When you start a speech, you know that the first words that come out of your mouth should be interesting to your audience. However, I’m going to take that thought one step further: your first words have to “hook” the interest of your audience. What you say has to catch them off guard, it should intrigue them, it should make them want to hear more. This is not easy to do, but I’ll show you how …
What is a hook?
In the world of advertising, a “hook” is what grabs the audience’s attention and holds it back. Every year in the US, the football game Superbowl sells its TV commercials for millions of dollars and each advertiser desperately tries to find a “hook” that will make the audience remember what they are trying to sell.
One key point that many Superbowl advertisers miss (and speakers too!) Is that the device you use to grab your audience’s attention should be tied to the main message. Otherwise, it will just turn heads and accomplish nothing.
This leads to the question: what is a hook? A hook can be anything a speaker uses to grab the audience’s attention. There are many different ways to do this – surprising statistics, funny stories, or even a clever phrase will suffice.
Giving a speech is hard work. A hook can make it easier. When you take the time to create a hook to use with your next speech, you will reap a lot of benefits. These include having the ability to be sixteen years old and hold the attention of your audience. It will increase the chances that your main message will be heard and understood by the audience. Finally, a good hook makes what you say that much more memorable.
Types of hooks you can use
Once you have decided to start your next speech with a hook, the question you will have to answer is what type of hook do you want to use? The good news is that there is a lot to choose from.
One of the best hooks a speaker can use is a personal story. A note of caution here: the story you decide to tell should have a link to the main point of your speech.
The reason a personal story works so well as a hook in engaging your audience is because your audience will be able to relate to it. Stories are how we communicate and therefore are what your audience will be able to easily remember long after you’ve finished speaking.
Another type of hook that a speaker can use is an accessory. An accessory is simply any kind of visual aid. Since the art of speaking is about using words to communicate your message, when you suddenly show your audience a tangible physical object, you will grab and hold their attention.
Wearing an accessory that ties in with the message you are trying to convey can anchor your message in the head of your audience. During a speech I was giving to employees of a mobile phone company, I used their own “mobile driving safety” brochure as a support to show them that they weren’t following their own rules before launching a speech on how to better manage their teams. .
Finally, providing your audience with statistics that are unusual or surprising is another way to hook them. The reason this works is that it gives your audience a way to understand what might otherwise be a boring concept.
An example of this would be if you were talking about how we can improve our relationships with our spouses. The American Animal Hospital Association conducted a survey that revealed that 78% of pet owners admitted greeting their pet at the door before greeting their spouse or partner. Your audience wouldn’t expect that kind of statistic and would “hook” them to hear what you said next.
What does all this mean to you?
To be an effective speaker, you must not only find a way to grab your audience’s attention, but you must also find a way to hold it throughout your speech. It turns out that one of the best ways to do this is to “hook” the opening of your speech.
The true power of a hook is that by capturing your audience’s emotions, you can make it easier for them to understand and remember the message in your speech. A good hook has the ability to remove all the clutter that we all encounter every day and make your speech memorable.
Crafting a good hook for your next speech is going to take some time and effort. The good news is that the time you put into doing this will be largely rewarded by the absorbed attention you receive from your audience and the compliments you receive from them when you are done speaking.