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Looking for a Opening / Entry Idea for a Speech / Presentation.

Posted on 2008-10-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Dear All,

I am supposed to give a presentation / Speech, as an activity for Effective Communication.

The topic I've chosen is: Education and it's role in Success
The Theme is: Education is NOT Essential to Be Successful

As a guideline, I should pick a topic which is arguable and I believe the above topic is quite exciting. I guess I will be refining the topic and theme better to suit a niche context once i've built my presentation. (i.e - What type of education, Success or Achievement etc..)

I've been trying to figure out the best way to Start / Open the speech / presentation. The Entry should captivate the audience and keep them plugged in. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to start with a story, but I am not sure what story I should tell. Perhaps I should start in some other way?

The body would contain the shortcomings of education and how it limits thinking out of the box etc. It also would contain numerous examples like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Bradson etc.

The desired response is not to make the audience quit their education, but for them to realize that Experience and being street-smart is very important, Perhaps more important that having education itself.


Any Suggestions for a strong opening story? Or perhaps some other idea?
Any Suggestion for a strong closing?
Question by:shaf81
LVL 31

Accepted Solution

moorhouselondon earned 448 total points
ID: 22853768
Alan Solomon, who used to run Dr Solomon's anti virus software company, had a really good opening patter on the day I saw him give a seminar

"Hands up all of you here who have mice in their home"

(one or two hands were tentatively put skywards).

"Hands up those of you who think they might have mice in their home"

(a few hands)

"Hands up those who are worried they might have mice in their home"

(quite a few hands)

"And finally, who here is absolutely certain that they haven't got mice in their home"

(one or two tentative hands again)

He then very cleverly tied that into his pitch, which was the analogy between mice and viruses, and the uncertainty of whether or not you have a virus on your pc.

The point about this explanation is that very few people knew at the outset what this was about, until he got to the third "hands up".  The fact that I can remember that seminar for all of these years is testament to his skill at presentation.

Assisted Solution

masmus earned 224 total points
ID: 22853862
Hi shaf81,

To support the argument that you will make with your speech, I might suggest using a story about someone who is extremely successful but has no education. You could structure it so that you are talking about all the amazing things that this person has accomplished, and then at the end, you can surprise your audience with the statement "so and so has accomplished all this without an education." If you pick a successful and interesting enough person (I'm sure you can find one) then this could be a very interesting opening.

One thing that I can remember from my speech class in college is that a call to action works well for a closing. Now that your audience believes what you've argued, what is it that you want them to do about it? Do you want them to take their children out of school? Do you want them to go directly into working full time after high school instead of going to college? Tell them that that is what they should do and remind them the reason why: because education is not essential to being successful!

Best of luck,
LVL 31

Assisted Solution

rid earned 224 total points
ID: 22854306
One other thing to keep in mind is the concept of "education" isn't REALLY limited to what you're stuffed with in institutions, but that you receive education during the entire period between birth and death (it's called life). Especially on your job site(s). You learn from experience and from your workmates and from anyone you relate to in any way. Try to expand the notion of "education", perhaps?

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Author Comment

ID: 22855431
Hi Guys,

Very much value your ideas. I agree with moorhouse and masmus - I know i need some bang opening, perhaps like Solomons or a Story about a successful person - but what I'm unsure is, what to you. I don't wanna use the standard examples which everyone knows. I don't mind even to open using a fiction story, as long is would help to initiate the idea.

And as for the point of rid - I like that too. There is a Quote of Mark Twain  "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.", which clearly reveals that education is not just about what you learn in school. I would be using that too.

More ideas please? :)

LVL 31

Assisted Solution

moorhouselondon earned 448 total points
ID: 22855983
Play Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the Wall" over the PA while people are getting seated - but it depends which way you are going to get your points across.  

Another very effective way of making your presentation compelling is the idea of roping in someone/two people (Actors) to do a monologue/dialogue at the beginning, and at the end.  At the beginning questioning the ideas that you are going to be talking about, and at the end summarising what has been agreed.  You have to be good at this kind of approach though to make it work.  If it goes wrong then people will remember you for all the wrong reasons.  A substitute for this is to use a tape-recorded version, either video or audio.  People will think this is much more EnTeRtAinInG than any amount of Powerpoint
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:Nancy McCullough
Nancy McCullough earned 444 total points
ID: 22860211
This is something I've used in the past, and wow - it works!

Engage the audience with a fictional story that they know and could identify with - like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, or Alice in Wonderland. Change the story line just enough to make them listen, form a cliff hanger and leave the last part of the story for the end of the presentation.

LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:Nancy McCullough
Nancy McCullough earned 444 total points
ID: 22864455
I should further explain what I mean (always different in my head than it is when I post it - lol)

"Change the story line just enough to make them listen, form a cliff hanger and leave the last part of the story for the end of the presentation."

Example: (most of this text is taken from Wikipedia as a basis for which to illustrate what I mean)

A family of three bears (a mother, a father, and a cub) live in a quite civilized house in the woods. One day, waiting for their porridge to cool, they leave the house unlocked as they go for a walk in the woods. While they are out, Bill Gates comes to the house. Curious, he enters and meddles with the bears' belongings, sampling their computers (tinkering with the baby's), sitting at their desks (messing up the baby's), and then trying out their operating systems (falling in love with the baby's). Every member of the bear family has their own unique computer, desk, and operating system, which have unique characteristics: Mac, PC, and Linux. The exact adjectives differ from story to story, but generally the father and mother's computers are "too complicated" and "too slow" and their desks are "too short" and "too high", with the baby bear's computer, desk, and operating system being "just right". Bill Gates is still glued to the computer in the baby's office when the bears return home. They open the office door and depending on the decision of the story-teller, either cast him away as a homeless know-nothing idiot or scare him away. The moral of the story can differ as well; a general theme is that the privacy of others should be respected. In this case, it could be that education is not necessary to build a fast computer that makes the user happy by meeting their needs, wants and desires.

I hope that makes sense?


Assisted Solution

gozdekilinc earned 220 total points
ID: 24618515
you should start the speech our drems when we were kids and now what are we doing for living and link this with education make us forget our dreams because of the conditions and you can start your topic..Maybe this is not exciting for you but I always start my presentations from daily lives not to make people bored also to have their attention it works everytime no one gets bored in my presentations good luck..

Assisted Solution

Jack020800 earned 220 total points
ID: 24811859
Thinking about the normal human being tendancy, people love stories.
The best way to start any speech is to start with any moral/managerial kind of story or start with the current even occured in relation to your subject of speech.

Assisted Solution

jimmy1223 earned 220 total points
ID: 25639135
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mary Kay, Rachel Ray, Michael Dell - look any of their stories up.  

I did something very similar to this project.  I began by describing a snip of each of these people's beginning and around the point of them dropping out of school.

"A 19 yr old college dropout, with $1,000 to his name, opened a computer business called PC's unlimited.  (Michael Dell).  A dropout after just one semester, a young man took a spiritual trip to India, experimented with LSD and later became one of the most influential men in the computer industry (Steve Jobs)."

Several little bit like that to open up the speech.  

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