When Starting A Speech, It’s All About Nesting

Nesting is the best way to start your next speech
Nesting is the best way to start your next speech
Image Credit: Kirsten Pauli

During what part of your speech do you have the most power? A lot of speakers would say that it’s the last few minutes of their speech because if they’ve done their job then thanks to the importance of public speaking they now have the audience’s attention and what they say will be remembered after the speech is over. However, they’d be wrong. It turns out that your “moment of power” occurs at the start of your speech. In fact, it happens just before you start your speech.

The Start Of Your Speech

One of the biggest challenges that we all face as a speaker is trying to hold on to our audience’s attention. We are living in an era where everyone has a cell phone that is always demanding our attention. If you can’t capture a member of your audience’s attention, then they have plenty of other things to spend their time doing (angry birds anyone? )

What this means for you as a speaker is that you are in competition every time that you give a speech. Competition with every phone in the room. Competition with the person sitting next to someone and competition with whatever someone would like to be day dreaming about. It is your responsibility to capture and hold your audience’s attention.

Interestingly enough there is one thing that you don’t want to do at the start of your next speech. That thing is talk. That’s right – you heard me correctly, you don’t want to talk at the start of your next speech. We all practice the speech that we want to give and with a little luck we’ve created what we believe to be a killer opening. Perhaps we have a question that we’ll ask that will make everyone think, or we have a story that is sure to grab attention. No matter what opening we plan on using, don’t – there’s something better that you can do at the start of your speech.

How Make Nesting Work For You

So let’s spend a moment thinking about how your next speech is probably going to start out. Whomever is running the show will get on stage and tell the audience that you’re coming next. With a little luck they’ll do a great job of introducing you. Next, you’ll walk on stage, perhaps you’ll go over to a lectern. It is at this point in time that your speaking power is at its greatest.

What we all too often fail to understand is that in the moments just before we begin to speak, we really do have the attention of the entire room. Nobody knows what we are going to be saying and nobody knows if we’re going to be any good at saying it. What this means is that for this one special moment, everyone puts their phones away, turns away from their neighbor and shuts up. This magic moment is going to last until you finally open your mouth and talk.

You need to make the most of this time – we call it “nesting time”. Stretch it out. Make it last. Do not rush to start talking. Instead, use this time to build some anticipation of your speech. You can do this by placing your notes on the lectern. If you have reading glasses, you can take them out and put them on. Perhaps you’ll adjust your microphone and even take a deep breath or two. Then you can begin to speak. Do be careful to not make you “nesting” time take too long. Three seconds is just fine, ten seconds might be too long.

What All Of This Means For You

As public speakers the one thing that we all want to be able to do is to capture and hold on to our audience’s attention so that we can share with them the benefits of public speaking. The challenge that we are facing is that there are a number of different things that our audience could be doing including playing with their phone and talking to the person sitting next to them. We need to understand that our greatest moment of power happens at the start of our speech and we need to find ways to use it.

When we give a speech, we need to understand that we are in competition for our audience’s attention. There are a number of different things that they could be spending their time doing / playing with. What we need to realize is that when we take the stage, the first thing that we will want to do will not be to start to talk. Instead, we’ll want to take the moment of silence between when we are introduced and when we start to speak and stretch it out. During this time we’ll have everyone’s attention and we’ll want to make the most of it. We can arrange papers, put on glasses, and drink water as we prepare to begin to speak. This will build our audience’s anticipation and will focus their attention on us.

Making the most of the start of a speech is the right way to begin your next speech. There is a precious moment just before you start to speak where you’ll have the attention of everyone in the room. You need to seize this moment and make the most of it by “nesting”. If you can get good at doing this then you’ll be able to start your speech with everyone’s attention and that means that you may be able to hold on to it during your speech also.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think a “nesting” time period can extend for?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we think about what it takes to be an accomplished public speaker, often times we picture ourselves as being a pillar of the community as we share with our audience the importance of public speaking. We have valuable information that we’d like to share with a group of people who are eager to hear what we have to say. However, this is not always the case. There are a number of very special circumstances where perhaps the very opposite is what is called for. In these cases, it’s time for us to show our audience what an accomplished liar we can be.

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