provoking information while also adding credibility to your speech. Be sure to attribute the quotation to its rightful owner, though, or you may find yourself in hot water!
Quotes can be especially effective if they’re from a well-known or respected person. Use it to get more buy-in from your audience on your topic, or to challenge the audience’s beliefs.
For example, let’s say you’re giving a speech about the importance of taking risks. You could start with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that says, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
This quote is inspiring and relevant to the topic of taking risks. It would immediately engage the audience and get them thinking about how they can push themselves outside of their comfort zone.
5. “What if” scenarios
“What if” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. It has the ability to change your perspective on a situation and help you see things in a new light. It can also be used to make a point or challenge the audience’s beliefs.
When used as a speech hook, “what if” can help you grab your audience’s attention and get them thinking about your topic in a whole new way.
For example, let’s say you’re giving a speech on the importance of voting. You could start your speech with a “what if” question: “What if everyone who didn’t vote decided to vote this year?”
This question would likely get your audience thinking about the potential impact of their vote, and it might even inspire them to head to the polls.
Humor is a great way to engage your audience and get them to pay attention to your speech. A good joke helps break the ice, eases tension and shows that you’re confident, relaxed, and comfortable. When you can make people laugh, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say.
It’s important to use humor wisely when you are delivering a speech. If you’re not careful, your jokes could fall flat or even offend your audience.
Make sure that your jokes are appropriate for your audience. If you’re speaking to a group of children, for example, you’ll want to avoid jokes that might be too complicated or offensive.
Timing is also extremely important when using humor as an attention getter. A well-timed joke can get a laugh and keep people’s attention.
You could use humor in many ways, including:
- Self-deprecating: making fun of yourself
- Observational: making fun of the situation or other people
- One-liners: clever or funny sayings that get a laugh
- Stories: entertaining tales that relate to your message
- Jokes: classic set-ups with punchlines
- Physical comedy: using your body or props for humor
- Improvisation: making up jokes on the spot
- Imitation: imitating the voice of a famous person/character
A little bit of humor can go a long way. If you try to force it, you’ll likely end up coming across as awkward or desperate. Just relax and let the funny moments happen naturally.