Thursday, August 13, 2015

Purposes of the Introduction

Purposes for Good Introductions:Introducing Your Topic/Subject Quickly
1. Introduce/Reveal the Topic of the Speech

Introduce the Subject. Perhaps the most obvious purpose of an introduction is to introduce the subject of a speech. Within a few seconds after you begin your speech, the audience should have a pretty good idea of what your speech topic. Do not get so carried away with jokes or illustrations that you forget this basic purpose. There is not much point in telling a joke or a story and thcn failing I to relate it to your topic. Few things will frustrate your audience more than having to wait through half your speech before figuring out what you are talking about!
The best way to ensure that your introduction does indeed introduce the subject of your speech is to include a statement of your central idea in the introduction. In the introduction to a speech on geriatric medicine, the speaker left little room for doubt about the subject of her speech: After opening the speech with an illustration about her grandfather's poor health care at the hands of a doctor who misdiagnosed the disease, the speaker said that:

"Doctors have simply not been provided with proper medical training in the care of the elderly."
In a speech on the importance of listening, another speaker offered this statement of her central idea near the end of her introduction:

"Listening is the interpretation and evaluation of what we hear. Today I'd like to talk about listening…"
In both cases, the speakers made certain that the subjects of their speeches were announced in the introductions.

In short, don't get so carried away with trying to open with an interesting, creative, empathetic, or funny introduction that you forget the foremost purpose of the introduction: It should introduce the subject of your speech.

2. Gain Favorable Attention

Gain Favorable Attention. You are exposed to countless verbal messages every day, both from the media and from other people. For you to focus on anyone message, something about it has to grab your attention and put you in a receptive mood. So a second purpose of the speech introduction is to gain favorable attention for your speech. This concept is called several different names including attention getter, lead and hook.

Think about how long it takes you to decide whether to watch the channel you're on or to surf further. Think about how long it takes your parents to sort through junk mail. The people who design these mailings spend millions of dollars on "favorability gimmicks" to get their audience to read. Think about how long it takes you to decide if today's class is going to be fun or a bust.

Because listeners form their first impressions of the speech quickly, if the introduction does not capture their attention and cast the speech in a favorable light, the rest of the speech may be wasted on them. The speaker who walks to the podium and drones, "Today I am going to talk to you about. . ." has probably lost most of the audience in those first few boring words. Your peers will be discussing some of the ways to specifically gain favorable attention. Most people can be "hooked" by a good illustration, humor, a startling fact or statistic, or one of the other methods we will discuss. Why do we emphasize favorable attention? For one very good reason. It is possible to grab an audience's attention but in so doing to alienate them or disgust them so that they become irritated instead of interested in what you have to say. For example, a student began an anti abortion speech with a graphic description of the abortion process. She caught her audience's attention but made them so uncom­fortable that they could hardly concentrate on the rest of her speech.

Another student gave a speech on the importance of donating blood. Without a word, he began by savagely slashing his wrists in front of his stunned audience. As blood spurted, audience members screamed, and one fainted. It was real blood, but not his. The speaker worked at a blood bank. Using the bank's blood, he placed a device under each arm that allowed him to pump out the blood as if from his wrists. He certainly grabbed his audience's attention! But they never heard his message. The shock and disgust of seeing such a display made that impossible. He did not gain favorable attention.

3. Preview the Body of the Speech

Preview the Body of the Speech. The second purpose of a speech introduction is to preview the main ideas of your speech. As you saw in Chapter 8, the preview statement usually comes near the end of the introduction, often immediately fol­lowing a statement of the central idea. It outlines for the audience what the main ideas of your speech will be. The preview statement "tells them what you're going to tell them." It allows your listeners to anticipate the main ideas of your speech, which in turn helps ensure that they will remember those ideas after the speech. After opening with an illustration, a speaker talking about political prisoners of conscience offered this preview statement:

"I'll begin with a definition of a prisoner of conscience. I'll present a rough outline as to their numbers and locations. I'll examine some of the reasons for their abuse; and finally, I'll offer some solutions to ease their suffering."

This preview statement makes clear to the audience what the main points of the speech are going to be.

An effective introduction not only introduces the subject of the speech, but it also previews the main ideas that will be presented in the body of the speech.

4. Motivate the Audience to Listen--Relevance

Establish a Motivation or Relevance for Listening. Even after you have captured the attention of your audience, you have to give them some reason to want to listen to the rest of your speech. An unmotivated listener quickly tunes out. You can help establish listening motivation by showing the members of your audience how the topic affects them directly.
Relevance is the concept that listeners will be most attentive to information that affects them directly. Relevance is important in­ introductions because most people decide very quickly if a presentation applies to them and their lives. "This concerns me" is a powerful reason to listen. Notice how this speaker involves her audience with the problem of toxic silver dental fillings:

"It's estimated that 90% of the American population has silver fillings. That's some 225 million Americans with mercury in their teeth. Because this number is so large and many of us are counted in this number, I'd like to tell you about mercury, the toxic poison, and show you why we must escape its contamination."

Yes, the significance of the statistics is attention-getting, but it also motivates her audience to listen further by pointing out their personal susceptibility to the potential dangers.
After introducing the problem of unfair political asylum, another speaker ob­served:

At this point, you are probably asking yourself:

"Why should I be concerned about a problem involving only foreigners?" First of all, our government makes the decisions--­it represents us. As a nation, we assumed the responsibility of political asylum. Therefore, we must deal with it, however complex. Finally and most importantly, the problem deserves our attention, because the policy serves humanity. We know that it is only right to correct the inconsistencies within the system."
In this passage, the speaker made an impersonal problem-political asylum-morally relevant to her listeners. She motivated her audience by placing on them a burden of personal responsibility; she told them why the problem-should be of interest to them. Demonstrating that your topic is of vital personal concern to your audience is an effective motivator.

5. Establish Credibility

Establish Your Credibility. Credibility is the attitude listeners hold toward a
speaker. A credible speaker is one whom the audience judges to be a believable authority and a competent speaker. A credible speaker is also someone the audience believes in and can trust.

You should be mindful of your listeners' attitude toward you. When thinking of your listeners, ask yourself, "Why should they listen to me? What is my background with respect to the topic? Am I personally committed to the issues about which I am going to speak?" Many people have so much admiration for a political or religious figure, an athlete, or an entertainer that they sacrifice time, energy, and money to be members of an audience to which one of these admired persons is speaking. When Pope John Paul II came to the United States during the summer of 1987, people traveled great distances and stood for hours in intense heat to celebrate Mass with him.

Most people cannot take their own credibility for granted when they speak. If you can establish your credibility early in the speech, it will help motivate your audience to listen. One way to build credibility in the introduction is to be well prepared and to appear confident. Speaking fluently while maintaining eye contact does much to convey a sense of confidence. If you seem to have confidence in yourself, your audience will have confidence in you. A second way to establish credibility is to tell the audience of your personal experience with your topic. If you are an expert on your topic, don't let modesty keep you from letting the audience know. Instead of considering you as boastful, most audience members will listen to you with respect. Notice how the following speaker opened his speech on Boy Scouting:

"I come before you today representing one out of fifteen million people in over 67 countries throughout the world who belong to a very special organization, an organization designed I to help prepare youth for their future life. The organization is Boy Scouting, the world's best known youth movement."
Learning that the speaker was someone who was actively involved in scouting undoubtedly helped motivate the audience to listen to his point of view. Another student opened her speech with this personal illustration:

"Within the last year, two members of my family were diagnosed by their doctors as having skin cancer, caused by the sun. In my mother's case, she had purposefully, although naively subjected herself to the sun, laying out, tanning in tanning salons, etc. In my, grandmother's case, she was diagnosed by her doctor as having skin cancer from her I normal exposure to the sun. This woman had never sought the sun. Both of these cases made me realize that even though I don't subject myself as my mother does; I certainly get more unintentional exposure than my grandmother. So, I came face to face with the fact that I too could contract this disease."

Because she revealed her personal involvement with the topic, the speaker undoubtedly gained authority in the eyes of her audience. Her listeners would probably say to themselves, "She really knows what she's talking about." By enhancing her own credibility, the speaker established a strong motivation for the audience to listen to her.

A speaker should not take for granted some variables in his or her control. One of these considerations is personal appearance. Like it or not, how we dress plays a role in how people listen to us. Take, for example, the student who shows up in tattered jeans and a "holey" t-shirt to talk about a serious social issue. It might be difficult for the most objective listener to fully overlook this type of dress. The person simply hasn't considered how he/she is presenting themself. In like fashion, take the example of the man who shows up in a full suit to apply for a job in dry-wall installation. The foreman interviewing him and the other on-lookers might have quite a chuckle at his expense. Dressing for audience, occasion and purpose are always important considerations if the speaker is to be taken seriously.

The audience's speaking experience begins much sooner than when the first words come from the speaker's mouth. Some speakers underestimate their audience(s). Audiences are very observant and smart. By enlarge, they want speakers to succeed. However, certain behaviors seem to stick with the audience and their perception of the speaker.

Take, for example, the Olympic medal winner who was caught "picking his nose" in front of an auditorium of high school students before he spoke. Weeks after the speech when a teacher made reference to his speech, one of the students chimed in, "you mean the guy who kept picking his nose." Audiences use all sorts of information to judge a speaker. We need to be aware of our behavior and our dress when we are in front of an audience.

Speech introductions, then, should introduce the subject, preview the body of the speech, gain favorable attention for the speech, establish a motivation for listening, and establish your personal credibility. All this-- brevity too-may I seem impossible to achieve. But it isn't!