From colleges in San Diego to the East coast, giving a speech in front of their classmates can be a terrifying experience
for students of any grade level. Incidentally, it is also the #1 fear
of most adults. One of the reasons students (and adults) dread
this experience is simply because they don't know how to do it.
Particularly troublesome to novice speakers is "How do I begin my
talk?". This month's speaking tip deals with this very problem.
Dr. Ken Snyder, founder of the Leaders of Tomorrow Communication and
Leadership Program, has developed the S-MAP to serve as a format for
speech construction. S-MAP stands for the Speaker's Master Action
Plan. I developed the S-MAP to provide students with a very
easy method for constructing a speech. It allows the speakers
to be themselves and have a "conversation with the audience" while
delivering the speech. Notice on the S-MAP below that one can
easily build a speech using only six main ingredients:
MAIN POINT A
MAIN POINT B
MAIN POINT C
Notice that the
first item on the S - MAP is the Grabber. This is an excellent
way to begin a speech.
What is a Grabber?
A grabber is a question,
a gesture, an unusual or startling fact, a prop, an anecdote or a
personal experience that is intended to "grab" the audience's attention.
Advantages of Using a Grabber
1. It provides the speaker with an interesting start to the
speech. This builds confidence, helping the speaker to relax.
2. It immediately gets the audience interested in the presentation.
1. Grab their attention with
How many of
you would like to earn fifty dollars this weekend?(A grabber for
a speech on earning money.)
Who in the audience would like to earn an A in math this semester?(
Used in a speech on study skills.)
Concentrate for a moment and ask yourself: "What do I see myself
doing five years from now?"( A question grabber for a speech on
Do you know who put the E on the top of the Eye Chart and why it's
there? ( From a speech about vision and eye tests.)
You can see how these questions would bring forth a response from
members of the audience---or at least cause them to stop and think.
By doing this, the speaker has grabbed the audience's attention.
Use a gesture.
A seventh grade
student began his speech on gymnastics by doing three complete flips
after being introduced to the class.
An eighth grader "signed" her first sentence to the class as she
started her speech on communicating with the deaf.
Use an interesting or unusual fact.
began her speech on acupuncture with:
Do you think it's possible
that wearing earrings might improve your eyesight? Pirates
wore earrings in their ears for this very reason. Although
scoffed at for centuries, this idea is being reevaluated as part
of modern acupuncture theory.
Do you realize more Americans
have died in automobile accidents than have died in all the wars
ever fought by the United States? (A grabber for a speech
on automobile safety.)
Most people think of
Arizona as a desert state. Believe it or not, it actually
snows more at the Grand Canyon than it does in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
(A student in Arizona began her speech on the wonders of her state
with this grabber.)
Grab their attention with a prop.
A fifth grade student had a long piece of pink yarn and an even
longer piece of purple yarn spread throughout his audience.
His speech was on the human body and the yarn represented the average
length of a human's large and small intestine respectively.
Another student held
a balloon she had painted to represent the Earth before her classmates.
She suddenly pricked the balloon to dramatically demonstrate how
we are killing our planet if we don't stop pollution. Her
speech told us what we could do to help.
Use the power of personal experience to grab their attention.
Audiences of all ages love stories. Starting a speech with
a story, or better yet, a personal experience you've had (related
to your topic), usually makes a sure-fire grabber.
A Final Thought
From the examples above,
I think you can see how a simple but effective grabber (the
first part of the S-MAP) can build the speaker's confidence,
capture the class's attention, and get the speech off to a great