Speaking in public can be a challenging experience. When you have spent a great deal of time researching and writing a speech, the last thing you want is to lose the attention of the audience in the first sentences of your presentation. Attention-getters for public speaking are much like introductions for formal papers, and using of one of those techniques improves the quality of your speech.
Telling a story is one of the most common ways of beginning a speech. 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.
Asking a question is another common way of starting a presentation. When you ask a question, it should be one that is thought-provoking and you should give time after asking the question to allow the audience to process their thoughts. You can ask a rhetorical question so that the audience can keep their answers to themselves, but they will be interested in what you have to say and how you would answer the question.
Humor relaxes the atmosphere during a presentation, so telling a joke can be a way to begin a speech. Humor can be difficult to use because, if you are telling too many jokes, your audience might not take you seriously. Humor can set the tone and mood of your presentation and make you seem more personable.
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.
Using similes, metaphors and other methods of comparing one thing to another can be a useful attention-getter. Especially when your topic is something that not any average listener will understand, putting the topic in other words and comparing it to something more commercial gains the attention of the audience and helps them understand what you are saying. Using figurative language brings the audience to your level.
Finally, the way you present yourself and your speech makes or breaks your presentation. Enthusiasm and confidence are two characteristics you want to portray. Speak clearly and give emphasis to points you want the audience to take with them. Being energetic maintains the attention of the audience. Have an interest in what you are saying, and the listeners will follow with you. Practice your speech. Smile and make eye contact. Even if you are nervous, present yourself professionally, really know your topic and create a positive and energetic atmosphere.