Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!
Introductions are among the most common and least-well-done aspects of public speaking. Your job is to set the speaker up and excite the audience for what is to come. Introductions should be graceful and fun. Fun to hear and fun to give.
An introduction serves two purposes:
1. It acts as a bridge, a transition from one part of a meeting/assembly/function to another. It gives the audience time to make a mental and emotional shift.
2. It prepares people for the speaker, heightening their sense of openness and anticipation.
Your task is to introduce the speaker, not to take centre stage. The spotlight is on you only for a moment so that you can shine it where it belongs: on the speaker.
Keep it brief. For informal gatherings 30 seconds is plenty. For larger events, aim for no longer than a minute. Under certain conditions — a very formal event with a very important speaker — you may need to speak for up to two minutes.
• Take the time to prepare well before you speak. Don’t put it together at the last minute.
• Ask the speaker for input. Make a short call in advance to ask what s/he’d like to emphasize, what’s especially interesting, or other details you can use to make the intro meatier. Find out whatever helps establish the speaker’s credibility on the topic he or she is addressing. Learn as much as you can about their experience, education, life, interests, and accomplishments. Many speakers will send you a resume or their own written introduction. Use it to help you prepare your remarks, but do not use it verbatim.
Thanking a speaker
To thank a speaker is a lot easier because you have heard the speech or presentation. All you then have to do is comment on something mentioned to show that it was really worthwhile listening to. Compliment the speech and never challenge the content. Lead a second round of applause.