How To
8 min read

How to Write a Good Introduction for Your Speech

Soniya Khubchandani

September 11, 2022

Your intro can make or break your entire speech.

The starting part of your speech does more than introducing the topic. 

It also sets the tone for how the audience will perceive you and what you have to say.

In fact, many speakers believe that if you don't connect with your audience at the beginning of your speech, it's unlikely they will follow through till the end.

So, how do you write an introduction that hooks your audience into your speech and sets the stage for what's coming?

We have put together this in-depth guide to simplify the process of writing a speech introduction that compels your audience.

Let us start learning about crafting an introduction speech to improve your public speaking.

Steps to writing a solid introduction for your speech

We break down the entire process of writing a compelling introduction to open a speech into a series of actionable steps. Each step is explained in detail for you to understand and implement.

Determine the objective of the speech

Before you start writing your speech, you need to think about what you want to communicate to your audience.

The purpose of your talk will guide the entire speech writing process from starting to finishing and help keep you on track.

As you continue to write your speech outline, keep checking in with yourself as to whether or not each step you're taking helps accomplish this goal.

If you're unsure what your purpose is, ask yourself, "What am I trying to accomplish with this speech?" and then write down the answer. This will help keep your focus on what you want your audience to walk away from hearing.

For example, if your goal is to teach people a new skill entertainingly, then you must create a structure that moves logically through what they need to know and how they should learn it while also keeping them entertained along the way.

Understand your audience

The next step is to spend time understanding your audience.

Conduct your research to learn more about their backgrounds, interests, and concerns.

Make yourself as acquainted as possible with the people listening to your speech.

The more you know about your target audience, the better you'll be able to tailor the introduction. This is especially important if you are speaking about a new or unfamiliar topic for those in attendance.

When speaking to a large audience, it's also valuable to understand their interests and concerns by conducting research.

If possible, talk with an audience member who will be at your speech ahead of time so you can get an idea about what they know about the subject and what questions they might have.

For example, if your speech is about the importance of recycling and addressing a group of local government officials, speak about cost savings and helping the environment.

If your speech is about reducing energy use at home and addressing homeowners, emphasize that saving money on utility bills is an easy way to have more money in their pockets.

Use an attention-grabber

Hooking your audience's attention in the first few seconds of your speech introduction can distinguish between an unforgettable and forgettable talk.

A strong hook will create interest and curiosity, encouraging audiences to listen closely to what you have to say.

In fact, scientists believe we have the attention of about 9 seconds, the same as a goldfish. This is why it’s important to nail an attention-getter to have an effective speech.

Alt text: attention span
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/YEuWGJO2 

Here are some ideas to create a strong attention-grabber for your speech's introduction.

Start with a question

Asking a question at the beginning of your speech can be a great way to grab the audience's attention.

There are many ways to do this, but one of the best is to ask a question that makes the audience think about a problem.

This will make the audience feel like they're part of the solution and can get them invested in your speech.

A good question will also get the audience thinking about what they know about the subject and how much they'll need to learn to solve the problem. In this way, you're giving them a reason why they should listen carefully for the rest of your speech.

For example, in this video, the speaker directly opens up with a question to the audience.

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You can also use a rhetorical question that does not require an answer.

For example, what's the meaning of life?

Such questions are powerful speech elements and add humor or drama to your narrative.

Pro Tip: Use AI to generate exciting questions with CopyAI's free-to-try Question Generator tool.

Example of generating questions using CopyAI tool

Start with an anecdote or personal story

Alt text: Speech example of a personal anecdote being used by Steve Jobs. Source

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An anecdote is a short story that illustrates a key point.

Anecdotes are a great way to open a speech. They're personal, make the audience feel like they know you, and get everyone paying attention immediately.

They're also a great way to start a successful speech because they can be used to transition from the introduction into your main message or thesis statement.

Anecdotes are particularly useful when you want to get the audience laughing or at least smiling, as they make people feel good and more receptive.

For example, if you're giving an inspiring motivational speech about how to succeed in life, one way to use this technique is by telling an anecdote about a time when you failed at something but learned from it and then turned things around. This sets up the idea that failure isn't so scary and shows how people can overcome their challenges by learning from them.

Start with a shocking statement

At the beginning of your speech, there are a few different ways to grab your audience's attention. One way is by using a shocking statement that will shock the audience and make them think, "What?!"

When you use a shocking statement, it should be relevant to your speech topic.

For example, if you're giving an informative speech about improving customer service at restaurants, then saying, "I hate when people don't tip their waiters," is an intelligent way to start because it shows that you're passionate about this subject. 

But saying, "I hate when people don't tip their waiters because I'm going through a divorce right now and need the extra money," would not be appropriate since it doesn't have anything to do with customer service.

Start with a humorous joke

Example of a speaker using humor in speech introduction. Source

A humorous joke is an excellent way to start a great speech because it can make the audience smile or laugh and get them in a good mood before you tell them what you have to say.

If you use humor in your speech opener, make sure it is relevant to your subject.

Another critical thing to remember when using humor in your speech opener is that it should be clean and appropriate for the audience's age group. If possible, ask someone who knows about public speaking if it would be okay before using it during your presentation.

Start with a powerful quote

A great way to hook the audience is to begin your speech with an attention-grabbing quote.

When people hear a quote from a famous person or someone they admire, they feel connected to that person's ideas and message.

Quotes can be compelling because they give people something to think about before the rest of your speech begins. 

So how do you choose which quote will best grab your audience's attention?

You should choose quotes that mean something to you personally. You should also pick quotes that resonate with the audience and speak to them on an emotional level.

If you don't have a quote that works for you, don't worry. There are plenty of websites where you can find quotes to use in your speech. Consider asking friends and family members for advice on a good opening quote or famous speeches to research for your talk.

Start with requesting your audience to "imagine”

Another powerful attention-grabbing idea is to ask your audience to "imagine" something.

The idea is that they will engage their minds and think about what you are saying.

For example, if you were giving a speech on how polluted our oceans are, you could start by saying, "Imagine that you are sitting at the beach on a beautiful summer day and suddenly see a large oil spill coming towards shore. What do you do?"

The audience will likely think about what they would do if this happened and then listen keenly as you move onto your main topic on pollution of our oceans because they will want to hear what else happens next.

Reveal your topic

After you have captured your audience's attention, it is time to get down to the business of your speech. 

The first thing you should do is to reveal your topic. You can make sure your audience knows what to expect by doing this.

If you do not reveal your topic, the audience will have no idea what they are listening to and will probably tune out. 

You want them engaged in what you say, not lost in their thoughts or wondering why they are there.

An effective way to reveal your topic is by telling a story that illustrates it. You can use this story as a hook at the beginning of your introductory speech and then use it again when revealing your topic.

Motivate your audience to listen

One of the most important aspects of giving a speech is making sure that your audience is listening to you attentively. 

The best way to do this is by giving them enough reasons to be convinced that it is worth their time.

Emphasize the importance of your topic. Tell them why it's important and how it will affect their lives. If you can make them feel that there's something in it for them, they'll be more inclined to pay attention.

To do this, you have to speak about your subject in a way that makes it interesting for your audience. You need to make them see how your words are relevant to them and their goals.

This can be accomplished by focusing on the people in front of you instead of on yourself or your topic.

Provide a roadmap for the speech

A good speech is not just about telling people what you know. It's about telling them what they need to know. That means that you have to be able to organize your information so that it is relevant, engaging, and easy to follow.

It's a good idea to provide a clear outline or speech structure for what you will cover in your speech after revealing the topic. An organized speech will help your audience know what to expect, and it will also help you stay on track.

You don't want your audience to get lost in a confusing maze of information. It's vital to have transitions between ideas and supporting points so listeners can follow along easily.

Tease into your first point

Closing in on your main point is a great way to keep your audience engaged. 

You've already built up some suspense, so teasing your main idea will make people want to listen more closely.

Here are some ideas for how you can tease your main point.

Mention what it is not. For example, "This is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons why we should invest in clean water technologies."

Give a hint about what it consists of or why it matters. For example, "I'm going to talk about how we can reduce our carbon footprint today by implementing simple changes at home, and I will even offer some free resources to help you get started right away."

Tell a story that prepares your audience for what you're about to say. For example, "When I was traveling in India last year, I met an entrepreneur who had started up his own solar-powered water filtration system company. He told me how this technology has helped provide clean drinking water for over 600 families in rural areas without the need for government infrastructure.”

Ultimately, you have to create a smooth transition from the introduction part to the body of your speech.

Closing remarks on introduction speech writing

A great introduction shows potential listeners why they should continue listening to you.

Investing additional time in crafting one can be the difference between your speech landing on deaf ears and getting big applause from the crowd.

The best ones are personal, relevant, and brief. They connect with the audience by establishing a shared context and creating curiosity about what comes next.

We hope this guide helps to improve your presentation skills and has given you many points on how to write an attention-grabbing introduction to your upcoming speech.

If you need more help writing persuasive speech content, give CopyAI's ai writing assistant tools a spin.

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