When preparing a speech, it's important to prepare as you will have to grab your audience's attention immediately. The first 60 seconds is critical. According to research by Microsoft, the average person has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. This is exactly why your speech needs a creative hook right off the bat and using some strategic attention-getters works wonders.
A great way to engage an audience is to begin by asking a rhetorical question. This makes the audience think and helps keep their attention as you go on to further explain your point. An example could be, "Why is it that we doubt ourselves when we receive criticism?" This question works great for a business speech on building a business or strengthening skills.
One way to capture the attention of an audience right away is first to announce an interesting fact or astonishing statistic. Make sure the statistic you use is related to the speech you're giving. Try to choose a fact that can solve a problem for your audience and is related to the topic you're discussing.
When you use the word "imagine" you're telling your audience to envision something. They may automatically do so. This will capture their attention as they focus on the mental image you put in their minds. The great thing about this attention-getter is that it can be used with any topic. For instance, if you are speaking about criticism and told the audience, "Imagine letting the critical thoughts and negative doubts in your mind just pass. Now imagine how much success you can achieve without all the negativity. Think about how positive your life can become." This is an effective way to not only gain the attention of your audience but also to encourage them to think about positive outcomes.
Think about the topic of your speech. Do you have a personal story you can share? Preferably, share a story about how you started out on the ground floor and climbed to a top-level position. An audience becomes fully engaged with a story like that. People are naturally curious about how people reach a high-level of success. You also inspire people who aspire to be at your level, and they will take in every word you say.
In the opening of your speech, you could quote someone famous. This attention-getter works best when you know it's someone that your audience respects. Choose your source carefully and make sure it relates to your topic.
All in all, it's important to do everything you can to engage your listener and combat modern society's ever-shrinking attention spans. Add as many captivating stories as you can and use rhetorical questions to make your listener think and relate to what you're saying.