Unexpectedly Fresh.

We’ve all heard the adage, It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

That’s not quite true when it comes to giving a speech, talk or presentation. How you begin matters. It sets the tone. So start fresh by grabbing the audience’s attention.

One way to do so? Use the unexpected.

What is an example of the unexpected? Try using a startling statistic. It can be a great way to grab your audience’s attention, and keep them engaged.

An example of a startling statistic? Say you’re a health care professional giving a talk at a workshop to parents of infants about the importance of vaccinations. You could lead your talk with the fact that Libya, Russia and Iran are among the 113 countries around the world with higher immunization rates for 1-year-olds than the USA.

That would certainly grab attention. Americans are used to being # 1 in all the positive things that we do. So we are likely to listen carefully to understand why so many other countries are outperforming us.

That’s one example of using the unexpected. Here’s another: Use an original and unexpected story or anecdote to spark instant interest.

How likely would it be to read about a cycle instructor admitting to once walking out of a cycle class? Not very likely.

Exactly. That’s the point.

What would your audience be surprised to learn about you? In my case, walking out of a cycle class–the very class that has inspired such passion in me as both instructor and student–piques my students’ interest enough to want to learn how I traveled from “walking out of the class” to “teaching the class.”

Audiences love the unexpected–that one thing that they did not see coming. Piquing their attention from the start encourages them to stay with you as you speak. And just where are you leading them? They’ll have to keep listening to learn more!

The takeaway before you breakaway: Scrap the stuffy introduction. Begin your talk in a way that will leave your audience wanting more. Start fresh. Use the unexpected.

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