Accomplished public speakers know that they need to get the audience on their side the moment they step on stage. Here are some openers to avoid at all costs (and some positive techniques that can get you off to a solid start):
- Open with a joke. Few of us can tell jokes effectively. Why not begin with a surprising or seemingly contradictory statement as an alternative?
- Say “Good morning” or “Good evening.” Your audience already knows what time of day it is.
- Speak in a monotone. You might as well hand out sleeping pills. Make sure your Audio Tools—the way you sound—are in good working order.
- Recite a dry litany of facts. You are better off grabbing audience members’ ears with a personal anecdote or a provocative thought.
- Begin with a long, convoluted story. Start simple and expand during your presentation.
- Come onstage with eyes averted and shoulders slouched. Maximize your Video Tools—the way you look.
- Ask a confusing question to which no one knows the answer. Beginning with a question is fine. Just be sure its complexity does not distract your audience from your presentation.
- Recite a ribald tale. Bawdy language has no place in a professional environment.
- Mention religion or politics. Even if your audience is religious or political in nature, these topics are the third rails of public speaking.
- Belittle the previous speaker. Do unto others…
Okay, there’s my top 10. What’s yours?