Attention Getters for Speech that Actually Work


Attention getters are used in speeches to capture the attention of the audience and keep them engaged throughout. The best ones are often quick, memorable, and presented with enthusiasm. Attention getters can be anything from a startling statement or joke to something as simple as an action that gets people on their feet. The most important thing is that they work. We’ll go over some attention getters and tips to ace your speech as well.

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Attention Getters for Speeches-Overview

One of the most important things to know about giving a speech is that it’s not an easy task. Giving a speech is basically involves getting people to listen and pay attention, which can be difficult and tricky at times.

Give your audience something they can’t help but notice. Speak louder than you usually do but don’t raise your voice; this will make your audience look up from their devices. Have fun with not only the content of your speech but also with the delivery, so its great to incorporate some physical activity if it seems like what you’re saying would lend itself to being acted out or used as part of a demonstration.

When you do anything with your body, especially if it involves a movement away from an audience member’s point of view, make sure that at least one other person is aware of what you’re doing so they can alert people.

If there are any distractions in the room that can be turned off, get rid of them. If there’s a fan or air conditioner that makes noise, have it turned off before you start speaking. In fact, any time you can remove distractions from the room, do so. Your audience will thank you for being an attentive host and speaker by listening more closely when they’re not distracted by things in the environment.

Be sure to smile and make eye contact with your audience members, as this will help build a connection that will keep people’s attention up for your whole speech.

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Why Getting Attention is so Important in a Speech

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of listening to a speech that went on and on, leaving you bored to tears, then you know how important it is for people to pay attention when someone is speaking. If people are not paying attention or have tuned out from what’s being said, then 20 minutes can feel like an hour, and you may find yourself trying to get up and leave. Reasons for getting attention when delivering a speech include:

  • What you say will be reinforced.
  • If people aren’t paying attention, they may miss important points or inflection of what’s being said.
  • People are more apt to relate to what you’re saying if they are paying attention because they can better focus on what you’re saying.
  • What you say may be remembered.
  • If a person isn’t paying attention, what you say may not be absorbed into their long-term memory.
  • What’s being said will not create any negative response from the listeners.
  • If people aren’t paying attention, they are more likely to get defensive or hostile if what’s being said does not apply to them directly.

Different Types of Attention Getters for a Speech

Several different types of attention getters can be used when giving a speech to help make sure that what’s being said will not cause negative feedback and will also be absorbed by the audience.

  1. Bold statements

Bold statements are a great tool to create a sense of intrigue and suspense. They definitely work well on an audience.

However, remember that bold statements should be used in moderation as overusing them can lead to audiences thinking that you are making the statements for the sake of attention rather than delivering important information about your speech.

Bold statements include facts and figures that are often shocking, which may be seen as controversial by some. These statistics or facts can help get your audience’s attention if you interestingly present them.

Bold statements should only be used as a lead-up to an important point in your speech. They can be used to make the audience think about what you have just said and reflect on it for a while.

2. Analogy

Analogies are a great way to make a connection between two different ideas that otherwise seem very distinct. It brings the audience’s attention from one topic to another and can help you better explain how something works or why something is effective.

Analogies can be used to make a point in your speech stand out more and help the audience better absorb the information you are conveying. This comparison can often draw attention to something that wouldn’t have been as obvious otherwise or bring attention to an aspect of something not usually thought about.

Parallelisms are also effective attention-getters. They are simply two or more aspects of a particular topic that you want to focus on, and they are listed in the same order as their related qualities.

3. Humor

Humor plays a big role when it comes to attention-getters. You can use humor in three different ways: the joke, the situation, and yourself.

The first one usually revolves around jokes that everyone does not understand. The second usually includes exaggeration or hyperbole about a certain situation that is normally very common. The third can be when you exaggerate your situation, making it more likely for the audience to listen.

Audiences like funny speeches. They are often remembered more than ones that lack humor because people enjoy remembering a good time rather than an uninteresting speech.

No matter what you do, don’t use humor if you cannot keep a straight face! You need to know how to tell a joke so that it elicits a laugh. If the joke is not funny, don’t tell it.

4. Questions

Questions are very important in speeches because they help you engage the audience and get them to listen.

Answering your own questions also helps the audience realize that what they’re hearing is something useful, even if it’s something simple.

Questions can also relate to each other, either in the format or in the content. They are a great tool to use when you want to emphasize something and make it stand out.

You can also rephrase a question you have just asked your audience as a command, such as: “Do you want to know how I solved this problem?”

Questions also help the audience feel more involved, and in asking questions at the end of a speech, you will leave an impression on them that you’re someone they can trust.

5. References

References tend to be very useful when you want your audience to remember a particular speech or figure out where the information they are hearing comes from.

You can also use specific references that only make sense to people who work in certain fields. This helps you appeal more directly to those people and give them information that might seem immediately relevant to their own lives.

Different types of references include personal, current events, historical, literary, and pop culture.

16 Top Attention Getters that Work on Stage:

1. Personal experience

This type of attention-getter is based on the speaker’s personal experiences, including anecdotes, examples from your own life, or that of someone close to you.

The major advantage of using this kind of attention-getter is particularly useful for convincing your audience since they are likely to react more favorably towards something you can explain in depth.

A personal experience can also make the speaker seem more authentic, reliable, and trustworthy.

2. Startling statement

A startling statement is an attention-getter that should be used carefully since it can negatively impact the audience’s expectations of your speech. If you use this type of attention getter, your main focus is to prove that what you said is true by backing it up with solid evidence and arguments supporting your claim.

This type of attention-getter is most commonly used in the opening sections of a speech.

3. Intriguing facts and figures

The use of intriguing facts and figures is very effective when you want to convince the audience of your points.

It’s particularly useful if you develop a scenario that allows your audience to easily connect with them and see how it might be relevant to their own lives. The right facts can help people think about issues they would not normally have thought about before.

If you choose to use this attention-getter, make sure your facts are as accurate and precise as possible.

4. Rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions are effective attention-getters because they make the audience stop and think about what you’re saying.

If those thoughts support your argument, then using rhetorical questions is a great way to confront them with your ideas or theories.

They can also be used as humor when they seem absurd or are exaggerated funnily. Make sure that the rhetorical questions you use make sense and are not confusing.

5. Historical reference/ examples

When you want to highlight a certain event, person, or time in history, make sure the references/examples are accurate. This will help your audience feel like they know enough about them to be able to fully understand and appreciate what you’re saying without having to do any research on their own.

If used effectively, historical references and examples can lead to a more powerful speech since they give your audience an insight into a specific time when certain things happened.

Make sure the historical references and examples you use are relevant to your topic.

To enhance your knowledge on other areas such as essay writing, check our guides on ACT prompts and samples

6. Quotes from famous people

Quotes are effective attention-getter that will help your audience connect to a specific point you’re making in the speech.

They can be particularly useful when it comes to stories and scenarios since they can provide your audience with concrete examples of the events or behaviors you’re describing.

Quotes that are relevant to your topic and come from a source worthy of respect (such as well-known figures of authority or experts in the field) will help you give your speech more weight.

If you want to use this attention-getter, make sure the quotes you use are from a relevant and credible source.

7. Use of props

Using props during a speech can be incredibly effective as an attention-getter.

Props are especially useful when you want to introduce statistics or any kind of visual information based on charts, diagrams, or graphs.

They can also add visual interest to your speech while showing the audience how what you’re talking about is relevant to their world.

Before you pick a prop, make sure it will enhance your presentation. To be effective, make sure that the props you use are relevant to your topic.

8. Jokes

Humor can be a very effective attention-getter, but you have to make sure that the jokes are relevant to what you’re talking about.

Using inappropriate jokes or stories during your speech will not only serve as an ineffective attention-getter, but it may also distract your audience from your message and decrease their interest in what you’re saying.

You also need to make sure that the jokes you use are funny. Jokes that fall flat on their face will not only be ineffective in grabbing your audience’s attention. They may also hurt the rest of your speech by making it seem less professional.

Make sure the jokes you use are appropriate, brief, and relevant to your topic. Avoid overusing them and always make sure a joke is funny before you use it in your speech.

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9. Reference to current events

If you have recently watched a specific news bulletin on television or heard about a current event, referencing it in your speech can be an effective attention-getter.

Before you use this strategy, make sure the news report has enough weight and credibility to back up what you’re saying, or else your audience may see it as mere entertainment and not take your speech seriously.

If you use this attention-getter, make sure that you’re actually talking about a news report or current event.

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10. Literary references

Literary references can be an excellent attention getter in a more literary speech and use lots of imagery.

Before you use this strategy, make sure that the literary reference is relevant to your topic since it will help grab your audience’s attention and show them how relevant what you’re saying is to their world.

Avoid using too many references as they can distract from your message and become an ineffective way of getting people’s attention.

To make literary references work for you in your speech, choose only a few of the most relevant ones.

11. Stories

Stories are an excellent attention-getter, but whether or not they will be effective depends on how relevant they are to your topic.

If a story is completely unrelated to what you’re talking about, it will serve as an ineffective attention grabber and may even distract from your message.

For a story to effectively grab people’s attention, it must be relevant to your topic and shows how something you are talking about is relevant to people’s lives.

Use stories sparingly, as too many of them can distract from the main message of your speech.

12. Response questions

This type of attention-getter is effective because it engages your audience.

However, using response questions in a speech only works if you know how to ask them correctly. If they are not asked properly, they may even distract people from the main body of your speech instead of grabbing their attention.

To make response questions work for you during your speech, ask them at the right place and only in certain instances.

When you ask a response question, make sure it is brief, relevant to your topic, and not asking for a yes or no answer. If you want a real answer from your audience, you need to give them enough room in which to provide one.

It’s also important to make sure that you don’t ask more than one or two response questions during your speech to distract people from your message.

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13. Visualization

This easily memorable attention getter works for speeches and presentations that are more visual.

If you’re giving a speech about selling real estate, you might use this type of attention getter by saying something like: “Imagine how beautiful the view is.”

You may also want to include some words with the image to expand upon what it entails. For example: “Imagine how beautiful the view is; imagine the smell of lilies and roses coming from the garden across the street.”

To make visualization an effective attention-getter in your speech or presentation, only use a few visualization techniques during the whole speech.

When you choose this type of attention getter for your speech or presentation, don’t forget to explain what it entails. If you are using visualizations that may be hard to imagine, explain the details in your speech or presentation.

14. Reference to audience

This attention-getter is effective because it connects what you’re saying to how the audience members’ lives are affected by your topic.

It’s important, however, not to put down part of your audience to emphasize another point. Using this type of reference can be an effective way to connect with people from different walks of life.

For example, you are giving a speech about poor workers in developing countries and the conditions they have to work under. You can save using this attention-getter if you say something like: “I know some of you may be thinking that my focus should be on Americans instead of these people who we don’t really think much about.” This type of reference will help your audience connect to the topic and pay attention without downgrading any part of it.

To make references to your audience work for you in a speech or presentation, make sure they are respectful and not critical of anyone. This way, you will always get their attention without losing theirs.

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15. Reference to the subject

If you’re giving a speech about football, for example, one way you can grab your audience’s attention is by using the sports vocabulary related to the topic. Using this type of reference will make everyone feel like they actually understand what you’re talking about and are invested in your message.

References to the subject of your speech or presentation can be used to grab the audience’s attention, as well as to connect with them. It helps them understand your message more comfortably and familiarly.

References like this can work for speeches and presentations about many different topics. You have to make sure that you use words related to your topic in the speech so people are interested enough to pay attention.

An example of a reference to the subject of your speech or presentation is if you say: “The football team was in a slump; that’s why they were losing so many games.” This type of reference works very well for speeches and presentations about sports because the vocabulary used in that field can be related to the rest of your speech or presentation.

16. Reference to Occasion

The occasion you are speaking on can be a great attention getter for people at the event.

If you’re giving a speech or presentation about your retirement, for example, then it’s appropriate to use reference to occasion as an attention-getter. You might say: “Tonight is one of those very special occasions; the occasion of my retirement.”

You can also use this attention-getter just by referring to the location and time you are speaking in: “Tonight is a very special occasion because we are here at Stanford University, and it’s dusk outside.”

Make sure that your reference to the occasion connects with whatever it is you’re talking about.

You may also want to check our other articles on speeches, such as demonstration speech topics

Tips for Coming up with your Own Unique, Attention-Grabbing Ideas.

Some people find it helpful to come up with a list of ideas they can use on different occasions and see which one works the best.

Even if you only have one speech or presentation coming up, you should still brainstorm some attention-getting techniques that are good for the occasion.

Here are a few tips on how you can be creative enough and come up with unique, attention-grabbing ideas.

1. Be prepared

When you’re speaking on the spot, it’s easy to make mistakes and use attention-grabbing techniques that don’t really work, not because they are not appropriate, but because they haven’t been practiced. To avoid this, come up with at least a few good ideas in advance.

2. Be careful

When you come up with an attention-getter, be sure that it doesn’t sound scripted or like you are just making something up on the spot. If you’re not used to speaking, this is a very common issue and can really affect your speech if you don’t watch out for it. An easy way to avoid this is to make sure that you never use the same attention-getter twice.

3. Follow your own advice

This may sound strange, but if you’re giving a presentation about grabbing people’s attention when speaking, it might be best to follow your own advice and make sure you don’t just tell them what they should do but also show them.

If your speech or presentation focuses on tips for giving speeches and presentations, then it’s a good idea to follow your own etiquette rules yourself. Make sure that you can practice whatever attention-grabbing techniques you’re going to use in front of others before you need them during an event.

4. Use your own voice

The best way you can grab people’s attention is to use your own voice. If you prepare a speech or presentation, practice it so much that it sounds like something you would say in real life. Don’t be afraid to sound natural and relaxed when you’re presenting; if people think they are listening to someone reading a speech, they will have trouble paying attention.

5. Use humor

Suppose you can be funny without being silly. In that case, you’ll find that your audience is much more likely to pay attention and remember what you say than if the presentation was an ordinary one with no emotional connection to anything. If you’re not sure how to be funny without being silly, make sure to check out a few good comedy movies and cartoons.

6. Don’t just entertain – inform

Even if you’re an entertaining speaker, the audience will be more likely to remember what they hear if there is some message or information that can be used later on in life. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur, you might be able to give out business cards or ask people to enter a drawing.

7. Use the senses

It will never be forgotten when you can incorporate as many of the five senses into your presentation as possible – sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. If you’re going to use food as an attention-getter, for example, you can touch it and smell it – that way, the audience will instantly know what you’re talking about when you tell them to taste it.

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