How to Introduce a Poem, Speech & Debate
While poetry, speeches and debates differ greatly in terms of their style and effects, they are all types of verbal expression that are meant to be spoken or performed aloud in front of an audience. Due to this factor, it is essential that you know how to introduce each of them effectively so that your listeners are on the same page as you, and so that they are interested and looking forward to what you will say.
Think of an anecdote or situation from which your poem, speech or debate arises. Think of the details from that story or scenario that are most relevant to the work you will present, and write them down as reminders on the top of your printed speech, poem or debate introduction.
Address your audience immediately and on a personal level when you stand in front of them. Begin with the story or scenario that you have made notes about, and try to tell it in the most compressed and precise way possible so that they understand the ground situation you are working from in your piece or argument. Look at your notes only when and if necessary, and attempt to maintain eye contact with your audience members whenever possible.
State next exactly how this scenario connects to your poem, speech or debate position. For example, if I told a story about a woman I saw once in the grocery store who was denied service because of her elderly age, after telling the story, I would explain to the audience how this connects to what I will present. I might say, "Age discrimination is a huge problem in our current society, and I would like to address this issue further in my speech."
Make your introduction no more than two to three minutes long in order to maintain your audience's attention. Launch as quickly as possible afterward into the body of what you will present.
- Printed speech, debate introduction or poem
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