Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

Perfect Introductions

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.

  • Ask how to pronounce his/her name.
  • Don’t read – it’s is no better than reading a speech, and shows you didn’t prepare.
  • Audience interest is highest at the start of any talk, and you are the start of this one. So reward your audience by looking at them and by delivering an engaging, lively introduction that packs a punch.
  • Add some perspective of your own: You’re building a chance to connect the audience with the speaker. So put yourself in that equation. What would make YOU interested in this person?
  • Don’t skimp. Even the most familiar speaker deserves some words to warm the audience to the task at hand….and if you skimp on an introduction, you’re just missing your own opportunity to show your speaking skills.
  • Always be grateful that the speaker is there. Chances are they are just as nervous as you, and some warm words ‘we’re very privileged’ to welcome them will make things easier.
  • Conclude with the speaker’s name, which is her or his cue to come forward. Wait at the podium until the speaker arrives. Shake his or her hand and step back from the podium, handing it over symbolically to the speaker. Lead the applause.

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.


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This entry was posted on 03/08/2011 by in Uncategorized.

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