Real Life Examples Of Terrible Opening Lines

In Business Presentations, Communication, Education, exective coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on January 15, 2013 at 3:42 AM

The opening line of a presentation is a golden moment – it is the one time where 100% of the audience is paying full attention to the speaker. An effective speaker is able to capture the attention of the audience right from the beginning and uses the opening to gain attention and credibility.

I asked group of professional speakers and coaches for some of the worst opening lines they had heard and this is what they offered. Some of these are funny, some are painful, and some just make me shake my head in astonishment.

man covering ears

Use this list to help you think about how you will act the next time you address a group.

  • “That was a great introduction. I hope I can live up to it.”
  • “This is the first time I’ve spoken on stage and I just hope I can get through this!”
  • “I hope you’ll bear with me because I’m so nervous right now!”
  • “I really didn’t have much time to prepare…”
  • “I hope you will pardon me but I had no time to prepare my speech last week. If you do not understand what I am talking about, please send me an email, I’ll do my best then”
  • “I am so nervous and it has given me gas. I hope I don’t fart and embarrass myself.”
  •  “I know my talk is going to be less than stellar”
  • “I really don’t feel very well so I am probably not going to do very well”
  • “Well I know I’m not the best public speaker, but…”
  • “Since you have the handouts, what I’m going to say here is already pretty much covered completely in there so you can read it when you are finished with this lecture”:
  • “So how much time do I have?”
  • “I did not prepare for today so I will just wing it.”
  • “It is an honor to be here. Thanks for inviting me.”
  • “This is going to be one of those PowerPoint disasters we all dread.”
  • “Is there anyone in the audience that can explain (my topic) better than I can?”
  • “Ummmm……”
  • “Well, you all know me and what I do so….”
  • “I don’t really have much to say and my topic is really boring anyway”
  •  “Since you all know about this topic, why don’t we just open it up to questions”
  • “I know the previous speaker was really super, and I’m not, so please bear with me.”
  • “Bill Jones, who is really a great presenter, and who was scheduled to deliver this presentation had a scheduling conflict – so he asked me to fill in for him. I won’t be as good as Bill. Please bear with me.”
  • “I have misplaced the notes, so…”
  • “I really don’t know that much about this topic, but…”
  • “Lights please.”

A good opening builds your credibility and captures the attention of your audience. Take time to prepare your entire presentation and pay extra attention to the first words you want your audience to hear.

Do you have a “real life example” of a terrible opening line? Post it in the comment box!

© 2011 – All Rights Reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

  1. I kid you not but today at a meeting the speaker’s first two statements were “I am going to try not to talk through this entire presentation” followed by “My name is….” (He had just delivered a 1 minute infomercial and been introduced as the speaker. Unbelievable.

  2. […] Real Life Examples Of Terrible Opening Lines ( […]

  3. […] energy from your very first word.  Recently I read a blog post by speaking coach, Ethan Rotman, “Real Life Examples of Terrible Opening Lines”.  A couple of the 24 examples were merely weak (“It is an honor to be here; thanks for […]

  4. Saw a so-called “social media” guru start with, “When I was researching this group…” He then talked about topics irrelevant to the group. He was talking to Federal Pension Plan executives – but kept referring to “your company” and “your customers…” Of course, they are not a company and don’t have customers, just members. It was an angry audience by the time his two hours were up.

  5. On my second speech at my Toastmasters club, I started by saying, “Special announcement, there’s a truck with a duck.”…. and then waited for a response (Incredulity and bewilderment on the faces of the audience)…”Yes, that’s right. I was just outside and I noticed a big red truck out there with what appears to be a large dead duck on the windshield. If it’s your truck, please don’t be alarmed.”
    Although this was a true and thoughtful statement, I later learned that the timing was hardly appropriate and it set my speech off to an awkward start. It was unfortunate too, because I thought it was a great speech (The Bright Side of Tooth Loss).

  6. […] had already lost the ears of his listeners before he had even projected his first slide! (other real life examples of terrible opening lines on Ethan Rotman’s iSpeakEASY […]

  7. […] had already lost the ears of his listeners before he had even projected his first slide! (other real life examples of terrible opening lines on Ethan Rotman’s iSpeakEASY […]

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