Awesome opening lines: 20+ more examples for your speeches, from Patricia Fripp (Certified Speaking Professional)

For neat ideas for your next talk’s opening line, here’s a great free resource. It’s a 2-page PDF packed with almost 30 opening lines by Patricia Fripp, CSP – former president of the National Speakers’ Association in the US.

A few months ago I shared a 7-minute video by Patricia in which she demonstrated 5 of those opening lines. Well since then, she’s generously published this greatly expanded list of ideas, in a format that’s really quick to take in.

Here are 3 examples:

  • “Just like you I was brought up to believe…”
  • “You know what it’s like when…”
  • “If I were to ask you…”

Draw your audience into what you’re saying

I like those examples because they each use the word “you”, which is a key way to help make your presentation about your audience. By involving people that way, you draw your audience into what you’re saying. You also properly orient your talk to their needs and knowledge – not yours.

So do check this out:

Click here for Patricia’s list of 20+ opening lines

You might also like these example opening lines, which can be especially useful for webinars. Lastly, check out the other documents and links on Patricia’s Handouts page.

Over to you

  • Which is your favourite opening line from Patricia’s list, and why?
  • What’s the best opening line you’ve ever heard or used in a presentation?

See these related posts too

14 thoughts on “Awesome opening lines: 20+ more examples for your speeches, from Patricia Fripp (Certified Speaking Professional)

    • Thanks for your comment.

      How much does the audience know about the topic? One way that Patricia Fripp suggests starting (in the PDF linked from this page) is to say “Would it interest you to know…?”

      Or you could just say “Did you know…?” or “Please raise your hand if you know…”

      Either way, follow up with an interesting fact about the topic, which intrigues the audience to hear more.

  1. For my speech I did 11 most deadly creatures. My opening was, by the time it has taken you to clap me on stage 1 poor soul has died of malaria😟. It was a bit longer tho. I got the idea from TED talks and made a few tweaks 👍🏻he has very good starters 😃👍

    • Thanks for your comment Olivia.

      Two types of opening lines are often useful: asking a rhetorical question with the word “you” in it, or sparking the audience’s imagination.

      For instance, if going to Egypt was on your bucket list, you might ask “Have you ever been to the Egyptian pyramids?”, or you might say “Imagine standing on the crest of a dune overlooking the Egyptian pyramids.”

      After that, pause for several seconds to let people reflect on what you’ve said, and then link to the rest of your speech with a statement like “I’ve been fascinated by the Middle East since seeing the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ as a kid. I find the pyramids especially magical because…”.

      I hope that helps!

  2. A good opening for your speech gets your audience curious and excited. For example, if you were doing a speech on dreams, you could say “Hey why did you wake me up? I was having a really good dream!” And then you could explain what your speech is about.

    Hope that helped!

    • Thanks very much for adding another example, Adelia.

      I think you’re absolutely right about making people curious, and doing that right from the start. In fact intriguing people is a key part of the FiRST framework that I use to write my talks.

      I like that your example asks a question, and uses the word “you”. Mind you, because people didn’t wake you, they might get a bit confused. (And they probably hope you weren’t sleeping right before your talk!)

      For a talk I’m working on right now, the opening line is:

      “Have you ever heard a dragon speak? [Pause]
      By the look on your faces, I can tell you’re a bit puzzled, so let me explain.”

      Again, that asks what people sometimes call a you-focused question, and aims to intrigue the audience.

      Anyway, thanks for joining the discussion, and I’d love to see you around the blog again any time.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment Valerie, and good luck with your speech!

      For an extemporaneous speech, that’s a good thing about the 3 opening lines I quoted above – you can take whatever the topic is and continue the opening line with it.

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