How to Start a Speech, Presentation or Talk | Media Training

How to Start a Speech, Presentation or Talk | Media Training

My clients often ask me “TJ, what is the best way to start off a speech or presentation?”

“Should I start with a joke?”

No, you don’t have to start with a joke. The only thing that is really important is to say something interesting to the audience. Unfortunately, 99.9% of speakers don’t do that. Instead, they start with this:

“Good morning. Thank you for that wonderful introduction (that I wrote). I’m happy to be here today. Today, I am going to talk about blah, blah, blah. Before I start (even though I have clearly started already), I’d like to tell you about the boring history of my company, blah, blah, blah. And I’d like you to know that we have offices in the following cities (even though you are in this city and don’t care about other cities).”

Please notice that I’ve said “I” or “I’ve” five times already.

Are you asleep yet? And if not asleep, have you caught up on your email?

Most speakers feel obligated to go through these housekeeping matters in a perfunctory manner. And the audience feels obligated to not pay attention-who can blame them.

The secret is to just say something-anything-that is interesting or useful or relevant to the audience. Just dive right in to actually delivering substance. Don’t talk about yourself, don’t talk about your speech, don’t talk about what you are going to talk about. Just TALK about something interesting and relevant to the audience. No good mornings or thanks you’s; just say something interesting!

If you do that, you will be off to a much better start than all of the people who speak before or after you.

TJ Walker is president of Media Training Worldwide. You can find his online training courses here.

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