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It's that horrible moment. You've just been called to stage, your audience are silent, waiting for you to open your mouth and now it's your turn. But what do you say? How do you start a speech with power and confidence, rather than the usual "Erm... thanks very much for inviting me here"...
The simple truth is… your audience will judge you from the moment you start your speech. Harsh I know but very true. So it's a good idea to start your speech with certainty and confidence. Here are some top tips for how to prepare yourself to start your speech with power and confidence.
As the wise Maya Angelou said:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So starting a speech is not as much about what you say as you might think. In fact the key thing I want to emphasise about starting a speech is to get yourself in the right state. If you show your confidence, your audience will have confidence in you too.But you don't have to start 'all-guns-blazing'.
The biggest cause of nerves in public speaking is that most of us try to be someone we're not; so to get started with confidence, start with being yourself. If the all-guns-blazing kapow, kapow approach just isn't your style, don't start your speech like that. Find a different way to start that's powerful for you.
Permission to be authentic.
We can spend all the time in the world worrying about speaking; Am I wearing the right clothing? Do I have all my stuff here? What will the audience think of me? Endless questions might worry you about your presentation but what you really need to be focused on is just spending a few moments getting back to yourself.
Connect to yourself by finding a method to break the distance between yourself and your speaking and the nerves that you feel. You might like to head outside for a few moments or even go to the loo; find a place that is a little bit quiet and do a short breathing exercise. Focus in on your breath as well as your intentions for your speaking.
Doing this allows you to be grounded and to start your speech as yourself, rather than starting from a place of panic or self doubt.
And now onto what you're going to say. First off, avoid starting a speech with lines like:
This is your moment to shine, so shine from the get-go. To start your speech with power, find something unique, engaging and memorable to say. And make sure it's a line that you're 100% comfortable with, so your talk flies rather than sags from the beginning.
You might start your speech with a provocative question -
An amazing or shocking fact -
A joke -
By evoking an image -
All of these speech beginnings get the audience connected and ready to listen. And a great opening line allows you to settle into your speech so that you can shine.
So remember, start your speech with confidence and power by first being yourself and then having a great opening line. Good luck!
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