Few people are naturally gifted public speakers, a point that's worth remembering if you have been asked to speak in front of your class or school. Public speaking is a skill that people finesse with practice. Begin this new journey in your life by doing your homework so that you can greet your audience like a pro and get your speech off to a graceful start.
Find Your Voice
There are any number of ways to greet an audience, so what you say isn't as important as how you say it. Adopt a tone that suits your personality. If you're a genial person with an engaging personality, a humorous greeting might work for you. If you're a shy, reserved person, a more serious, straightforward greeting would be apropos. Finding your voice – and staying true to it – will help put you at ease in front of your audience and fortify your confidence as you continue your speech.
Prepare Your Greeting Ahead of Time
The key to a good greeting is preparation and practice. It's important to determine ahead of time who your audience is and craft your greeting based on their needs. Find out their ages, demographics, and backgrounds before you write-up your greeting. You might also want to ask about any other presenters so you can make sure your speech is unique. Once you know who you're speaking to, you can draft up your greeting and practice reading it before delivering your speech.
Reach Out and Touch
Make a personal connection with your audience from the very start. Imagine that you are talking to one person rather than a crowd and try to establish a rapport with your listeners. After introducing yourself and thanking everyone for attending, draw in the audience by posing a relevant question or telling a brief and relational anecdote. Revealing a bit of yourself at the beginning of your speech will help stir interest and ideally keep your listeners rapt with attention, eager to hear more.
Turn on the Spotlight
If any people of note are in your audience, you might greet them individually at the start of your speech. Introduce the guests, briefly summarize their importance and thank them for coming. You should spend no more than a few minutes on this, or people will start squirming, so carefully consider which individuals should receive this honor.
Other Ways to Greet the Audience
If you greet the audience as members of individual groups, place the groups in hierarchical order. So, a student addressing a high-school audience might start his speech by saying, “Respected principal, teachers, advisers and coaches, esteemed parents and fellow students...” Another way to greet an audience includes acknowledging the time of day: "Good morning," or "Good afternoon/evening," warms-up the audience for what's to come. If you can pull it off -- and it's the right audience -- you can start with humor. Sometimes relevant jokes or funny quotes can help lighten up the audience and make you less nervous.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.