Barbara P
Barbara P

How to Start A Speech - 13 Interesting Ideas & Examples

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8 min read

how to start a speech

First impressions matter, and in the world of public speaking, nailing the start of a speech is often the toughest part. It's where you capture your audience member's attention or risk losing it.

Many people find starting a speech daunting. Messing up in the beginning can lead to disinterested listeners and missed opportunities.

But here, we've got your back. In this blog, we'll show you simple, creative ways to begin your speech and ensure that you grab your audience's interest every time.

Keep reading to find out interesting ways to start your speech!

On This PageArrow Down

  • 1. Different Ways to Start a Speech
  • 2. How To Start Different Types of Speeches
  • 3. How to Start a Speech Examples

Different Ways to Start a Speech

When it comes to inspiring, persuading, and influencing audiences, your speech’s most essential element is the opening. 

So how do you start your speech in a way that will get the audience on your side?

Here are ten effective ways to start your speech successfully every time.  

Begin with a Quote

Quotes are gems of wisdom that resonate with people. They inspire and motivate while being easy to remember. 

Well-thought-out words of history’s best orators can sometimes be the ticket for your successful speech. 

One good example is: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.

Start with Statistics

Statistics are the proof that can add weight to your words. 

By opening with compelling and personalized statistics, you can add a quantifiable and persuasive aspect to your message. It provides you the basis for building your argument, supporting your claim, and proving it right.

An example could be: “72% of adult internet users use Facebook”.

Pose a Rhetorical Question

Rhetorical questions are engaging and thought-provoking. They invite your audience to think and participate in your presentation. These questions can captivate your listeners and lead them down the path of your message.

A very famous rhetorical question of all times by William Shakespeare is:

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not get revenge?” - The Merchant of Venice.

Open with a 'What If' Scenario

Creating a "what if" scenario sparks curiosity and imagination. You can use this technique to encourage your audience to envision a different perspective or a unique situation related to your topic.

For example: “What if you were blind for your life and today you just got to see the world? How have you imagined the world so far? And how do these colors attract you? By the way, is there anyone who is color blind?”

Make an Interesting Statement

You can start your speech with a powerful and catchy statement without asking the audience to pay attention to you. Interesting statements are very useful in engaging the audience and persuading them to listen and agree with you. 

A famous statement from Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk “Your Body May Shape Who You Are” is:

"So I want to start by offering you a free, no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes."

Share a Personal Anecdote or Experience

Sharing personal experiences creates a genuine connection with your audience. It allows them to relate to you on a human level and sets the stage for a compelling narrative.

For example: “I was in high school when I first fell in love…..”

People love stories of any kind from infancy and childhood. As soon as people learn that you are going to tell a story, they immediately settle down, become quiet and lean forward like kids around a campfire.

Give Meaningful Pauses

Pauses are the unsung heroes of a speech. Well-timed silence can emphasize your message and create an impact that words alone cannot.

Take a little pause every time you need to emphasize something. Knowing where to take a pause helps you make your message effective. 

For example: 

“Lyla is dead.”


“But they don’t know it yet.”

Envision a Scenario

By using the word "imagine," you can transport your listeners into your narrative. According to Frank Luntz, “One word automatically triggers the process of visualization by its mere mention: imagine.”

“Imagine” scenarios put the audience directly into the presentation by allowing them to visualize the extraordinary scenes. For example:

“Imagine you are hiking on Mount Everest, and you are just about to reach the peak, but suddenly you slip and roll down to the ground. How would you feel at that moment?”

Refer to the Historical Event 

You can capture your audience’s attention by referring to a historical event related to your speech. Well-known historical events are good reference points to get the audience to use their imagination. 

For example: “During the 1960s and ’70s, the United States intervened in the civil strife between North and South Vietnam. The result was a long running war of attrition in which many American lives were lost, and the country of Vietnam suffered tremendous damage and destruction.”

Start with Humor

Humor, when used thoughtfully, can instantly connect with your audience. It lightens the mood and draws people in, but it's essential to tread carefully to avoid offense.

An example of a humorous beginning is: “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” - Dr. Laurence J Peter.

Usage of humor is a genius trick to get your audience involved in your speech.

Create Suspense

Starting your speech with suspense can immediately capture your audience's curiosity and keep them engaged as they eagerly anticipate what comes next. This technique is effective for drawing your audience into a story, a mystery, or a problem that needs solving.

Example: "As the clock struck midnight, and the footsteps echoed in the darkness, she knew that her life was about to change forever. But, what was waiting for her beyond that door?"

Open with a Definition

Defining key terms or concepts at the beginning of your speech can set the stage for a clear and focused discussion. This is especially useful when your topic involves technical or specialized terms that your audience may not be familiar with.

Example: "Today, let's begin with a clear understanding of 'sustainable development.' It refers to the practice of using resources in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Invoke a Contradiction

Opening with a contradiction can intrigue your audience by presenting two seemingly conflicting ideas or statements, which encourages them to explore the topic further and seek resolution.

Example: "In a world where we often believe that 'time is money,' today, we'll explore a paradox – how sometimes, time spent without rushing can be the most valuable time of all."

These opening techniques can help you capture your audience's attention and set the tone for a successful speech. The choice of which one to use will depend on your topic, audience, and the overall tone you want to convey.

How To Start Different Types of Speeches

Speech openings are not one-size-fits-all; they should be tailored to the specific type of speech you're delivering. 

Here, we'll explore how to start various types of speeches, providing examples to illustrate each approach.

How to Start a Graduation Speech

Starting a graduation speech is a unique opportunity to inspire and reflect on the journey of the graduates. A great way to begin is by acknowledging the significance of the moment. For instance:

Example: "Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed faculty, proud parents, and, of course, the brilliant Class of 2023 - today, as we stand on the precipice of our future, we are not just marking the end of an educational journey but celebrating the beginning of countless new adventures."

How to Start a Persuasive Speech

In a persuasive speech, your aim is to influence your audience's thoughts, beliefs, or actions. Begin with a statement that grabs attention and introduces your persuasive intent:

Example: "Picture this: a world where every individual makes small, conscious choices every day to reduce their carbon footprint. Today, I'm here to persuade you that we can create that world, one step at a time."

How to Start a Presentation Speech

Starting a presentation speech requires a balance between engaging your audience and previewing the content. Open a speech or presentation with an engaging fact or question related to your topic:

Example: "Did you know that in just the last five years, the world has generated more data than in all of human history before that? Today, we're going to delve into the fascinating world of data analytics and its impact on our lives."

In each of these examples, the opening lines are designed to fit the specific type of speech. 
Remember that a well-crafted opening not only captivates your audience but also makes the rest of your speech more impactful.

How to Start a Speech Examples

Here are some samples of how to start a speech for students:

Expert Tip

Need more examples? Have a look at these speech examples and get inspired!

Now that you've learned various ways to start your speech and make a strong impression, you're well-prepared for your speaking journey.

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Barbara P


Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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