Assignment 1: REVIEWING TECHNIQUES FOR BEGINNING A SPEECH
Thinking back to the Tent Icon that we mentioned earlier, you will remember that the tent starts with a high mast, follows with four or five main points and then closes with an even higher mast. A speech needs to grab the audience quickly, maintain attention by giving a series of rich and textured points, then closing even higher with a summary or story. Here are a series of ideas for opening a speech that were shared earlier. They are repeated here for emphasis. They are tools you will want in your tool box when you stand up to present a speech. They will bring an audience to you almost every time. I encourage you to use them regularly in every speech you are privileged to give.
When it comes to getting the audience’s attention early, there are at least ten good techniques for helping that happen. Let me explain these one at a time then give you an example of each.
You are to complete this assignment by giving an example as well. Come up with an example of each and send me your examples as the answer to this assignment.
CLOSURE: In this technique for getting audience attention, you start your speech by reciting a familiar line or poem and letting the audience finish it. Any time the audience can close your quote, you have their attention.
For example, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick; Jack jumped over __________ ______________.
Not one of us said “his spotted Dalmatian.” We know that Jack jumped over “the candlestick.” Just to make sure you got it, start a quote or short poem of your own, making sure it is something familiar to the audience.
QUESTION: This technique has long been used to let the members of the audience turn suddenly to their own thoughts as to what they might say if called on to answer aloud. Ideally the question should be fresh and land on what people in the audience might wish for. You want to avoid overly used questions such as the one I mentioned in a previous Module, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” Many people are honestly turned off by that question; they have heard it too often with no good luck.
For example, “If I could give you five days and a pocket full of cash and tell you to go anywhere in the world for that week, where would you go and why?” That is a fresh question that we have likely not heard before.
STARTLING STATEMENT.: This technique gets attention by surprise. You want to be careful not to shock or anger the audience, but a good startling opening can draw an audience in.
For example, a student in one class began her speech on cancer with these words, “In this class of 24 students, statistics tell us that four or five of us will have some form of cancer during our lifetimes.” The statement caused all of us to glance around and sense the pain of a small group of us struggling later in life with this dreaded disease.
CLASSIC LINE FROM LITERATURE: This method taps the familiar. We share many bits of information in common with others. Any time you as a speaker can show an audience that you and they share common knowledge, they are drawn to you. For example, if I say, “Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again,” most people will easily remember that childhood ditty. And we smile and share a common thought.
Offer a classic childhood piece to see if I connect with you. What do you think you and I would know in common?
HISTORICAL QUOTE: This technique can be used with a more educated group who would enjoy hearing a line from John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or Maya Angelou. To use it indicates that you have a knowledge of history and realize that many great things have been stated in the past. For example, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt stood in the well of the senate on the following day and said, “December 7th is a day that will live in infamy.” Most of us remember the line. It is a surefire way to gain attention for most Americans.
I share these to reinforce the idea that you need to be connected with the audience really early in the speech, within 30-60 seconds, if you plan to have them with you. These approaches to a good attention-getting opening have been reliable for centuries and I am sure they will give you the audience’s attention as well.
Assignment 2: RATING A FEW BEGINNINGS ON THE WEB
For this exercise, you are to turn to speeches on YouTube and evaluate how well some of the speaker there do when it comes to getting off to a strong start. This will also give you a sense of how various people prefer to start a speech. You are to focus on their first sentences; what they use to get the audience’s attention.
You do not have to send the URL for the speeches you listen to, but do send a short summary of how well they did with their opening. Did they get your attention? Was it a rather average beginning without much pop? What made you feel that way? Watch the openings of at least five speeches—only the openings—and offer your evaluation below. If you will, at least provide the title of the speech and the speaker you are critiquing if the website gave that information.
You only need to watch five minutes of whatever speech you choose. If you choose something of personal interest to you, you may go longer if you want. But the first five minutes will help you complete this assignment.
Assignment 3: REMEMBERING THE TIPS ON THE INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, Dr. Lucas offers five crucial tips for giving an attention-getting introduction. I wish I could circle them in red and highlight them in yellow. They are vital. For this assignment, please literally restate these by typing them in yourself. Just the first sentence of each one will do. But having done hundreds of speeches myself, I can tell you that these five need to be in your memory as permanently as possible. You will use them every single time you stand before a group.
Assignment 4: CLOSING THE SPEECH
At the end of the chapter, the author deals with conclusions. For this exercise, please write two sentences for each of the following statements as a way of summing up the content of these great guidelines. They follow the flow of the final section of the chapter. Share your summaries on each of these five and what they mean with me.
SIGNAL THE END OF THE SPEECH:
REINFORCE THE CENTRAL IDEA:
SUMMARIZE YOUR SPEECH
END WITH A QUOTATION
MAKE A DRAMATIC STATEMENT
REFER TO THE INTRODUCTION
Assignment 5: GRABBING THE BIG IDEA
By far the biggest idea in this chapter is the importance of relating your speech topic to the audience in front of you. It is the same as finding common ground that we discussed earlier. But allow me a second hearing because of its benefit to every speech you share. Put in question form, it runs, “How does my topic relate to this particular audience?” And the follow-up question is a close second, “What can I say that will show that relationship?”
For example, if you were talking to a group of twenty year old college students on the topic of managing finances, one topic that is almost a given for them would be the cost of their education. If they do not receive a full ride to college, they have to find ways to fund the rather expensive venture we call education. Therefore, to start a speech on finances with references to the costs of college would no doubt draw their attention immediately.
For the following topics, let’s stay with twenty year old college students. For each of the topics, state how you might get started on a speech so that the college students connect with you right away. If we fail to show an audience how our topic relates to them, we may as well be talking to the wall. Place a couple of sentences after each of these topics to help me see how you would connect this topic with a coed class of college students.
DANGERS OF FACEBOOK
I heard one man say, “That person had a pretty decent speech, but he didn’t know how to close it.” What do you think contributes to difficulty in closing a speech? Gosh, all of us have heard it, a person who gave a good presentation, but didn’t have a good way to “land it.” They kept circling the airport looking for a way to get the wheels on the runway.
What causes this? What may be happening if a person does a poor job of closing out a speech? Offer your thoughts on what may be going on when that happens.
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