The Worst Ways To Start or End Your Talk

In BNI and Business Networking, business, Communication, executive coaching, marketing, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales on January 2, 2013 at 8:06 PM

The two most delightfopening-woman-eating-cupcake-ssul and memorable bites of a meal are the first and the very last. The first bite is preceded by anticipation: you wonder what lies ahead. The food hits your tongue and there is a joy as the flavors spread through your mouth. That final bite of dessert is the taste that will linger in your mouth long after you leave the table.

The most memorable parts of a talk are the first words and the final parting thought at the end. The first words help the audience know if the flavor of your talk is one to which they want to listen. The final statement is the one that lingers in their mind as they walk away.

These two spots are where you have the greatest ability to influence your audience. Many times, speakers do not adequately prepare for these parts and lose the opportunity presented. Below are some sure-fire phrases to help you lose confidence and credibility:

Terrible opening lines:

  • Um… I didn’t have time to prepare for this talk
  • I hate public speaking
  • I don’t know why I was asked to talk
  • As you know….
  • Lights please
  • My name is… (You’ve already been introduced)
  • Can you hear me okay?
  • Is this microphone on?
  • I don’t give many talks
  • Bill Jones knows more about this topic than me….
  • Bill Jones was supposed to talk, but he wasn’t available so you’re stuck with me
  • And without further ado…

Terrible closing lines

  • That is all I have to say ‘
  • Well, I hope you got my main point (Then don’t repeat the main point)
  • Was I clear enough?
  • Questions?
  • Um…
  • Boy, am I glad that is over
  • Thanks for your attention
  • Lights
  • Bill Jones could have explained this to you better
  • That is it
  • I’m done.
  • Sure wish Bill could have been here to do this

A strong opening grabs the audience and encourages them to listen. A strong closing demonstrates to the audience that you are confident and competent.

Use these two opportunities to your benefit. Take time to plan and practice your opening and closing statements so you both create the anticipation in the minds of your audience and then leave them with the wonderful flavors of your talk in their minds.

Do you have “favorite” terrible opening or closing lines you have heard? Hit the comment button and share them with other readers!

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  1. Great point Ethan! It always sets a bad expectation when the speaker starts with excuses. If there is some issue,its better not to call attention to it. One line I’ve heard is – I won’t take too much of your time – after all the audience IS there to give the speaker time and attention.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. Specifics are always helpful. Reading the “worst” draws attention to these two critical parts of a presentation, and raises our awareness to the impression we present to an audience. Perhaps in our prep, we set aside these portions to concentrate on the “meat” of the presentation – content! This lack of attention could leave the introduction in the “mediocre” category if not the “worst.”. People don’t hear content very well if the presenter is tepid or trite in their introductions or conclusions. This article is helpful to encourage us to go back and re-tool what we have written to make it “memorable.”

    • Your comments are VERY WELL stated Karen – thank you. It is interesting how we do focus on the “meat” (or tofu) of the presentation even though the parts of the talk the audience is most likely to hear, and the parts they are most likely to remember, are the opening and closing. You are very wise.

  3. My favorite bad opening line is “Governor Schwarzenegger couldn’t make it, so he sent me at the last minute, and I don’t have anything prepared. I just started in this position recently” Actual opening line for a terrible presentation. At least he did warn us though.

  4. I think that the worst openings I’ve seen or heard started long before the speaker began with their delivery. Fumbling with computers to open a slideshow after they’ve been introduced, figuring out how to use a slideshow remote, or rustling a microphone are all distractions that can convince the audience that you’re not confident or competent before you ever say a word.

  5. […] The Worst Ways To Start or End Your Talk […]

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