How to Introduce a Speaker
Most of the posts on the blog are designed to enhance the preparation or delivery elements for your own speech or presentation. But what about when you are asked to introduce another speaker?
There are many personal, academic and professional circumstances that call for a guest speaker. If you are ever in the position of introducing guest speakers, then it will help you to know how to deliver your introductions in a way that is informative, entertaining and easy to understand.
This post outlines a series of practical tips for how to professionally introduce a speaker so that you position them with the best possible chance to succeed.
1) Research the Speaker
First of all, get to know the speaker. Google them. Ask others about them. Research the speaker and their expertise until you are excited by the opportunity to introduce them.
Talk to the speaker in advance of the event. Find out what he or she is talking about and why it has relevance to the audience. Learn as much as you can about the speaker’s experience, education, life, interests, and accomplishments.
2) Plan the Outline
Next plan what you are going to say, and write out (and edit) the introduction in full. Your primary goal is to prepare the audience and get them excited for what they are about to hear. To do this, you must answer these three core questions:
- What is the topic?
- Why is this topic important for this audience?
- Why is the speaker qualified to deliver this talk?
This approach is adopted from the TIS method by No Sweat Public Speaking
Explain in your own words why the person was chosen to speak.
It is the speaker’s job to decide how and when they reveal their outline. Keep the intro at a high level, unless the speaker has specifically asked you to do otherwise. Avoid giving too many details about the speech, telling anecdotes from the speech, or making promises about details in the presentation.
3) Memorise the Intro
Try to memorise the introduction; speaking without notes will add to your authority, and the audience in turn will be more interested in hearing what the speaker has to say.
If you are unable to memorise the entire introduction, then use as few notes as you can. At a minimum, be sure you can you deliver the last sentence of your introduction without notes as this will maximise momentum for the speaker.
4) Review and Rehearse
When you are satisfied with the introduction yourself, check it with the speaker, and make sure they are happy with the approach.
Then practice the introduction several times.
5) Keep the Intro Brief
Nobody attends an event to listen to the introducer go on and on. Long introductions filled with biographical details are boring. Sixty or ninety seconds is usually ample time for an introduction. Considering that the average person speaks 100 words per minute, that’s only 100-150 words. For really long presentations (e.g. keynote addresses) two or three minutes may be warranted.
6) Stay Positive & Enthusiastic
If you are genuinely positive and enthusiastic about the speaker, the audience will be too. Smile enthusiastically as you welcome the speaker on stage.
7) Build to a Climax
Your vocal delivery should build towards the end of your introduction. By doing so the audience will be compelled to welcome the speaker with loud applause. One effective way to do this is to end with the speaker’s name and explicitly encourage applause:
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our guest speaker, Joe Bloggs!
Always deliver this last part by looking directly at the audience. Finally, lead the applause by clapping your hands.
8) Welcome the Speaker
After you have delivered your introduction wait until the speaker arrives at the lectern and shake their hand. Shaking another person’s hand is grounding and comforting, and will help the speaker get off to a good start.