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

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

  1. I am writing a speech for high school about how social media is making us anti-social. I am really stuck for a good speech starter that will engage my audience and i will be able to carry on into my speech smoothly from it. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Thanks for your question Emma.

      You could start with a rhetorical question that mentions the audience. For instance, you might say:

      “What does the term ‘being social’ mean to you?
      To me, it means…”

      or the more direct:

      “Do you think social media’s making us anti-social? I do! Let me tell you 3 reasons why.”

  2. Ah, I wish to use almost every opening line given here. They are certainly one of the best lines ever heard by me but for my presentation based on “Inspiring Business Mentors” where I only have to speak and sit, I am looking for an awe inspiring line to start with! Is it possible for you to suggest me a killer opening which would amaze the students sitting! I am in BBA, First Year & preparing for college presentation!

    • Thanks for stopping by and for commenting, Rukaiya.

      Please see my other replies below. You could also ask a rhetorical question, like “Who inspires you?” or “What do you think it means to be an inspiring mentor?”, then say “For me, …” and go on to explain your own answer to the question, and why you think that way.

      If you can, it’s also good to return to your opening at the end too. For instance, you might end your talk by saying “So that’s who inspires me, and why. Now, who inspires you?

      • Thank you for much. I used “What do think it means to be an inspiring mentor?” line and certainly got praises for a fabulous opening! It has become my regular site to visit for sure. I could use little more help in further two presentations! For both opening & closing ending lines.

        Role of Public Sector Enterprises in India is my topic for Management & Merits/Demerits of Arms & The Man [Bernard Shaw] in English. Would you please help me rock this piece?
        Thank you once again.

        • I’m delighted that you’re finding the posts here useful, so thanks for your feedback Rukaiya. That strongly encourages me to keep working on new posts!

          For the role of public enterprises, it would be good to think of some diverse examples you could mention in your opening, to get people thinking. How does your audience benefit from or interact with those public bodies? As before, it’s good to ask a rhetorical question that includes the word “you”.

          With the merits and demerits of Arms & The Man, what did you like and dislike about it? Again, you could start with a rhetorical question, such as asking what your audience liked and disliked. Then tell them your viewpoint.

          In either talk, it might also be good to enumerate the points you make – and ideally make 3 of them. That way, you’ll give your talk a clear structure that helps people to follow your message, and helps you to organise and remember your thoughts, too!

          • Our presentations were postponed to 19th September due to some reasons. Well, getting to the point; our presentations aren’t such like people can communicate. Since it’s a basic stage, we just have to speak up for 3 minutes-5 minutes [max] and take our seats! There’s no communication, ques-ans format or anything like that! Normally, I see examples of people starting with “Good afternoon, I am here for a short presentation regarding..blah blah!” and ends with “Thank you, have a good day!” My purpose is to start it differently. And end it more nicely. Which would make the audience little excited to get some new stuff.

            I tried thinking a lot but can’t come up with something that may differ. Hence, once again I would like you to provide me some examples from your own experience based on my description! I would really appreciate it! Thank you :)

            • Hi Rukaiya. I feel I’ve been pretty generous with examples and links in my replies – not only to your comments, but to many other people’s too. So now it’s down to you!

              Good luck with your speaking, and I hope you continue to find my blog helpful.

  3. So I was elected as class President and I have to make a speech dedicated to the higher level.. Can you help me for my opening line? Hope you reply as soon as possible..

    • By the higher level, do you mean students in the year above you?

      If so, one good approach would be to focus on the future, as seen by your audience or by the specific group your speech is dedicated to.

      Also, here are good ways your opening line can get people to imagine what your talk means for them:

      • Ask a rhetorical question.
      • Include the word “you”.

      To see what I mean, in a couple of other posts you can find an example for use by:

      Thanks for your question, and I wish you every success with your talk.
      (Afterwards, if you’d be willing to share with us a bit about how it went, I’m sure you and other readers would benefit from the reflection, and I’d be happy to offer more suggestions to make it a bit easier next time.)

    • Thanks for your comment.

      How much does the audience know about the topic? I ask because 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 either of these lines:

      • “Did you know…?”
      • “Please raise your hand if you know…”

      Either way, follow up with an interesting fact about the topic, so you
      intrigue your audience to hear more.

  4. 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!

  5. 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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