Use an 'Inverted Triangle' in Your Introduction
When I was teaching public speaking, one of the biggest
complaints I heard from my students was, "I don't know how to
start!" This is a problem that goes well beyond classroom
speeches, however. Many of the questions I get from business
speakers are also about introductions: Should I use a joke?
Should I just state my position right away? How do I get the
One tool that I have found to be very useful when trying to
write an introduction is called the "Inverted Triangle." This
concept is used mainly in journalism, but it works great for
speech introductions as well. When writing your introduction,
visualize it as a triangle with its widest part at the top and
the point at the bottom.
This triangle represents how specific your information is at any
given time in your introduction. The wide part at the top
represents fairly general information, and, as the triangle
becomes narrower, the information becomes more specific. In
essence, the inverted triangle is just a way to remember that
you should go from the general to the specific in your
I've found that the best way to put this into practice is to
start off by talking about some general issue or problem. Then,
I try to apply it more specifically to the audience that I am
talking to. Then I become even more specific by advocating a
particular plan or solution.
As an example, if you were giving a presentation on your
business opportunity, you might begin by talking about the
economy (general), and how hard it is for some people to make
ends meet (a little more specific). Then, you would discuss how
nice it would be for your audience to have some extra money to
pay bills or buy that luxury item they've always wanted (more
specific). Then, finally, you would introduce your opportunity
as a way that they could accomplish this (even more specific).
As you can see, this format is a nice way of leading into a
subject. By using the triangle, you can "ease" your way into
making your main point at the end of the introduction. The
inverted triangle certainly isn't the only way to structure an
introduction, but it is very helpful when an introduction
doesn't spring instantly to mind.