Introducing a speaker is an art – not a skill.
The purpose of an introduction is to bring two people or two groups together, that is, the speaker and the audience.
It is never an easy task as there is always much at risk.
Should you fail, it could lead to the speaker having a dreadful experience which impacts on the audience or the results that you want to achieve by having that speaker there in the first place.
Another consequence of failure is not bonding the speaker and audience together.
This results in the audience losing interest in the speaker or the topic.
You never know when you may be called upon to introduce somebody. It may be introducing a guest speaker for your company, trade show or association event.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you handle the job like a pro.
Preparation is key. The best way of getting to know the speaker is to talk to them, ask questions, scratch for information that would be interesting to the audience. I have found that the majority of speakers are great at what they do, but when it comes to giving you a printed introduction, it usually does them no justice or is too long or they share every accolade and degree that usually bears very little reference to their talk.
Introductions need to be short, crisp and value adding. If they have given you an introduction and you need to change anything in it, check with them first.
Here are three elements you should include:
- The title or topic.
- Why this talk is important or relevant to the audience. In other words, why should the audience listen to the talk? What’s in it for them?
- The speaker’s credentials. What makes this person qualified to speak on this topic. Only include his or her qualifications that are relevant to the topic, for example, if the speaker is talking about dog grooming, it wouldn’t be necessary to mention that he or she was a pilot for a large airline company for twenty years. We want to know what gives him or her the right to speak about dog grooming. What makes him or her an expert in that area? These are questions the audience will have in their minds and it is your job to answer them. Have the introduction prepared well ahead of time. Rehearse the content until you are comfortable with it. Make sure that you understand what certain things mean and that your pronunciation is correct. During your rehearsal, read it out loud several times so that you are very familiar with the content. Refrain from reading the introduction in its entirety at the event as this does no justice to the speaker and gives the audience the impression that you are not really interested in the speaker. Have cue cards rather than a sheet of paper. Have key words rather than full sentences as this will not tempt you to read it. Practice pronouncing the speakers name correctly. Say the name several times so that it feels comfortable on your tongue.
In essence, this is a mini speech. When approaching the lectern look positive, confident and in control (but not controlling). Your role is to introduce and not to entertain or tell jokes. Never mention the speakers name before or during the introduction, as you want to create an impact at the end. Don’t use clichés like, “Put your hands together…” or “This person needs no introduction…”, rather, “Please welcome our speaker today (pause) (project your voice and say the name with a great amount of enthusiasm and excitement ) Jim Jones.” The surname should be louder than the first to create the impact. Never read the name.
Keep looking at the audience when you say the name. Lead the applause and only now turn to the speaker. Approach him / her, shake his / her hand and lead him / her to the lectern.
This is a very important job. To be successful will lead to the results you want the audience to achieve. Do a good job and you will be invited back to do it again, which can only add to your credibility.