As a speaker, I’ve been introduced a thousand times, and I can confidently say that most didn’t really help. Usually they simply print out my bio from philcooke.com and read it. Trust me, a bio on a website isn’t meant to be a live introduction, so it comes off slow and boring. The worst don’t do any homework at all, and make embarrassing mistakes that are hard to fix. So after being subjected to so many horrible speaker intros, here’s a few tips that will help your introduction be as interesting as the speaker:
1. Don’t read a printed speaker biography. Printed bios are long and too detailed to be used in a live event. Plus, reading a bio tells the audience you don’t know the speaker, and don’t care enough to do your homework.
2. Keep perspective. People have come to hear the speaker, not the introduction. Chances are, they already know him or her, so you don’t need to tell the speaker’s life story. Plus, if the speaker’s biography is printed in the conference program, that’s another reason you don’t need to rehash it.
3. Understand the context. Why is this speaker the perfect fit for THIS conference?
4. Prepare. A great introduction is done from memory, not read off a card.
5. Be careful with humor. Everyone loves a good joke, but never forget how often humor can backfire and make you look like an idiot.
6. Avoid hype. People who introduce speakers often feel the need to generate excitement and enthusiasm. That’s the speaker’s job. People see through hype, so don’t be a cheerleader – just introduce the speaker.
7. Keep it short. There are really only a few points a good introduction needs to answer: 1) The topic or issue for today. 2) The importance of the issue. 3) Why is this speaker the person to bring insight on this issue?
In my experience, the vast percentage of introductions actually hurt the speaker instead of helping. If you’re introducing a speaker, give the audience just enough information to make them want to pay attention.
The speaker – and the audience – will be remarkably grateful. What’s the worst introduction you’ve ever experienced?