Most people when they come to work with us already have some idea of how their speech will go. And the most common mistake people make is starting wrong. They begin with some polite thanks, a little self-introduction, perhaps a shout-out to someone in the audience.
What’s wrong with it? Recall movies from the 1940s. How did they begin? How does Casablanca, my favorite all-time movie, begin?
When I ask clients that, they’ll say, “Didn’t it start with shots of planes and the city of Casablanca?”
No. That movie starts with 7 minutes of credits.
Now, think of how movies made in this century begin. With action. With lots of action, even before the credits roll. Or perhaps underneath the credits. Take James Bond. You get 7 minutes of heart-pounding action, then the credits.
That’s your competition. The world has changed. Audiences no longer have the patience and attention span to listen to you clear your throat (metaphorically) for 7 minutes or even 3 minutes before you start actually delivering stuff they want to hear.
So jump right in. Start with action. Start with a story. Start with an explosion – a metaphorical one. But start right away. Audiences today expect you to get right to the point.
That’s the best way to start a speech.