- - - Hooking Your Audience - - -

The Attention Getter!

Methods of Introduction



Consider…Your P-A-T…

your purpose - your audience – your thesis











startling statements or quirky facts







a series of statements that get the listener to ponder the topic


[3 examples on the right]

…an author pitches his trend-bucking proposal for a streamlined, rather than gourmet, cookbook to a publisher pointing out this cookbook is different following…

15. 15 minutes. Yes, 15…the time average American currently spends preparing dinner, according to a recent survey. Healthy? Mostly likely not if prepared in that time frame. Here are some tips to providing a healthy and balanced meal for your family…and it might take only 15 minutes if one plans ahead.

modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html


An artist writing a background of how he got into the business of crafting funeral urns starts his spiel with the following…

A shoebox, or even a toaster. The average adult, when cremated, has the volume of ashes about three quarts--enough to fill a shoebox. Cremation, may be a cheaper method, but it’s the urn that will display the person’s memory.

modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html


How a doctor might start his speech on depression awareness…or how a student might start their speech on the benefits of chocolate…

“Eat two chocolate bars and call me in the morning,” says the psychiatrist to his patient. Such advice sounds like a sugar fanatic’s dream, but recent studies have, indeed, confirmed that chocolate positively affects depression and anxiety.

Depression can be a debilitating disease, but it is treatable.

modified from http://www.english-blog.com/archives/2006/10/composition_lead_ins_that_hook_your_audience.php





startling questions



a series of questions that get the listener to ponder the topic

[1 example on the right]

How someone might start a speech on the signs of depression…

Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you changed your eating habits? Have you experienced a loss lately? Do you feel hopeless and like nothing will ever get better? If so, you may be suffering from depression… Depression can be a debilitating disease, but it is treatable.









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visual aids




use of objects, pictures, or other visuals to get attention of listeners

[1 example on the right]

How a speaker presenting the pros and cons of carrying concealed weapons might use visual aids to start a speech…

Like this, only miniature [hold a large lotion bottle]…like this, but maybe fatter [hold up a 5-stick gum package]…like this, but only real and dangerous [hold up a toy gun]…a woman’s purse, just the place for a concealed weapon…Such laws vary from state to state. The United States Federal Government should intervene and make gun conceal laws national.




set the scene




descriptive & should appeal to the senses with details


[1 example on the right]

How a speaker presenting info on child abuse might start a speech…

With one eye blackened, one arm in a cast, and third-degree burns on both her legs, the pretty, blond two-year-old seeks corners of rooms, refuses to speak, and shakes violently at the sound of loud noise. Tammy is not the victim of a war or a natural disaster; rather, she is the helpless victim of her parents, one of the thousands of children who suffer daily from America’s hidden crime, child abuse.

modified from http://www.english-blog.com/archives/2006/10/composition_lead_ins_that_hook_your_audience.php




an analogy or contrast




pick something to compare your topic to & connect the ideas


[1 example on the right]

How a speaker presenting info on security might start a speech…

The Romans kept geese on their Capitol Hill to cackle alarm in the event of attack by night. Modern Americans, despite their technology, have hardly improved on the old system of protection. According to the latest Safety Council report, almost any door with standard locks can be opened easily with a common plastic credit card. Home security systems seem to be a necessity in today’s crime-ridden society.

modified from http://www.english-blog.com/archives/2006/10/composition_lead_ins_that_hook_your_audience.php




hypothetical scenario










a plausible series of events









[2 examples on the right]

A company that manufactures "smart" technology tries to create excitement in potential investors or consumers with a positive angle:

Imagine a world in which a building senses earthquake vibrations and adjusts the resistance of its walls to withstand the tremors. Self-navigating cars travel the nation's highways, slowing down, changing lanes, and choosing the fastest route, as appropriate. These might sound like ideas straight out of a Star Trek script, but they will become realities sooner than most people think.

 modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html


For a speech on the issues related to deafness to establish empathy between the target audience and the cause can promote through negative imaging & definitely tug at the audience’s heart…

Imagine a world without sound. A remote, silent landscape void of normal conversation and music.…Imagine not being able to hear the birds singing early in the morning or a favorite song on the radio. For an estimated 28 million Americans afflicted with hearing loss, this silence can be overwhelming. Cochlear implant technology is just one of the many ways hearing impaired people can be made to hear again.

modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html















used ONLY for ceremonial speeches



[1 example on the right]

A person presenting the use of the computer at a senior citizen’s workshop.

Welcome fellow dot-com users. Throw away your mouse, mouse pad or track ball, and all that…just put on the glove of technology--the skin tight glove prepared to give you easier movement with your desktop. This is just one way technology and the medical area have worked together to stop technology-caused physical health issues.





a series of vignettes







a series of short statements that are depicting similar situations






[1 example on the right]

The three statements below can be linked together then w/ a clear thesis statement or a punch line…


"In New York City, a doctor notifies the health department after seeing two cases of encephalitis with unusual features.


"In Washington, D.C., an emergency room physician's suspicions are raised after a patient suffering from mild, flu-like symptoms reveals that he is a postal worker in a facility near the nation's capital.


"In New Jersey, a pediatrician takes a hard look at what appears to be a spider bite on a child's arm, after learning that the infant had recently been brought to her mother's New York news office."


"Thanks to the efforts of alert clinicians, Americans have quickly come to understand that we are living in a new era in which the symptoms of common threats—encephalitis, the flu, or spider bites—are mimicked, as in the New York, Washington, and New Jersey cases, by lethal, unexpected foes such as the West Nile Virus or Anthrax."

modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html





personal experience



must show your passion for the topic or must be a clear connection to your topic


[1 example on the right]


This intro was spoken by a man at the peak of his career. He started his speech by beginning where he began, in the inner city…


"We ended up moving to…a typical tenement—rats, roaches, sirens, gangs, murders. Our heroes were the drug dealers because they gave candy to the kids." I needed a role model—not these folks—someone moral. Role models play five important parts in a young person’s life.


modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html





build suspense





put the audience on the edge of their seats by building up the momentum


[1 example on the right]

For a speech about the advancement of technology…


In the 1950’s, small black & white ones began entering the living rooms of the average American family—if they could afford it. In the ’60’s giant dish-like devices set in a person’s yard. In the mid-70’s, a huge cassette-tape-looking device was introduced. And in the 1980’s, one could rent one, suitcase style, from the video store. Now, it’s the pause button.

Television technology has grown at an enormous rate. Soon will a person be able to close his eyes, think a show, and it’ll appear on his eyes lids? Probably not. But technology continues to progress, so here’s what’s next.




literary quotation or a famous quotation



a well-known quote from a novel, book, or event; something a well-known person said


[1 example on the right]


How a person might start their speech on the meanings of names…


“Just call me Ishmael,” Melville wrote as the first sentence of his famous novel. “I am because I am,” said God to Abraham in the book of Genesis. And…my name is Jane because my parents called me that at birth…names, just where do they come from?










a play on words of a well-known quote, cliché, or a turn of phrase



take a well-known saying & fit it to your topic by changing the words


[1 example on the right]


How a person might start his speech on how to plan a good vacation…

To be on a beach or up a mountain?  To be in the East or in the West?  To be camping or to be in a hotel?  To be up north.  To be down south.  To take a vacation away from home, or to stay at home and vacation…that is the question.

Six hot spots exist within a day’s drive from the air city, so you can enjoy a short 4-day weekend jaunt.




a pertinent quote





the testimony of someone who had information about the topic or something relating to the topic



[1 example on the right]


A document presenting an innovative communications product, for example, can rely on quotes that illustrate the historical evolution of that industry:


"This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." This was in a Western Union internal memo from1876.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." This shocking statement was said by Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., back in 1977.

Our cell phone loving and technology dependent society today could not imagine making those statements. But what about school? Technology will transform the way in which school is taught in the years to come. Here’s how.

modified from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3606.html