If you're fortunate enough to be asked to introduce a speaker, relish the power this gives you to set the stage for the entire presentation.
The normal routine is for the introducer to read fact after boring fact from a speaker's bio, with little eye contact or inflection, perhaps even stumble over the speaker's name, and then withdraw with relief.
Not only does this type of introduction not benefit the speaker, it doesn't create any enthusiasm or anticipation in the audience.
Here, then, are five steps to turn your introduction from boring to breathtaking:
- Prepare What You're Going To Say :: Don't wait until minutes before the introduction to scribble a few notes or read for the first time something the presenter has prepared. If the speaker has written an introduction for herself, get it in advance so you can read through it several times to familiarize yourself. If it's too long or too boring, let the speaker know that you will be modifying it slightly.
- Be Brief :: Your job is to build interest and anticipation and leave the audience eager for the presentation to begin so keep your introduction to under a minute. We generally have an inaccurate sense of how long something takes, so time your remarks to be sure you're in that 30 second to one minute range.
- Make It Relevant :: Whether you're editing what the speaker gave you or creating your own introduction, include information that is relevant to the audience. Answer the questions "Why this speaker?" "Why this topic?" instead of reeling off degrees, job titles and awards. Unless the presentation is about marriage and families, the audience probably doesn't care that the speaker is married to the former Sally Jones and has two delightful children. Highlight aspects of the speaker's background and accomplishments that will pique the interest of the audience. The very act of saying out-of-the-ordinary things in the introduction will cause the audience to listen attentively.
- Pronounce the Speaker's Name Correctly :: Determine the correct pronunciation of the speaker's name and then practice it several times so it feels comfortable. Write it out phonetically [RYE FEN STINE] at the top of your notes so it will be visible as you're speaking.
- Be Confident :: Your introduction will most certainly affect the mood in the room so walk confidently to the front and speak loudly enough that everyone can hear. Ensure you have everyone's attention before you begin speaking. Make plenty of eye contact with the audience while you are reading the introduction, which won't be a problem if you've familiarized yourself enough with it. And don't forget to smile, showing the audience that you're happy to be there and looking forward to the presentation.
What other techniques have you used or seen used when introducing a speaker? Share your thoughts with me.