Four classic ways to start a speech

If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you have to add value. You have to give them a reason to listen to your message. In other words: tell them what’s in it for them. There are four classic ways to start a speech, and the same four ways can be used to start a conversation (and writing the title of a paper or book) These are:

  • Tell them the benefit – what they will get from it. This is how most sales pitches work. For example: “This will get you more customers.”
  • The question – to make them think. For example: “Would you like to get more customers?”
  • The shock – their call to action. Say: “If we don’t get more customers, we’re out of business.”
  • The story – to engage them. Stories work particularly well to illustrate an example. So rather than going straight in with a hard pitch, you could tell a story about how your product helped another customer with a similar issue. Stories often sound better than a hard sell.


Kermode, R. (2016). Three ways to improve communication skills at work. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from


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