Question #27: What is a speech opening line to avoid?
A great presentation is like a good airplane trip. You need a smooth takeoff, safe flight, and a smooth landing. Many speeches never get off the ground because of a weak intro. Here is a presentation line that can drastically hurt your speech.
The Apology / Excuse
“Avoid starting your speech with an apology or excuse.” Several mentors have given me this public speaking tip. Here are a few examples of how not to start a speech.
Sorry, I am not more prepared.
Last night John called me and asked if I could fill in for him.
It’s been a busy week, but we’ll try to manage and get through this.
My power point crashed so it will not look like I want it to.
These lines can deflate our speech and hinder take off. Why do we start with an apology? It may be because we want the audience to feel sorry for us and give us a pass if we don’t do well. However, we want the audience anticipating our message, and confidently trusting in us as a speaker–not feeling sorry for us.
You want them to have confidence in you that you are going to deliver a speech that brings value to them.
Take out the apology/excuse completely.
If you are unprepared, don’t tell them. They’ll figure it out–maybe. Many times if you do a good job with delivering they’ll never know that you received a notice to speak 30 minutes ahead of time.
Replace apology with explanation–if you must. One time I had car trouble and was 10 minutes late to a speaking engagement. It was clear I was late and everyone was wondering why. I started off by sharing the car trouble story briefly.Then I apologized and launched into the presentation. If I had not explained this situation, everyone would have been wondering “why” throughout the entire presentation. My speech may have never gotten off the ground.
There are many good ways to open a speech. An apology is usually not one of them.