There are many ways to get the attention of an audience by planning your opening carefully.
Each speaker must decide which opening will be his best mental hook for the speech he has planned to deliver and for the audience that will hear it.
Commenting favorably on a local situation, talking about something in which the audience is already deeply interested, or telling a harmless joke on a popular local person (the chairman, perhaps), will also get attention.
Attention must be favorable. A speaker could get undivided attention by literally throwing rotten apples at an audience. But this beginning would not get favorable attention for the speaker. It is never necessary to be ridiculous or melodramatic to get attention and hold it. If a speaker, however, must lean in either the direction of sensationalism or dull, stiff formalism he will be more’ interesting if he favors the former.
Attention comes and goes somewhat like waves on the ocean. A highly able speaker keeps it coming all the time.
Psychologist, William James said, “What holds attention determines action.”
Holding attention may not always assure desired action at the completion of a speech, but one conclusion is certain: without having attention a speaker cannot reasonably hope to get any type of desired action or decision.
A speaker can be reasonably sure that an effective human interest illustration will hold attention at any point in a speech. Therefore, knowing how to recognize and use such illustrations should help a person speak more effectively.
Have you got any favorite ways to get and keep the attention of your audience?