How do you give a memorable, personal introduction for a speaker? It’s a great art, and an important part of any speaking engagement. Your introduction sets the tone for what’s to follow, and helps grab the audience’s attention. Here are a few things we have learned over the years at Winning Presence.
- Do some research before you are at the dais. Ask the speaker for biographical information, and interview him or her prior so you are armed with relevant stories to connect him to the audience. Ask why he’s interested in speaking to this group, and what – if any – personal ties he has to the organization. Ask her how she’d like to be introduced in case she has any specific stories or ideas to share. Preparation is always the first step.
- Do NOT recite someone’s biography. If you are introducing someone to speak at most professional organizations or corporate events, the speaker’s bio is often printed in a program book or available online. A biography is too lengthy, and it is generally not written to be read aloud. It is not in a storytelling format.
- DO include some important biographical highlights in your remarks, like the person’s current title and responsibilities. Rather than reciting a list, however, tell a story or two about the person’s job. Also include anything from the bio that connects the speaker to the audience. One of our clients, a CEO, gave a speech to a state bar association. The room was filled with lawyers, judges and elected officials – many of whom had legal backgrounds. The person who introduced our client neglected to tell the room that prior to being a CEO, this person practiced law for many years in the bar association’s state! It was a missed opportunity to share some common ground with the room.
- Definitely tell a story that connects the speaker to the audience’s cause, business, or focus. If you’re introducing someone to speak at a fundraising event for a hospital, tell the audience what makes the cause near to the speaker’s heart. I had the pleasure of introducing some senior leaders in our profession for an industry luncheon, and I took time to share how each of the speakers had impacted the communications profession. People approached me after the event and said they felt a more personal connection to the speakers before they had taken the stage.
- Generate some excitement for what the room is about to hear! If it’s relevant, share how you met the speaker, and what makes you proud or honored to be able to introduce him. Talk about what you heard the speaker say about the topic in the green room or what you heard him share in one of his last speeches.
It’s an honor to be able to introduce a speaker. With good preparation, personal storytelling, and the right amount of enthusiasm to get the room excited, your introduction will always be a hit!