Writing Introductions


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  • At the beginning of each speech, your audience will immediately need the answer to five major questions. If you can answer these questions effectively, you should not have issues connecting to the audience throughout the speech. First,
  • This one seems like a no brainer. They will need to know what you are talking about. What is your topic? If you are presenting an argument, what is it. This is the thesis of your entire speech. If you had to summarize your entire speech in 10 seconds, what would it be?
  • Sad to say, but with all the media and messages floating around, people no longer have time or patience for “gee-whiz” information. You have to figure out why this is important to your audience. YOU MUST BE SPECIFIC TO THIS AUDIENCE. People get bored of hearing generic relevance statements. For instance, I can say, “Understanding introductions is important to your careers.” But most of you probably just shrug off that statement. However, if I say, when you all get ready to take your Introduction to History class next semester, you will need to know your introductions or else Dr. ____ will fail you… now you have a specific reason to understand.
  • What makes you credible? Building trust in your speech can be easy, but if you do not include it, you lose it. What you should go for is both competence and connection. What level of expertise do you have in the subject? Are you a major, do you have personal experience, etc. But also, we want to see a personal connection. You are more than just a student picking a random topic. You have a vested interest. For example, a student once did a speech on inter-racial romantic relationships. In her introduction, she introduced her bopyfriend, who was of a different race. She explained the struggles her and her boyfriend had gone through. She then added that she was a socilogy major. The combination of these two examples made the audience trust in what she was speaking about.
  • We live in an information age. We can get information anywhere as fast as we can type on our smart phones. You have to explain what makes your position unique. What are you offering that we have not heard before. As a speech teacher, I have heard 1,000 speeches on tanning and its dangers. But the one speech I remember was a student going beyond the health problems associated with tanning and instead focusing on the long term effects. Few of my students who write these speeches used that angle, so hers was unique.
  • You should have already went through the slides on connectives. It is easier for you to lay things out at first, so we can mentally prepare for the rest of the speech.
  • Of course, as we speak about introductions, we must also include a discussion of the closing of the speech. The difference between the two, of course, is that you are selling them hard in the introduction, in the conclusion, you are tying together the parts. This is important:
  • What I mean by this, is, if you built your speech effectivly: all you need to do now is lead them to the obvious solution. This means, keep the conclusion brief. Just sum up your ideas, then develop a clever closing. The key is to think: I have said my peace, now it is your turn to act. How is this for the metaphor: You are Merlin they are King Arthur. You are Alfred, they are Batman. In other words, you gave them the information, now they need to make the next step.
  • Here is an example of a good conclusion. First, we signpost it. We let them know we are done, now they can begin to tie things together. Second, we review the points. Remind them of what we said. Finally, we have a memorable close that puts the power into the hands of the audience. This one is probably a bit preachy, but still acknowledges the freewill of the audience, makes a clear argument without deliberatly saying what they should do.
  • Not for this class, but in many presentations, you will be asked to take questions at the end. I would also avoid the “Questions” slide. On one hand, it does show that you are open to discussion, but this should be expected. But this is a personal preference. If you do have questions at the end, be sure to go over your conclusion once more after the Q&A section. It will help, especially if the Q&A is heated. They may forget the main ideas of the speech, it is your job to remind them before ending the session.
  • That is all I wanted to discuss on intros and conclusions. Remember, that these elements are what set the mood and motivate your audience. It is not something you simply throw together. While it may not be as data packed as the main body, it sets the foundation for the remainder of the speech. You begin or end bad, all the work you put into the body is for nothing. In your discussion, be sure to explain to us why your example is bad. You example can be fake or real. I prefer real, but if you can’t think of one, then simply write out a bad example.
  • One last note (I know I am not supposed to include extra data in the conclusion, but this is a nice place for this) If you have to tell people that your speech is over, your conclusion needs work. Putting slides at the end of your presentation that says “The End” is tacky. You should just leave a blank slide. A simple “Thank You” at the close should be enough for people to understand. Still, every year, I get students who say, “and that is the end of my speech.” I would also avoid the “Questions” slide. On one hand, it does show that you are open to discussion, but this should be expected. But this is a personal preference. If you do have questions at the end, be sure to go over your conclusion once more after the Q&A section.
  • Writing Introductions

    1. 1. Intros & Conclusions The five big questions Closing the Speech Discussion Question
    2. 2. The FiveQuestions
    3. 3. What areyou talking about?
    4. 4. Why do I need toknow this?
    5. 5. Why should Itrust you?
    6. 6. What makesyour position unique?
    7. 7. How are yougoing to tell me?
    8. 8. Tips for Preparing theIntroduction  Be concise  Do your research  Be creative  Practice  Practice  Practice
    9. 9. “You want your audience to come to the sameconclusions as you have, without having to tell them directly”
    10. 10. For Example…In conclusion, this new health care plan is somethingthat our company has been needing for a long time.I talked to you about the benefits, the costs, and thelong term impact this policy will have on ourcompany.As you move to vote, I hope that you consider thelong term benefits this policy will create. We allbelieve in what we are doing. We want our companyto exist well beyond our time here. The decisions wemake now will have a lasting effect on not only ourlives, but the lives of our children.
    11. 11. Tips for Preparing theConclusion Research Empower the Audience Be brief Practice Nothing New!
    12. 12. Q&A Sections?
    13. 13. Give me anexample of a bad introduction or conclusion?
    14. 14. TheEND