Use this great way to introduce a speaker – it’s more important than you think

Even before you start speaking to an external audience, you should know that good introductions are crucial to effective speeches and presentations because an audience assesses the caliber of a speaker right from the start. This article outlines a great way to introduce a speaker.

A rule of thumb suggests that an audience’s assessment of a speaker is largely formed in the first 30 seconds of a talk or presentation. You can get those 30 seconds off to a good start by a good introduction.

Create the right atmosphere for a speaker to be well received by the audience from the start through a good introduction. It is remarkable how many hosts ramble when they introduce a speaker – they give their life history. In fact, words of introduction are fumbled more than any other aspects of a speech or presentation because the host doesn’t know how to do it well.

Maximum impact comes from a concise introduction, when the audience is told why the speaker was invited. This approach cuts out the fumbling background information that is given in many introductions. The safest approach for an introduction is to write a script, as below, to give or email to the host organization beforehand. By doing this, you succeed with a great way to introduce a speaker.

Formula for a great way to introduce a speaker

  1. Be brief. It’s not necessary to speak for more than one minute – preferably less.
  2. Speak informally – as you would to good friends.
  3. Be enthusiastic about your task. Make your introduction sparkle. You owe it to the person you are introducing and to your audience to be animated in your brief talk. Act as though it is a real privilege to introduce this speaker – feel happy about it – talk with real excitement.
  4. Above all, be warm and sincere.

Effective one-minute introductions

Here is a proven TIS formula to use for one-minute introductions:

Topic

Firstly, speak of the topic, giving the exact title of the talk or presentation.

Importance

Tell the audience why this topic is important to them.

Speaker

Tell the audience why your speaker or presenter is qualified to speak. As the final two or three words of your introduction, give the speaker’s name. Be sure to say it clearly and distinctly.

Imagine you are due to introduce John Smith, a corporate affairs manager, as speaker at a business lunch. You can use the formula to introduce him or you can write out this script using the TIS formula for the host to introduce him. You can’t go wrong with this (unless you read it verbatim in a clumsy way!):

T (Topic)

“Today we are here to listen to this talk on ‘How to avoid the mistakes of dealing with reporters.’

I (Importance)

“In the latest industry survey last month, senior reporters generally said they receive 50-75 pitches each day from PR professionals. In surveys on this topic, reporters say they don’t use up to 95% of those pitches. The pitches fail for three main reasons. Since we are all in the same profession, we are eager to learn how we can avoid these three pitfalls and keep our pitch rate as successful as possible.

S (Speaker)

“Our speaker has had a distinguished career in corporate affairs management. His corporate team is rated among the best in this city, and he is on the State board of the PRSA. Mr Smith [“John” if it is an informal function] has reviewed the report and has some important advice for us today.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome [pause]: JOHN SMITH!”

If there is a succession of speakers at, for instance, a seminar, you can adapt the formula to introduce later speakers along these lines:

T

“The topic of our next speaker is….”

I

“This topic is important/of great interest to us because…”

S

“Our speaker has great depth of experience in this field because…” etc.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…BILL PATTERSON!”

Further thoughts

For more insights into introducing speakers, you may be interested in reading Rob Biesenbach’s article, “How to introduce a speaker: 8 essential steps.” You can use your professional judgement on deciding how many of these steps are actually essential each time.

How to be strategic about public speaking

Having conquered this great way to introduce a speaker, you can also read my article on how to take a strategic approach to public speaking.

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