Make a Production of Your Introduction
How often are you given the opportunity to give a keynote speech? Now, how often are you asked to introduce a speaker, present an award or give a eulogy? You’re more likely to be asked to give short presentations like these than a keynote and it’s up to you to make the most of them—to make them compelling and memorable. Taking advantage of these opportunities can heighten your visibility and give you the competitive edge over others in your field. Years ago, when I was building my financial planning business, I joined committees that allowed me to have those 1-2 minute “moments in the spotlight” where I either gave a report or, better yet, introduced the keynote speaker. It never failed: I got business every time I spoke.
If you belong to any service or community organizations, you most likely have guest speakers. Offer to introduce them and then commit to doing it in a way that keeps the audience interested—remember, they’ve probably already googled the speaker and know the basic information you’re listed in their bio. You can make a powerful impact on the speaker and the audience in a short period of time simply by putting a little effort into the introduction.
Most people introduce a speaker in one of three ways:
They read the speaker’s bio verbatim, never looking up and never deviating from it, no matter how long it is.
They say “Amy sent me her bio but it’s so long, I’m not going to read it all,” and then proceed to stumble and mumble while searching for the sections they think are worth sharing.
They—and this is the worst choice of all—say, “Our speaker needs no introduction. Please welcome Amy Ayoub.” I may not need one, but I deserve one, and so does anyone investing their time to speak! And, just as importantly, the audience needs to be made aware of why was this particular person chosen to speak to them and what their credentials are on this topic.
With just a little extra effort your introductions can become legendary. Follow these steps and wait for the kudos that will come your way for your thoughtful introductions.
Consider this a mini-speech and begin with a compelling opening as you would any speech. Don’t let your first words be, “Our speaker today is Amy Ayoub.” Instead, you might start with, “Do you get nervous when you’re asked to speak in front of a group? Well, our speaker is here to help you conquer that fear.” Then, go into the rest of the introduction. You need to grab their attention first for them to even pay attention to the name of the speaker.
Choose something personal that makes the speaker stand out from others and share that. If she is the first woman to have been appointed to a commission or if she loves boxing, let the audience know. It helps the audience connect on a personal level.
Acknowledge any recognitions or awards she has received that are connected to her topic, not the entire list of 100 accolades she’s accumulated.
Highlight the most pertinent details from the speaker’s bio. If she has a personal story regarding human trafficking, or if she has been helping others with their speaking challenges for 3 decades, that’s information that needs to be shared.
Include a personal testimonial—either your own if you know the person or someone else’s. Even if you have to call someone to get that personal quote about the speaker, do it.
Share what the speaker’s topic is and how the audience will benefit. “After hearing Amy’s presentation on ‘How to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking’ you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing you can be calm, confident and compelling. Please welcome Amy Ayoub!”
Memorize the introduction until you can deliver it in a conversational manner! This will not take long and will connect you and the speaker to the audience immediately. A good introduction takes 1-1 ½ minutes to deliver, which you can easily practice and remember.
If you invest some time into your introductions, it will be well worth it. You’ll be surprised at the attention your introductions will bring you (and your business). Because most people take the easy way out, your efforts will make you stand out.
Want a competitive advantage? Make a production of your introduction!
President, The Zen Speaker