The best way I've found to make introductory information interesting and surprising is to talk about Mohammad.
Most people think the founder of any religion must necessarily have been a peaceful, spiritual, loving person who tried to do good in the world, healed the sick, taught peace, etc. Since Mohammad was the founder of Islam, they assume he must be like that too.
Most people may understand that religious organizations can go bad, or individual believers can go rogue, but only by twisting and distorting the original teachings of the founder.
But as you probably know, Islam is different. And Islam's founder is so different from expectations, talking about him makes an introduction to Islam captivating.
Here's the kind of thing I say to people when I'm talking one-on-one:
I have found out some amazing things about Islam — things I would never have thought possible. It's not like other religions. First of all, the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad, led raids on caravans, stealing their goods and often killing or enslaving the people captured in the raid.
He was a political leader and the head of an army, and he ordered assassinations of his political opponents.
He personally ordered and supervised the beheading of over 600 people at one time. That may be the most amazing fact of all. I mean, nobody can imagine Buddha or Jesus doing anything like that!
Mohammad also ordered a rabbi to be tortured to find out where a Jewish tribe had hidden their valuable objects (Mohammad wanted those goods). On Mohammad's order, his men built a fire on the rabbi's chest, burning him badly, and then the rabbi's eyes were put out.
It's amazing and surprising. At first I couldn't believe it.
And I haven't even told you the worst thing. It says 91 times in the Qur'an, in their most holy of books — the book they believe is the direct word of Allah — it says Muslims should follow Mohammad's example. In the Islamic religion, Mohammad is held as the ideal man; the one they should emulate.
Most people find all this very surprising. They find it so surprising, I usually follow it up by saying these historical facts are not slanderous libel by Muslim-haters, but historical facts from the books of Muslim believers. Mohammad was born in 570 and died in 632. He was a famous figure in his own day, and it wasn't that long ago, so historical facts about him are well-known, well-preserved, and not at all shrouded in mystery.
In other words, these are facts about Mohammad that most Muslims know (and accept as true).
After saying all this, you may have frightened your listeners. But you've also opened their minds to something they may not have wanted to hear: Islam is not like other religions in important ways. Your listeners might not be so quick to silence someone speaking ill of Islam in the future.
And then what might happen? What good does it do to speak ill of Islam? That's a great question, and the topic of another article: What Possible Good Does It Do To Say Anything Negative About Islam, Even If It's True?