– Attention-Getters for Public Speakers –
Attention-Getters for Public Speakers: In public speaking, a good introduction will capture an audience’s attention, while a bad introduction can turn an audience against a speaker. This is where an attention-grabber comes in.
5 Ways to Grab the Audience’s Attention
Telling a story is one of the most common attention-getters for Public Speakers. As long as the topic of the story is relevant to your presentation, you can choose any story.
Stories that are too long or dense do not work because you will probably have to use too much time before you reach your point.
You can use a personal story, which can make you more likable to the audience, or you can use imagery to bring the audience into the story.
Much like you would do when writing a paper, transition from the story to your thesis or main point.
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Thought-Provoking Rhetoric Questions
“As a speaker, you ask rhetorical questions for persuasive effect; you don’t expect the audience to answer aloud, rather silently to themselves,” Price explains.
When crafted and delivered well, rhetorical questions influence an audience to believe in the position of the speaker.
“Clearly, Shakespeare’s character Shylock is leading his listeners to think ‘yes’ four times in order to justify revenge against Antonio. What do you want your audience to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to?”
As Shakespeare wrote in “The Merchant of Venice,” “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
This device is probably the most direct, but it may also be the least interesting of the possible attention-getters. Here’s an example:
We are surrounded by statistical information in today’s world, so understanding statistics is becoming paramount to citizenship in the twenty-first century.
This sentence explicitly tells an audience that the speech they are about to hear is about the importance of understanding statistics. While this isn’t the most entertaining or interesting attention-getter, it is very clear and direct.
Funny is Never Corny
Laughing is a sign that people are happy and interested in what you are saying. This can make or break your speech, whether you are in front of the class or behind a podium.
If you are able to trick people into laughing, you are getting them to think that they are actually interested in what you have to say. This is why funny speech introductions can be useful.
The perfect example would be something that the group is able to understand, such as an inside joke. If you know the teacher has a tendency to misspell words, you can try a lighthearted, funny joke to start with.
For example, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Johns could spell the word ‘outrageous’ correctly for once? That would be outrageous!”
Not only would you get the attention of the class, but you are guaranteed to get the attention of the teacher, who is the main judge and the one giving you the mark!
Make it About the Audience
Now that you’ve gotten listeners’ attention with your magnetic opening, make the story about them. Increase your You-to-Me-Ratio.
Talk about their goals, their aspirations, and their anxieties. Cicero, a Roman statesman and orator, and one of the greatest speakers in the history of the world said, “Tickling and soothing anxieties is the test of a speaker’s impact and technique.”
He meant that you can capture attention if you remind an audience of a felt need, a pain point, or a threat to their well-being.
Make a statement of a universally accepted concept, then go against conventional wisdom by contradicting the statement. For example, a market trader starts by contradicting the commonly held advice of buying low and selling high. He says: “It’s wrong.
Why? Because buying low typically entails a stock that’s going in the opposite direction—down—from the most desired direction—up.” This is a provocative opening that engages the audience right away.
Be Rememberable: Use Quotes
Using a famous or related quote helps you transition to bringing your point across to an audience. People might recognize the quote or who first said it, or if they do not, the audience will be interested to hear more.
You should not pad your speech with quotes, but utilizing a few in key places gains the attention of an audience. It doesn’t hurt to use our own quotes, but make sure to keep them simple and not corny or forced.
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