World-class speakers often begin their speeches with so much impact, you sit up pay attention from the get-go. 

In 2016, when Aaron Beverly, the reigning World Champion of Public Speaking, was at the World Championships, he got the audience’s attention even before he was on stage. He had them in stitches because of his 52-word-long title that the poor contest toastmaster had to read. What makes it even funnier is that the contest toastmaster had to say it twice. When the audience laughs, it breaks the ice. The audience is more relaxed and because laughter makes people feel good, they tend to feel good about whoever makes them laugh too.

Then in 2019, when Beverly took the world stage again (and became the World Champion), he milked this joke from three years ago, and began with the line, “The contest chair was relieved. My title was only three words long.” The audience cracked up. This shows how good a joke it was—it’s still funny three years later. This call-back is extremely effective: it’s a shared joke that created camaraderie between him and the audience. Why is this important? Because we are more interested in listening to someone we feel connected to and we are more likely to root for him too.