Sometimes what you say doesn’t matter as much as how you say it. It happened to me many times that I had a great opening line in mind, but when I said it, it wasn’t half as cool as I’d wanted it to be.
The biggest reason why our introductions don’t turn out as good is nervousness. As I already wrote, almost everyone feels nervous and this feeling is especially strong at the beginning of your speech – during the introduction.
In order to be able to perform your introduction well even in spite of the nervousness, you have to rehearse your opening lines well. I would advise to memorise the sentences by heart and maybe even the gestures you want to use. Try different postures and hand movements and decide which is the most natural. Once you’re on the stage, use these gestures even if you actually feel like crossing your hands (which is a natural reaction!). This will help you relax and actually seem more confident!
Delivering a good introduction
The 1st thing you should pay attention to is timing. Many people do the mistake of starting too early. When you come to the stage, don’t start speaking right away. Position yourself and then take a look at the audience first. Don’t be afraid of a half a second of silence. You can even smile a little or nod them if you find it appropriate. It is a way of acknowledging them and it will help you and the audience concentrate. And then, start.
2nd: Body language. This of course depends on what kind of an impression and opening you want to achieve, but what you in most cases want to do is seem open and confident. As shown on the photo, there are three basic things you have to cover to achieve this:
- look at the audience (not at your notes!)
- stand straight
- use open gestures
The 3rd aspect you want to pay attention to is your voice. Although it may be a little shaky due to nervousness, don’t let it stop you from speaking loud enough. You have to make sure that the audience can hear you because otherwise they will lose interest. How loud? The volume should depend on the size of the room and the number of people and exactly making eye contact with the audience while speaking will help you instinctively adjust your volume.
Make sure you get your introduction right because, remember: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” (Andrew Grant, writer)