Which of the following openings would capture your listeners' interest in a speech on recycling?
(a) You all must be blind not to have done something about the aluminum cans which litter our streets.
(B) I am here today to talk to you about recycling aluminum cans in our neighborhoods.
(C) The recycling of only one aluminum can saves enough energy to burn a 100-watt light bulb for 3 1/2 hours.
Two of these openings would capture your listeners’ attention for this speech. However, one of them is more likely to alienate them and cause them to be less receptive to what you have to say.
Option B here is the one that would clearly not be a good opening sentence. This is just a plain statement of the main topic of your speech. It does not give listeners any reason to engage with the subject matter and it does not give them any reason to think that the subject matter is important.
Option A is better than Option B because it is more likely to engage the emotions of the people in the audience. They will be surprised by the way you have started the speech and will pay attention, at least for a while. The problem is that they are likely to be insulted by this opening. The opening does not invite them to think and to care. Instead, it criticizes them. This is not a good way to get the audience on your side.
Option C is the best option. It gives the audience a reason to think that the speech is important. It might intrigue them and get them started thinking about your topic. It will not insult them. Instead, it is the option that is most likely to draw them into your speech and ensure that they are receptive to what you have to say.