Secret #7 of star presenters: @JonAcuff on how to instantly be a better speaker

Woman's EyeIf you’re like me, you won’t believe that anyone can be a better public speaker instantly. It takes repeated practice – often for years!

At least, I used to think that. But then I read a short post by Jon Acuff, and I saw that it is possible – in one sense – to be instantly better at speaking.

The instant that Jon’s talking about is the moment when you say your opening line. As he notes in this pithy quote:

“The beginning seals the deal
or ruins everything”

He explains:

“You never get an audience
to join you in the middle
or the end of your speech”

Well, you might be able to get their attention back, but it’s far harder if your presentation’s opening line is weak. You know, like when a presenter uses their first words just to:

So how should you open your speech? Jon suggests what he calls a “lean-in line” – an opening line that’s so intriguing, your audience will be straining to hear what you say next.

For instance, recently I opened a talk with these lines:

“Have you ever heard a dragon speak? [Pause]
I have, and I’m sure you have too. [Pause]
By the look you’re giving me, I can tell you’re a bit puzzled,
so let me explain.”

For more inspiration, you’ll find a great example of an opening line in Jon Acuff’s post, which is well worth your time to read. So I highly recommend reading Jon’s post, and taking his simple yet powerful advice for instantly being a better speaker:

Start your talk with a lean-in line.

Over to you

What lean-in lines have you heard or used? Do share your thoughts either in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Secret #7 of star presenters: @JonAcuff on how to instantly be a better speaker

  1. It’s about being unique in your introduction – youve got to think outside the square to really get your audience thinking…… What the?? to whats next ..i cant wait!


  2. Hi Craig, this is a great point. This is the technique Craig Valentine calls “Tap and Transport”, that is, TAP into the audience’s world and then TRANSPORT them into yours. It’s a great way to begin a speech or a story within a speech. If you look at the World Championship speeches, they all start with some form of tap and transport. As Craig (the other one 🙂 ) points out, one of the best ways to tap is with a you-focused question as you have done perfectly here. Thanks for your post!


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