Introductions

Snagging Attention,
Shaking Hands
and other Ways to Get People to at Least Begin to Listen You.
By. Mike Baron

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
- Plato, The Republic

In the world of storytelling, music, film, research, performance and rhetoric (among others) the introduction is a property that can’t not be simply set aside. The introduction is the place where you must simultaneously explain where you and the audience are going and why the audience wants to come along. Think of every speech you give as a journey.

Q: Think of “good introductions.” Why are they good?

Non-Rhetoric Examples…
- The early work of Bruce Springsteen, namely “Jungleland”
- The brilliant cold opens of The Office
- Woody Allen’s beginning to Annie Hall
- Opening to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

BUT, how do we do this within the world of Public Speaking?

The “Basic Three” Format
1. Attention Getter
2. Ethos
3. Thesis

1.) THE ATTENTION GETTER
- This is where your creativity can shine and you have the chance to convince the audience you’re worth listening to, even if your topic unavoidably uninteresting.
- Grab attention and interest in your TONE OF VOICE
- Startle your audience with information.
- Quote
- Question
- Tease – arouse a curiosity
- Tell a Story or Tell a Joke
- Depending on your topic…add statistics, but be concise and to the point.
- Cleverly, and sometimes subtly, introduce the theme
2.) ETHOS
- One of Aristotle’s Three Modes of Persuasion
- To establish credibility in the speaker
- Can even be a simple moral competence for the subject
- If anything, show the audience you care about the topic and thus can be trusted with knowledge
3.) THESIS
- “That which is to be proven or maintained.”
- Reveal the Topic
- Preview the Body
- Now the stage should be set, now take center stage.

Above be creative, be creative, be creative.

You could be making a speech on a topic that has been done many times, even with information that you haven’t personally collected, but your Introduction should be your own.

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