The two most delightful 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:
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….
My name is… (You’ve been introduced)
Can you hear me okay? Is this mike 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?
Boy, am I glad that is over
Thanks for your attention
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.
© 2008 – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.
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