The Rule of Recency and Primacy

As a public speaking trainer and coach two things that I always try to get people to remember are:

Start Strong

Finish Strong

The first thing that you say (primacy) and the last thing that you say (recency) are 2 parts of your speech that are very likely to be remembered by an audience. So make use of them and start strong and end strong.


Make sure that you start strong with relevant and attention grabbing statements, statistics, facts, or engagement of the audience. You have 30 to 60 seconds to grab your audience’s attention, so start strong, start relevant and let them know immediately why they are there listening to you.

Do not start with pleasantries, welcomes, housekeeping, agendas or any apologies. The audience will lose interest and wonder why they are there. The MC or Chairperson can do housekeeping and welcomes and introduce you. Or you yourself can do this later on in your introduction, after you have started strong with your first powerful and attention grabbing opening statement.


End strongly with a memorable quote, call to action or strong closing statement. Leave them with a message that is going to keep them thinking and encourage them to act and take on board what you have just spoken about. Ask them to do something with the new knowledge and information you have just shared with them.

Do not end with formalities, questions or thank you’s as these have the potential to dilute your message, or distract the audience form your call to action

So start strong and end strong and that will go a long way to ensuring that you are an effective speaker and the audience understands and responds to your key message.

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  1. Pingback: Meetings Suck Series: Here’s How to Make Work Meetings Work. Blog 2: Opening the Meeting on the Right Note - TriviumU

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