Professor Lake taught us that a startling statement can be an effective introduction for a presentation ... but don't make it too startling.
She remembers the man who began by facing away from the class, then turned suddenly and shot her -- with a real gun and with real blanks. She doesn't remember anything else about that speech.
Then there was the quiet, shy, little girl who started her speech by admitting "I was a whore in the fields of South Carolina. It's hard work, wears you down in the heart, hard on the back...." She went on to explain her job as a "hoer."