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Speech Introduction

 
  
 
SPEECH  INTRODUCTION Learning Objective: Recognize the elements specific to the  introductory  part  of  a  speech. An  effective  speech  introduction  should  arouse  the interest of the audience (attention step), summarize in one simple sentence what will be covered in the talk (limited objective) and give the audience a good reason to listen to that limited objective (motivation). Strive to keep  this  part  of  the  talk  short,  meaningful  and interesting. ATTENTION STEP The speaker who believes that he will not have difficulties maintaining the audience’s interest is relying on the hope that he is a novelty and that people are breathlessly awaiting his words. It is true that, for the first few seconds, the speaker is a novelty, and the audience  will  be  interested  in  looking  him  over. However, it is the next few seconds that count, since within this time the frost words are spoken and they must really  capture  the  audience’s  attention.  The  two  criteria for selecting material for your attention step are as follows: . Make sure your attention step is directly related to your subject. . Make sure your attention step is not so bizarre that it detracts from the rest of your talk. Outside of these considerations, the only limiting factor for an attention step is the imagination of the speaker.  The  following  techniques  should  give  you  an idea of the many ways to begin a talk. Interesting Illustration Actual  incidents  from  real  life,  stories  from literature  and  hypothetical  illustrations  may  be  used  as attention steps. When used effectively, the story opening has great appeal and is almost guaranteed to arouse and maintain  the  audience’s  attention.  For  example: “During the Second World War, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King was asked by a group of newsmen just what the U.S. Navy’s public relations policy was.  Admiral  King  replied:  ‘Do  not  tell  them anything. When it is over, tell them who won.’ (He had a point and I wonder what Ernie King would say had he heard Secretary this morning. I am sure many of us might sigh with relief if this policy were current. But as you know it is not. Even in the framework of war, such a negative policy is not in tune with today’s climate. . . .)” Quotation A  quotation  that  leads  directly  to  the  subject frequently can establish immediate attention. An excerpt from a speech made by Rear Adm. Brent Baker, the former Chief of Information, is used here as an example: “Recently, I received and read the 1990 Navy women’s  study  group  report.  Rear  Admiral  Bobby Hazard, in her forwarding letter to me, said: ‘I hope this  report  will  enable  greater  understanding  of  the perceptions of Navy women and men and stimulate even  more  specific  actions  to  improve  the assimilation of women at every level of commands.’ (Let  me  underscore  the  word  perceptions,  because the  world  of  public  opinion  or  perceptions  is  one  I work for every day. . . .)” Humor All of us like to laugh at a colorful anecdote. If you can relate a humorous story, do so, but make sure you choose it wisely for its relation to the presentation. A funny story may be hilarious in itself; but unless it focuses attention on the subject, it is of little value. Make your humor relate to your subject. For example: “The title of this speech, ‘Public Affairs and Command,’ reminds me of what happened to a rear admiral years ago when his flag was aboard the USS Long Beach, which was finishing a tour on-the-line off Vietnam. Long Beach was ordered to Sydney, Australia, for four days of R&R. You may recall the incident as  Long Beach was about to depart Sydney, when  a  good-looking  blonde  got  aboard,  spent  the night and apparently was about to stowaway when she  was  discovered  hiding  under  a  bunk  in  the admiral’s  quarters.  This  incident  made  headlines  in Australia. And the next day, a similar story made the front  pages  of  the  Los  Angeles  newspapers  with  the caption  reading:   ‘BLONDE   FOUND   UNDER ADMIRAL’S   BED   ABOARD   USS   L O N G BEACH.’ Since the admiral’s family lived in nearby Long Beach, he tells me the event caused quite an eye-opener that morning at his house. Especially since  his  wife  and  daughters  did  not  know  the admiral had unexpectedly transferred his flag from Long Beach before its arrival in Australia. Imagine being suspect of such a happening and receiving no benefit because one was not even there. He has since told me, ‘I am not sure whether I was lucky on that 6-7


   


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