Its been almost 14 days now since i last wrote down my goals and let me tell you that although i haven't completed all the goals that i set forward to achieve, i do have 1 particular achievement that i want to share with you. I am very glad to inform you that i have successfully completed my Project 1 Speech at Toastmasters and it surely does feel great!

I was planning to give this speech since the last month but because had just joined the club it was recommended to me that i take on smaller roles before my Project 1 Speech.

I must say that i did some amount of preparation and this whole process until the delivery of the final speech lead to a lot of learning and great experiences. I am planning to post the actual speech that i delivered that day along with resource links that will help you write and deliver your first speech.

Although there were many factors that led to people liking my speech, one of the most integral parts that really created a WOW, so to speak, was my speech Opening. In my opinion, a great opening sets the tone of the whole speech and can determine whether the speech will be remembered in the days to come or not.

Creating an Effective Opening for your Speech:

1) Hold and keep the attention of the audience:

Like i said before, the opening is the biggest opportunity to WOW your audience, to grab their attention and to communicate that you mean business! Here are some ways in which you can create that amazing Opening.
  • Tell a Story: From thousands of years, story telling has been the most effective way, of persuading people to fight wars, change sides and religions, to understand difficult theories and even to create an effective work atmosphere. Stories have their own ways of grabbing attention and holding till the very end. An effective story teller can induce sensations of frustration, angst, loss or even triumph with the help of actions, effective words, facial expression and most importantly silence. Coming to the context of our speech, a well structured story can really infuse the audience with a new life and make them wants to know whats next.
          (Make sure though that the story relates in someway to your speech and to what your going to say next!)

  • Tell a Joke: There is nothing more relaxing and fun than to start your speech with a small joke. This will not only capture your audiences attention but will also lighten the mood especially if the previous speech was a very sad or boring one.The best speakers usually make use of self deprecating humor because this serves many purposes. Firstly, it shows that the author is confident about himself/herself and secondly it eliminates any chance of people getting offended because the joke is on the speaker and not anyone or anything else.   
          (Now it goes without saying that the joke must be related to what you are speaking about!  Otherwise it might just distract the audience and lower your value as a speaker)

  • In addition, if you are become good at adding humor to your speeches and if your able to build rapport with your audience in such a manner, you can take part in various Humor Speech Contests that are help at Toastmasters. Who knows you can laugh all the way to the International Humor Speech contest!
  • Share a great saying or a phrase: This technique is also really popular and gets really good results mainly because it is so easy to relate to. A well researched saying that is related to the topic of the speech can give something for the audience to think about, help them relate to their personal lives and hold them spell bound!
  •  The rule of Three or the Triad: 
          This is an excellent way to effectively communicate what you want to say and if needed stress and emphasize your points. If practiced well, this will add charm and a lot of value to your speech.

I used a modified version of this technique for my opening by saying, "Thunder, Lightning, waters gushing down road, people scurrying with their umbrellas and the pleasant smell of earth wafting through". The purpose of my opening was to take the audience away from the seats and drop them right in the midst of a heavy downpour of rain in the city of Mumbai, in a way that they can actually get the touch, feel and smell of a rainy day.

Examples of the Triads:

  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  2. Blood, Sweat and Tears
  3. Touch, smell and feel
  4. Gun, Smoke and Rock and Roll
(Now an expert technique to really impress your audience is to add humor to your Triads. Now i wont go much in detail about how to do it but here is an example."When i landed my job in a new city, my friends doubled, my work tripled income...didn't change.."

Key Points to Remember:

Remember to establish Rapport with the audience, appear Enthusiastic and add curiosity, mystery and suspense to your speech to make it more interesting.

Remember that no matter how well your write your speech, how well you practice or how well you know your audience. THINGS CAN GO WRONG! The important thing is to get that very valuable feedback from Members and guest alike, Find out what went wrong and what went right and prepare even harder for your next speech!

Hope you get a standing ovation!!

Till next time....Have a great life and life every moment to the fullest!

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