The dos and don’ts of starting a speech

What your speaker does and says in the first minute can make or break a speech.

What your speaker does and says in the first minute can make or break a speech

What runs through your head when you’re sitting in an audience, and a speaker approaches the lectern?

“I hope this guy isn’t as boring as the last one.”

“Should I listen to her, or just check my BlackBerry?”

“I’ll give you 30 seconds, then I’m going into the lobby to check my voicemail.”

In the first seconds and minutes of his or her speech, your own executive speaker will face a crowd with the same inner questioning going on. Consciously or unconsciously, listeners are trying to decide if the speech, and the speaker, is worth their time. The cues that your speaker delivers, and the first few things he or she says, are make-or-break moments for a speech.

Chris Witt, author of the forthcoming book Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint and founder of San Diego-based Witt Communications, devotes a chapter in the book to starting off speeches on the right foot, and making sure that your speaker doesn’t lose the crowd’s attention.

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