When you start a speech, you know that the first few words that come out of your mouth have to be interesting to your audience. However, I’m going to take that thought one step further – your first words have to “hook” your audience’s interest. What you say has to catch them off guard, has to intrigue them, has to make them want to hear more. This isn’t easy to do, but I’m going to show you how…
Just What Is A Hook?
In the world of advertising, a “hook” is what grabs an audience’s attention and holds it. Each year in the U.S. the Superbowl football game sells its TV advertising spots for millions of dollars and each advertiser desperately tries to come up with a “hook” that will cause the audience to remember what they are trying to sell.
One key point that too many Superbowl advertisers overlook (and speakers too!) is that the device that you use to grab your audience’s attention needs to be tied back to the main message. Otherwise you’ll just be grabbing attention and not accomplishing anything.
This leads to the question: just what is a hook? A hook can be anything that a speaker uses to grab an audience’s attention. There are lots of different ways to do this: startling statistics, funny stories, or even a clever phrase will do the trick.
Giving a speech is hard work. A hook can make it easier. When you take the time to create a hook to use with your next speech, you will receive many benefits. These include having the ability to seize and hold on to your audience’s attention. You’ll boost the chances that your main message will be both heard and understood by the audience. Finally, a good hook makes what you say that much more memorable.
Kinds Of Hooks That You Can Use
Once you’ve decided to start your next speech with a hook, the question that you’re going to have to answer is what kind of hook do you want to use? The good news is that there are plenty to choose from.
One of the best hooks that a speaker can use is a personal story. A note of caution here: the story that you decide to tell must have a link to the main point of your speech.
The reason that a personal story works so well as a hook to draw your audience in is because your audience will be able to relate to it. Stories are how we communicate and so they are what your audience will be able to easily remember long after you are done talking.
Another type of hook that a speaker can use is a prop. A prop is simply any sort of visual aid. Since the art of speaking is all about using words to communicate your message, when all of a sudden you show your audience a tangible, physical object it will grab and hold their attention.
Using a prop that relates to the message that you are trying to get across can anchor your message in your audience’s head. During one speech that I was giving to employees of a wireless company, I used their own “mobile driving safety” brochure as a prop to show them that they weren’t following their own rules before I launched into a speech on how to better manage their teams.
Finally, providing your audience with statistics that are unusual or surprising is another way to hook them The reason that this works is that it provides your audience with a way for them to get their hands around what could otherwise be a boring concept.
An example of this would be if you were talking about how we can improve our relationships with our spouses. The American Animal Hospital Association did a survey that revealed that 78% of pet owners admitted to greeting their pet at the door before saying hello to their spouse or significant other. That kind of statistic would not be expected by your audience and would “hook” them to listen to what you said next.
What All Of This Means For You
In order to be an effective speaker you need to not only find a way to capture your audience’s attention, but you also have to find a way to hold it throughout your speech. It turns out that one of the best ways to go about doing this is to work a “hook” into the opening of your speech.
The true power of a hook is that by grabbing your audience’s emotions you will be able to make it easier for them to both understand and remember the message that is contained in your speech. A good hook has the ability to cut through all of the clutter that we all encounter each day and make your speech memorable.
Coming up with a good hook for your next speech is going to take some time and effort. The good news is that the time that you spend doing this will be richly rewarded by the rapt attention that you get from your audience and the complements that you receive from them when you are done talking!
Question For You: Do you think that you should only use one hook or can you use multiple hooks at different points in your speech?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
So how do you get ready to deliver a speech? Write out your words? Create some PowerPoint slides? It turns out that there’s one very important thing that you may have been missing – taking control of the room that you’ll be speaking in…