The beginning of a speech is vital for getting your audience's attention. Without a good introductory hook, listeners may tune out and miss your purpose. The introduction contains background information listeners need about the topic, a preview of the points you will cover, a statement to establish your credibility with regard to the topic and your thesis to illustrate your purpose. However, the speech needs to begin with an attention-getter. The type of hook varies depending upon the type of speech and the topic for your presentation.
Three Ways to Capture an Audience
Begin with a quotation from a master in the field you are speaking or writing about, or from an individual from popular culture. This demonstrates that you have prior knowledge and credibility as a speaker or writer. The use of a quotation also provides the audience with a frame of reference to begin to understand the argument. For instance, a speech that is going to argue for racial equality may begin with a quote from Marin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks to give your audience someone to connect with.
Ask the audience a question. This is a powerful rhetorical device because it makes the audience part of the conversation. Of course, the audience does not have to literally respond to your question. Questions also give the audience a chance to think about the topic.
Quote statistics and facts - hard evidence that cannot be debated because it is proven by logic and science. Audiences are apt to believe a speaker who uses credible facts as evidence. They tend to listen to a speaker who opens with this type of information. This option is useful for speeches surrounding the fields of science, health and politics, which rely on statistics.