The most difficult moments of a speech are those expanses of stage time while you get to your spot, find your notes or your clicker, look at the audience, wait for the applause to die down, and gather your wits to begin.
You’re hoping it all goes well, wondering whether the technology will work, fearing it won’t, and trying to figure out why you agreed to speak to this motley crowd in the first place.
Then you have to begin your speech. When you open your mouth, what comes out? Following are eight ways to begin a speech that go beyond my usual exhortations to start with a story, startling stat or question:
1. Begin with the way things used to be.
This strategy is useful to set up a talk about change or a new proposal for your team, organization or profession:
“It used to be that we could count on our customers to…”
“Until only recently, everyone thought that renters would always…”
“Remember how things used to quiet down in the summer?”