At some point in your writing and speaking life, you’ll be called to introduce a speaker for your conference, awards ceremony or monthly meeting. Maybe you didn’t have anything prepared and winged it or maybe your speaker didn’t give you anything beforehand. It went OK. No one made a beeline for the exits. But you knew in your heart you could do better.
Giving a great introduction will not only make your speaker feel valued and credible, your audience will also be grateful for your preparation. With a strong introduction from you they’ll be mentally prepared, ready to listen and will look forward to welcoming the speaker. Your audience will feel valued, too.
I’ve introduced speakers at least twice a month for the last five years and I’d like to share some of my tips with you.
- Have your speaker send you an intro and then you edit it and fill it in if necessary. Make sure the speaker’s topic and what it means to this audience is front and center, not how many cats they have. Don’t stray from the script and upset the speaker’s flow. She took a lot time putting that intro together!
- Tell your audience why the speaker is qualified to give this talk. And get your facts straight, such as the speaker’s name. You don’t want your speaker to correct you. I almost corrected the guy who introduced as Sharon Osborn, but knew it may set the room’s energy all wrong.
- If you and speaker aren’t friends, get to know the speaker at least through Google, and at most through a phone chat.
- Email the new intro back to your speaker to make sure you get his/her approval and there are no surprises.
- Prepare beforehand! Introduce yourself if no one has introduced you before you ascend to the podium. Memorize your introduction if necessary so you’re not looking down at your notes and speaking in a monotone. If you have to use notes, memorize the last line so you delivery it with punch and charisma as you turn to welcome your speaker to the podium. “Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming President Bill Clinton to the podium!”
- Make sure your sad and your happy face aren’t the same (True Blood fans will get this). Smile! Be excited through gestures! Show excitement on your face and if you can’t muster it, please fake it for the sake of your speaker and your audience.
- Don’t take up too much time—60 to 90 seconds of introduction is plenty.
What other tips can you share about introducing a speaker? What intro gaffes have you witnessed?