If you are to deliver a speech in front of your class, you probably have two main goals— to convey your message strongly and to avoid humiliating yourself while doing so. Succeeding in these two means preparing and practicing your speech, especially the introduction!
To start a class speech, there are several ways to make it more memorable rather than stating your name and the purpose of the speech. You can start with a quote, imagine and what-if scenarios, statistics, intriguing questions, silence, hopeful statement, an excerpt from a study, a problem, joke, shocking fact, anecdote, and a lot more.
Ready to learn more about the techniques I have shared above? Go ahead and read the rest of the article!
How to start a class speech?
There are several ways to start a class speech, and most of them are similar to how you open a speech given for a seminar or work. Check out the ones listed below.
When you start your speech with a quote, it also helps set the tone. This also gets the listeners' attention immediately, especially if you stated a controversial quote related to your topic. They would be excited about how you will relate the quote to your actual speech.
If you cannot find a great quote that talks about your topic, a verse will do. This gives your speech a flare of drama.
Sharing a specific scenario and asking your audience to imagine they are a part of it is a great way to encourage them to listen to you. They'll feel involved, and their minds will start working.
What if scenario
Similar to the imaginary scenario, stating what-if questions can help your audience follow your thought process for the speech. They are given an alternative reality to picture in their heads which will not only draw their attention but intrigue them as well.
You can use statistics in two ways— either share figures from something you read or share a personalized statistic involving your listeners. For instance, if you read somewhere that 70% of public speakers are anxious, it may be worth mentioning. But you can also say, "I bet 80% of the people in this are admittedly afraid of public speaking, while the 20% are faking it."
By using statistics or leveraging infographics, you are appealing to their emotions and, at the same time, conveying your message right away.
Remember when your teacher suddenly falls silent in front of your class because she wants to get your attention, you can actually do that to start your speech. When you stand in front, pause for two to ten seconds and wait until your audience is 100% paying attention to you.
Another way to harness the attention of your listeners is by posing an intriguing question. This question can really be answerable or rhetorical. This technique works well because the audience feels involved from the beginning, and it helps them build rapport with you.
If you are delivering a persuasive speech, starting with a hopeful statement can work effectively. Since the ultimate purpose of speeches is to inform and call people to action, a hopeful statement can make the audience think that your speech is super positive and that they would go home inspired to do something.
Quote from a recent study
We're not done with quotes yet! If earlier I said you can quote a famous person or share a verse at the beginning of your speech, you can also share a quote from a recent study. This means that you need to find a study that supports your claim and report the findings or even a conclusion in a brief manner.
You also have the option to start your speech with a problem that needs to be solved. Again, if this problem involves everyone, you can get maximum attention from your audience and make them more participative. Since your audience are your fellow students, expect that they would really participate and share their opinions since your teacher is watching.
If the subject of your speech is not that controversial or sensitive, then, by all means, use a joke in the intro. This especially works if humor is really your forté. By using a joke, you are putting the spotlight on yourself. Those audiences that couldn't care less about your speech will surely pay attention to hearing the laughter of others. After all, who doesn't want a good laugh?
If you want to wow your audience, sharing a shocking fact as you start your speech is the way to go. This works well, especially since your audience is young. Do your best to research something about your topic that is really out of the ordinary. Again, this is useful to get the attention of your audience. Just make sure that the fact you'll share is really a fact.
People love listening to stories, so if you can share an anecdote, that would really encourage them to listen to you. Anecdotes make your audience imagine. It also makes you more interesting because you know something they don't.
Sharing a story doesn't mean that you'll rack your brain searching for a memory that happened to you. You can share someone else's story. If you can even share something that happened to your classmate that won't humiliate the person, then go use it. Just make sure you ask permission.
I know it sounds weird, but you can begin with the end. What I mean is that, your intro should already mention one key piece of information that can be the takeaway for the audience later on. This way, they'll be more interested in what you are going to say since they'll be intrigued as to how you came up with that conclusion.
Unlike a shocking fact, a powerful statement is less dramatic, but the impact is equally strong. This may be a phrase or a sentence that will keep your audience waiting for what you are going to say next. For instance, saying, "We are all doomed," and pausing for a bit will make your audience intrigued.
Strong statement + question
Opening with a strong statement and then following up with a question can really hold your audience's attention. One good example is this, "90% of this class would rather be on their phones rather than listening to me right now. Are you one of the 90%?"
Refer to historical events
There are a lot of historical events that can be referenced in your speech. You can actually open your speech with a story about this and let your audience travel in the past. As established earlier, letting your audience imagine what you describe is a great way to pull their attention to you and, at the same time, get their brain working. You'll also get some plus points from your teacher because it will prove that your speech is well-researched.
Refer to current events
If you cannot find a story in history that relates to your speech, then relate it to a current event. If you are using a presentation slide, show a screenshot of a news article that states something regarding your topic. But for more impact, grab a copy of the newspaper and read from there. This will rivet the audience's attention to you because they'll see that what you are saying is timely and relevant.
Refer to pop culture
Since your audience is young and the same age as you, pop culture references would surely excite them! If you think quotes and verses are too formal for your topic, then share something about the entertainment industry or lyrics from a song everyone knows. This will make your speech more relatable and not dull. You can also throw in a few jokes. Trust me; the combination would be hilarious! (But of course, don't do this if the speech is formal.)
Refer to a recent conversation
If possible, you can open your speech with a conversation you had with someone recently. Say you bumped with a former teacher before the speech started. You can say something like, "I bumped into Ms. Camp a while ago, and she said she's alarmed by the increasing rate of high school dropouts in this area." Of course, make sure that what you'll say is relevant to your speech. This works for impromptu speeches where there is less structure, and you can change your speech at any time.
Share something about yourself
Sharing something about yourself, be it a story or a fun fact, can really catch the attention of your classmates. They would be invested because they'll hear something that they do not know about you, or perhaps, you'll share something that everyone knows, and you are admitting that it's true. This makes the speech more fun and interesting.
Should you say your name when opening a speech?
Often, there is no need to state your name when opening a speech unless, of course, it is required or you weren't introduced. When delivering a speech in class, your audience is most probably your classmates and your teacher. They know you pretty well, and stating your name would just feel like it's the first day of school.
For speeches delivered in seminars or other events, there is really no need to state your name because the host will do it for you. Oftentimes, they would ask for your credentials beforehand and would even read them to your audience to establish who you are.
What to avoid in the introduction
Now that you are already familiar with how you can open your speech in class, you should also know what to avoid. Don't worry, there are only three, so you won't have difficulty remembering them!
This should be avoided not only for class speech but in other types of speeches as well. Never say too many niceties at the beginning, like saying the following:
- What a wonderful audience I see right now.
- What an honor it is to stand in front of you.
These niceties would only make you appear boring in front of your audience.
Never ever start a speech saying how nervous you are. Come on! You know that when the audience feels you are nervous, it makes them uneasy. What more if you state it directly. Since they know you are nervous, they would mentally wait for you to commit a mistake.
Some of these nervous statements you should avoid are the following:
- I am not really good at speaking.
- Goodness, I'm so nervous.
- Wow! I can't believe you are really waiting for what I got to say.
Checking technical equipment
Do a tech check before you start your speech, so you don't open with "Is this microphone working?", "Why isn't my slide appearing?", or "Can you hear me at the back."
This is a sign of unpreparedness, and you don't want the audience to see that.
How do you greet a classroom speech?
If your speech requires a greeting, do it in the most formal and shortest way possible. You can say, "Good morning/afternoon to my classmates and teachers gathered here. I want to take this opportunity to share something about _____." Again, don't make it too long as it will bore your audience.
How do you start a speech without saying good morning?
The introduction of your speech is a sort of "promise" to the audience that the rest of what you are going to say is informative and valuable. You should skip saying good morning and employ some techniques like beginning with a quote, intriguing question, what if scenario, strong statement, a joke, statistics, anecdote, shocking fact, or a reference to a historical event, current event, or pop culture.
Holding the attention of your audience, especially of your classmates, can be really difficult when delivering a speech. Some would even try to distract you. But ensuring that you start strong can really make an impact, not only on the attention of your audience but also on your confidence in delivering the rest of the speech.
Do employ the techniques I shared above to wow your audience! Choose which one you think will really work for you and practice.
For more resources to develop your speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, please check the articles Online Resources for Public Speaking and Where Can I Learn Public Speaking. If you would like to leverage the best presentation software for your next big speaking engagement, please read the article 'Best Presentation Technology tools'.