Too few people are introduced effectively when giving a speech or a presentation. I always advise speakers to write their own intros. It’s sometimes the only commercial you will get.
Additionally, I instruct them to print reading instructions on the page with the intro. Simply say, “Please read as written. ” Funny thing, when we have that instruction on the intro, people will work so much harder to do it well – and just the way you have written it. It beats some clown saying, “Well, here’s an old buddy-buddy of mine. Never dreamed we’d be paying him to tell us anything about this subject. Let’s give a warm welcome to this fool!”
Being the introducer requires that we create an atmosphere of mutual respect between the audience and the speaker. We need to answer several questions: Why this speaker? At this time? For this audience and at this place? As a speaker you know how much better the event goes when these questions are answered.
Here are some pointers: - You are the stage setter.
- Create an inviting environment.
- Do your homework.
- Be really interested in the speaker and subject. Show it.
- Unless the speaker is a celebrity, use his or her name several times. Audiences forget.
- Be a little bit on the gossipy side. Make the introduction sound like a novel not a textbook. Be sure to answer the audience’s unasked question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Never introduce a female as “Mrs. John Smith” or in a sexist way.
- When you make an introduction, speak to the audience, not to the person being introduced.
- Do not upstage or over praise.
- While you are on stage, you are the captain of the ship. Don’t leave the center spot until the speaker has arrived. Welcome the speaker with a handshake, nod, smile, or slight touch on the shoulder, and then exit. It’s now his or her show.
- Model good listening.
- Lead the applause. Model the behavior you would expect from the audience.
You may not be compensated for simply introducing a speaker, but the more proficiency you display on the platform, the more desirable you become as a total package.
Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems , is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 40 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.