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How to Introduce a Speaker

by Harwant Khush, PhD, Research Consultant, Tero International


Proficiency in introducing a speaker is a vital communication skill to be effective in one's professional and public life. Executives, corporate leaders and members of professional organizations are often called upon to introduce a keynote speaker. It is assumed that an introducer would deliver an informative introduction to attract audience's attention to the speaker, to the speech topic, and familiarize audience with the speaker.

Speaker introduction is a procedural formality that an introducer performs before a speaker delivers a speech. Speakers just cannot come up to a stage and start speaking, but have to be introduced. It is based on the premise that every speaker deserves a thoughtful and helpful introduction. Properly formulated and persuasively delivered introductions help establish a bond between the speaker and the audience, enhance speaker's authority, and expertise to motivate audience to listen.

However, not all introductions live up to this standard. Introducers may feel a bit nervous and apprehensive when they are either not prepared or not sure of what to say. A good or a bad introduction can make a big difference on audience's views about the speaker, and on the effectiveness of the speech.

America's famous author and a great lecturer, Mark Twain, refused to let anyone introduce him. In his words:

Introductions were so grossly flattering that they made me ashamed, and so I began my talk at a heavy disadvantage. It was a stupid custom. There was no occasion for the introduction; the introducer was almost always an ass, and his prepared speech a jumble of vulgar compliments and dreary effort to be funny; therefore after the first season I always introduced myself... (Mark Twain's Autobiography, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1924).

Not all introductions would justify such comments. Improper introductions happen when introducer did not take time to prepare and organize the contents. Introduction was just an afterthought, hastily thrown together at the last minute with little knowledge of the speaker, the speech and of its value to the audience.

The process and procedure to introduce a speaker can be learned and improved. The objective of this paper is to provide guidelines, tips, and techniques to prepare and deliver an effective speaker introduction.

Process To Introduce A Speaker

The vital parts of the process are:

1. Plan and organize the introduction.

2. Deliver the introduction.

3. Express Thanks.

Plan and Organize the Introduction

Proper planning and organization is required beforehand. The introducer should gather these vital facts, and verify their relevance and accuracy about the speaker.


Deliver the Introduction

Writing a well-crafted introduction is only half of the job, the other half is an enthusiastic and professional delivery. An introduction is a mini-speech with the same elements as a prepared speech: Opening, Body and Conclusion.

The introducer should walk up to the lectern with enthusiasm and a smile, look at the audience, and greet them in a loud and clear voice. This is to attract the audience's attention, prompt them to listen, and to indicate that program is about to start. The introducer should project confidence, look excited, and smile frequently to make the speaker welcome. Delivery should clearly communicate that the audience is honored to have this speaker.

Opening


Body


Conclusion


Express Thanks

At the conclusion of the speech, the introducer should go back to the lectern to shake hand with the speaker, lead applause and express audience's thanks and gratitude. The introducer may provide 30 seconds worth of summary comments. These comments should have references to the following:


What Not To Include In The Introduction

To deliver a relevant and trustworthy introduction an introducer should keep in view the following particulars:

The speaker's name should not be saved until the last moment; it should be mentioned in the first couple of sentences and again repeated at the end of introduction.

Conclusion

Delivering a professional and enthusiastic speaker introduction is a challenge, but this skill can be improved with practice, and with knowledge of the fundamentals of the introduction process. Well-crafted and articulately delivered introduction would establish the authority and leadership role of the introducer and create positive environment for the success of the function.


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