The opening of the speech is important especially because the minds of the hearers are fresh and are comparatively easy to impress. It is of too much consequence to be left to chance; it ought to be carefully worked out in advance.
The introduction ought to be short, only a sentence or two. Often it can be dispensed with altogether. Wade right into the heart of your subject with the smallest possible number of words. No one objects to that.
Novices are prone to begin either with attempting to tell a humorous story or by making an apology. Both of these are usually bad. Very few people-very, very, very few can relate a humorous anecdote successfully. The attempt usually embarrasses the audience instead of entertaining them.
Stories should be relevant, not dragged in just for the sake of the story. Humor should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Never apologize. It is usually an insult to your audience; it bores them. Drive right into what you have to say, say it quickly and sit down.
A speaker may be able to win the immediate attention of his audience by:
1. Arousing curiosity
2. Relating a human interest story
3. Beginning with a specific illustration
4. Using an exhibit
5. Asking a question
6. Opening with a striking quotation
7. Showing how the topic affects the vital interest of the audience
8. Starting with shocking facts
Don’t make the opening too formal. Don’t let the bones show. Make it appear free, casual, inevitable. This can be dome by referring to something that has just happened, or something that has just been said. (Illustration: Yesterday, as the train passed through a city not far from here, I was reminded…”)
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Typing amorously for you,