Monday, May 13, 2019

How to Craft an Introduction for Your Speaking Engagement, Part 2

by Yvonne Ortega @YvonneOrtega1

In case you did not read How to Craft an Introduction for Your Speaking Engagement, Part 1, here are the main points from it: 
  • Begin with a bang.
  • Avoid “unpleasant pleasantries.”
  • Don’t open with a joke. 

Now, let’s go on to Part 2. 
In Part 2, you will pick up the five ways you can use to begin with a bang.  

If you begin with a bang, you will capture your audience’s attention. If you don’t, you may lose their attention. And it’s difficult to win them back. 

You can begin with a bang in one of five ways. 
1. First, go straight into a story. 
Audiences respond to a story. I opened a presentation for a cancer group with a story about the day I received my diagnosis of breast cancer over the telephone. You can see clips of that presentation on my website,

2. Second, ask a powerful question. 
Don’t ask a question that requires a simple yes or no answer. Use an open-ended question that begins with how, what, when, or where. That will make the audience think. 
In the past when I spoke on grief, I started with the question, “What would you say to a grieving person to offer comfort rather than add more anguish?”

3. Third, make a startling statement that jolts the audience. 
You will capture your audience’s attention with that approach. My startling statement at a speakers conference was “God, I’m not going into Christian ministry. Most Christians expect me to speak for nothing.”

4. Fourth, say nothing at all for a few seconds as you look around the room. This is the silent scan. 
When you use the silent scan, you take command of the room, and the audience stops talking. I spoke on domestic violence at a single parents’ conference. I stood at the front of the room, said nothing for a few seconds, and scanned the audience. They settled down immediately. 

5. The fifth way is to start with a brief activity. 
I don’t recommend an activity since you haven’t established rapport with the audience yet. However, if you do use a brief activity, combine it with a story, a powerful question, or a startling statement. That will make it easier to engage the audience. 
When I spoke at a half-day women’s conference, I presented a case study in my second talk. Then I had the women break into groups of three or four to analyze the case and come up with a solution.

How can you open your next presentation? What story, powerful question, or startling statement can you use to capture the audience’s attention? Perhaps you would like to start with the silent scan.

Test “the bang” on your friends. If it doesn’t spark their interest, work on it until it does. 

The bang comprises only part of the opening. In Part 3, you will receive the second and third parts of the opening. 


Yvonne Ortega speaks with honesty and humor as she shares her life and struggles through presentations that help women find comfort, peace, and purpose. Her background as a licensed professional counselor gives her a unique perspective into the heart of women. Her counseling experiences in jails, prisons, and outpatient services add depth and humor to her presentations, as do her years of teaching mostly high school and college Spanish. Her presentations are interactive and down-to- earth with application for the audience from God’s Word and his promises. 

Yvonne is also a speaking and writing coach and the owner of Moving from Broken to Beautiful®, LLC. She is the author of four books: Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, and Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief

Yvonne is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), the Christian Authors Network (CAN), the National Speakers Association (NSA), and Toastmasters International. 


  1. Thanks Yvonne for the help with presentations. Applying them to high school career day - convincing them Insurance is a good field. Lol

  2. Excellent tips, Yvonne! Thank you for sharing these. Many graces on your ministry, Jen

  3. Thank you so much for the great tips. I will be giving a message at church in June and this is very helpful. :-)