7 Irresistible Public Speaking Hooks

Waiting for my audience to arrive

If you don’t have hooks strategically sprinkled throughout your speech, chances are your audience will bail mentally if not physically.

You have to find ways to keep hooking your audience in so THEY don’t want to let go.

7 Irresistible Hooks

Below you’ll find 7 irresistible hooks (in no particular order) that get your audience to say, “Please tell me more” or “What happened next?!”

Hook #1: Curiosity Hook

“After 15 years of trial and error, research, and blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve finally found out what makes the difference between a good presenter and a great one. It’s…”

That’s an example of a curiosity hook. You find ways to make your long road lead to their shortcut. However, you don’t tell them what they want to know…at least not immediately. Make them curious, tease them a little more, and then give them the tool (or solution, answer, or formula, etc.).

Hook #2 – The Attainment Hook

Listen to how I use the Attainment Hook in this audio.  

The Attainment Hook is just how it sounds. You simply let the audience know what they can attain if they pay attention to what’s coming next. Think “results-based.” I mention that they’ll be able to make a deeper connection than they ever have before. That’s certainly something they want, but I make sure to tease them before I tell them. Don’t give it up too soon. Make them wait for it and really want it.

Hook #3 – The Avoidance Hook

Here’s an example of an Avoidance Hook. I tell a story about a speech I gave in Michigan when I failed miserably to the point where the meeting planner couldn’t even look me in the eyes. Then I say to my audience of speakers, “This is something you should not have to go through and you won’t if you listen closely.”

The Avoidance Hook focuses on something your audience wants to avoid. It’s important to use this type of hook because sometimes people are motivated by what they want to avoid more than they are by what they want to attain.

Hook #4 The “Most People” Hook

Listen to the following example of me using the “Most People” Hook.

When speaking, always keep this in mind:

“Most people don’t want to be most people”

When I used to watch the master presenters, I realized many of them made statements like, “Most people do this…” or “Most people do that…” Whenever I heard those statements, I’d say to myself, “Well, I’m NOT going to be like most people. I don’t want to be average. I want to be something different.”

That’s the effect the words “most people” have on people. For example, when I say, “Most people live their lives on get-set,” I know my audience is thinking, “That WON’T be me! Not anymore.”

Because “most people” are two very persuasive words in the English language, my audience members get motivated to “go” rather than live on “get-set.”

Hook #5 – The Conflict Hook

Good stories have a conflict this is established early. Great stories not only establish the conflict, they also escalate it. Think about the Titanic. One of the conflicts was when the Titanic hit the iceberg. However, the escalation of the conflict was when the water rose on the Titanic. If the water never rose on the Titanic, then that would have been a terrible movie. Always think, “How can I raise the water on the Titanic in my story?”

The conflict is the hook because your audience wants to see how you will overcome it and what tools you will use. Why? Because maybe they can use similar tools for similar situations. In that way, your speech has become very useful to them.

Hook #6 The Silence Hook

I tell a story about how excited I was to meet my speaking hero. The only problem was, when I approached him, he said nothing back to me. That silence in the story becomes a hook because my audience is hungry to hear what he is going to say and then, when he doesn’t say anything, they’re ever hungrier to see what I’m going to do about it. The silent moment becomes the hook.

The problem with some speakers is they rush through the silence thereby making the potential hook much less effective. Take your time, dance in the silence, and watch your audience move to the edge of their seats. Remember…

You can’t rush and resonate”

Hook #7 The Statement Hook

One of the first stories I ever told as a speaker started out like this:

“Nobody has ever died from a snakebite.”

My audience wonders, “What’s he talking about? People get bitten all the time and I’m sure some of them have died.”

I then go on to tell them it’s not the bite, it’s the venom that kills them.

The key is that the first statement hooks them in to want to know more. The rest of the story clears it up and answers their questions.

When all of your hooks are done, your speech is over whether you know it or not.

Final Words on Hooks

As you can see, it’s important not only to have hooks at the beginning and end of your speeches, but to sprinkle them throughout. Oh, wait a minute! There is an 8th hook and it’s more powerful than the other 7 combined. It’s…

Craig Valentine

As a motivational speaker I've been fortunate to have spoken in over 20 countries, and back in 1999 Toastmasters International awarded me the World Champion of Public Speaking.

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