It’s that horrible moment. You’ve just been called to stage, your audience is silent, waiting for you to open your mouth and now it’s your turn. But what do you say? How do you start a speech with power and confidence, rather than the usual “Erm… thanks very much for inviting me here…”

The simple truth is… your audience will judge you from the moment you start your speech. It may sound harsh but it’s very true. So it’s a good idea to start your speech with certainty and confidence, to quickly build a connection with the audience so they are eager to hear what you have to say next.
There are many different ways to start your speech but it’s not just about the words you use. Creating a strong first impression is about more than your opening lines.  

  1. Prepare to be yourself! 
  2. First words count
  3. Telling your story
  4. Trying different approaches
  5. Reconnecting with yourself

1. Starting a speech: Prepare to be yourself! 

Before you start to write your speech, think about your natural style and how you want people to feel. Give yourself time to consider:

  • What qualities would you like to display as a speaker?
  • What benefit would you like to give to your audience?

This will help you choose an authentic way to start your speech and will guide the rest of your talk in a direction that stays true to your individual personality and purpose. But that doesn’t mean playing it safe and being predictable. You can step out of your comfort zone – in fact, we positively encourage our speakers to be fearless – but that’s about stretching your true self rather than trying to be someone you’re not.

2. Starting a speech: First words count

And now onto what you’re going to say. First off, avoid starting a speech with lines like:

  • Thank you so much, it’s a pleasure to be here
  • I’m sorry, this isn’t going to take very long
  • I was only asked last week/yesterday/10 minutes ago to do this speech
  • A funny thing happened to me whilst trying to find the venue…
  • Thanks for coming


This is your moment to shine, so shine from the get-go. To start a speech with power, find something unique, engaging and memorable to say. And make sure it’s a line that you’re 100% comfortable with, so your talk flies rather than sags from the beginning.

Here are some ideas from some of our favourite speech beginnings:

You might start your speech with a provocative question –

  • “How do you explain why some people are able to achieve things that seem impossible?” – Simon Sinek, TEDx Talk
  • “What do I know that would cause me, a reticent, Midwestern scientist, to get myself arrested in front of the White House protesting? And what would you do if you knew what I know?” – James Hansen, TED Talk

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