The Last, the First, the Most

A startling opening statement is an excellent way to captivate the audience.  One way to find such statements is to look for the last of an era, or the first that was accomplished, or the most ever done. 

For example, last week a national news item featured the last surviving veteran of World War I who died at age 110.  Frank Buckles was one of 4.7 million U. S. troops who were veterans of that war.  Here might be a way to use that piece of news to begin a speech.  "Last week, the last surviving veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles, died at the age of 110.  This signified the end of an era in our history.  In like manner, today we are in the last weeks of occupying this building that has served us well over the past five decades.  But this, too, is the end of an era.  Next week we will begin to move into a ‘state of the art’ facility that will make our work much easier, and we can be more productive."

Watch for unusual or significant current events that might be adapted as the opening piece of a presentation. Then your content will have more impact on the people you want to motivate or inform.  You can find other helpful hints in my most current book, ATTENTION! The Art of Holding Your Audience in the Palm of Your Hand.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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