Bad Opening Lines to Your Speech: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

10 Bad opening lines to your presentation

You had me at hello. Imagine if you could deliver an opening to your presentation that was that effective. You can grab your audience with “hello” lines. But first you need to banish these disaster lines from the opening of your speech. Avoid these opening line mistakes in your presentation.

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking
This line has often been said with sarcasm. The speaker is an experienced speaker and is trying to be humble and funny. Sarcasm is a low level of humor. It is a negative way to start even if you get the laugh.

I don’t know why I have been asked to speak
This line is either sarcastic or true. If the first is true see the above. If the second is true the audience is in for a boring speech. Because if you don’t know why you have been asked to speak how will you know what your purpose for speaking is?

I haven’t really prepared anything
This line is either a sarcastic joke (see point one) or an admission of truth. If you are unprepared you are telling your audience that you value their time and attention very little. In other words, if you were important I would’ve prepared something – but you’re not so I didn’t. The audience had better prepare themselves for a self indulgent boring presentation.

Speaking off the top of my head
What does that mean? What does that tell your audience about your preparation or respect of their time. And, how do you speak “off the top of your head”? Do you ever speak from the bottom of your feet, the end of your elbow or behind your buttocks?

Today I am going to talk about
Boring! Start with that line and you have bored the audience with your first seven words. It’s an old, overused, unimaginative and cliché line.

Hello, how is everybody today?
Perhaps you saw some motivational speaker stand up on a stage and goad the audience to respond to this question. When the audience didn’t respond quick enough or loud enough the speaker yells into the microphone, “I can’t hear you.” That’s so cheesy and phony.

A funny thing happened on the way here
This is old, cliché and been overdone.

Thank you for that kind introduction
This can come across as insincere. It also diminishes the credibility of the introduction. The introduction was either true or false. If it was true it was factual. If it was kind does that mean that it was false?

Is this thing on?
The speaker walks up to the microphone, taps it, blows on it and states, “Is this thing on?” How unprepared. How inconsiderate can you be? If you want to look and sound like an experienced speaker check the audio/video equipment before your presentation. Get into the room before everyone arrives and test the equipment.

Before I begin
This is a dumb and confusing opening line. Why? Because, as soon as you started speaking you had already begun. To say, “Before I begin” is a lie. It appears that you are sitting on the fence with your opening statement. The implied statement is, “I’m speaking but I really haven’t begun yet or committed to what I said.”

Your opening line to your presentation could seduce your audience or repel them. Those were 10 of the most offensive and disastrous opening lines that you can now avoid. The next time you speak, imagine having them at hello.

© George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives. He helps business leaders deliver million dollar presentations. Claim your copy of the Power Presentations Tips free at Arrange for presentation skills training or private presentation coaching at or call 905-335-1997

Bad Opening Lines to Your Speech: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives