I’m just asking...what would you do if you had to introduce the speaker, let's say at your big Product Launch or your next PTA Special Meeting?
I'm asking because we all know the public speaking story. Yeah...the one where even at the thought of speaking in public, beyond shouting “HELP!” scares the "bejesus" out of you.
So...would you run and hide? or would you introduce the speaker like a boss?
Let me answer that for you.
You would be a class act. Why?
Because since you're here, I'm going to give you my no-fail formula for introducing the speaker and some really hot tips that will have you begging to do the speech, rather than panicking at the thought of being asked. So stick with me.
You see, one of the types of speeches I am known for, is introducing the speaker.
I have successfully and pleasingly introduced such prominent Caribbean persons as Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, former Prime Minister of Barbados and Robert (Bobby) Morris, Ambassador to Caricom. And these were just a few.
I believe that the one big reason people don’t like to introduce the speaker is that your introduction can determine how comfortable the speaker feels about giving the speech. That means the spotlight is on you as much as it is on the speaker.
And to add to your discomfort, there are not many good examples of such speeches.
We've all seen the introductions which are too long, really boring and often have the poor speakers squirming in their seats.
Then there're those that go overboard and introduce the speaker in such glowing terms, they begin to wonder if they should escape while they can.
So how can we fix that?
First, I will give you a “no fail” format for introducing the speaker that will help build your confidence even before you speak. But I won't leave you hanging there, I will walk you through a fun example to show you exactly how it works. Then I will support these with some “Dos” and some “Don’ts” to wrap it all up for you.
I promise you if you follow these, before you know it, you will be able to introduce the speaker like a boss!
A no-fail format you can use to introduce the speaker
This format is the basic one I teach and “Marie” has describe it as "an invaluable tool in her role as President of her church’s Women’s Committee."
- Discuss why this speaker?
- Answer why this topic?
- Share why this audience?
- Be clear why at this time?
- Present the speaker
A worked example:
Warning: In the following worked example, while Mr Bates actually exists, Mr Salters is purely the output of my imagination.
The attention-getter should do exactly what it is meant to do - get the attention of your audience and make then sit up and want to hear more about the speaker. For example:
According to American Zoologist Marston Bates "Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind."
This is a preview of what the topic is about and who the speaker is:
This evening, we will hear the latest findings of "The Role of The Salt Shaker In Reducing Our Salt Intake and it’s no “up the alley” research. Our speaker, Mr Kosher C. Salters is an experienced filler of salt shakers and owner of no less than 60 such shakers.
Discuss why this speaker
This is where you share more about the speaker especially why he or she is the right person to speak on the topic:
Mr Salters has just completed 3 years of research into how to place rice grains in a salt shaker cross way. His findings have been widely reported in many popular publications and have aroused the interest of large segments of the society.
Answer why this topic
Don't take for granted that everyone in the audience knows why the topic is so important that you had to invite someone to speak on it. So it's at this point that you tell them why:
As you are aware, the reduction in the national intake of salt, by any means possible, has been a topic of intense national debate. This is especially so, since the Minister with the portfolio for salt discovered that Lot’s wife, who looked like his wife, was turned into a pillar of salt, when she "looked back."
Share why this audience
This is the part that is missing from most introductions. If you remember, introductions are a 2-way street but in most formal introductions it's inclined to go just one way. Therefore, what you're actually doing here is introducing the audience to the speaker:
We in the audience, consisting mainly of parents, cooks and suckers of salt, are anxious to learn as much as we can about any new and exciting salt research, especially if it can help us shake our salt habits.
Be clear about why at this time
It really helps the speaker to be reminded that his or her topic is important to a particular group of people:
Salt and the salt shaker have always been exciting topics. With our up-coming annual conference, and our president taking part in a radio show called “Looking Back”, she is paranoid that she could suffer the same fate as Lot’s wife.
Now you pull it all together, just before you present the speaker, by giving us a review of summary of all that you have said:
Here to give us some specific suggestion on how to reduce our salt intake is one of the country’s foremost collector and filler of salt shakers. His subject is important to us in many areas of our lives and his research could help us shake the salt habit very quickly...
Present the speaker
And then you present the speaker. This is when you show the most enthusiasm in your voice and in your body language:
Ladies and Gentleman, the Owner and Filler of Salt Shakers and now Researcher...MR KOSHER C. SALTERS!
NB: Just remember...you do not read out the headings, I just included them to help you.
Some “DOs” of Introducing the speaker
- Remember the purpose of your speech. Your purpose is to introduce the speaker to the audience AND the audience to the speaker.
- Use your introduction to prepare the audience for the type of speech which will follow. For example, if the speech is on hurricane preparedness, use your introduction to settle the audience into a serious mood.
- Know your speech well - but don’t learn it by heart! Because you’re introducing the speaker, the audience will believe that you know him well, so you have to sound natural. Apart from that, you are the bridge between him and the audience.
- Get a bio from the speaker however well you think you know her. In addition, do double-check key facts on the day of the event. Nothing threatens a speaker’s cool like having to correct information before she speaks.
- Include only information that is relevant to the topic of the speaker, however much details she gives you. Who she is married to or the name of her dog is not relevant to her speech on open heart surgery.
- Remember, the introduction speech is like any other speech - it must have an opening, a body and a conclusion. No preamble...pre-ramble...beg-me-to-stop...kinda thing! Most of all, please don’t forget the body language, vocal variety, eye contact and all the other symbols which enhance your delivery.
- Keep your introduction short – 5 minutes, maximum. YES! I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to listen to an introduction which was longer than the speech it was introducing! No lie.
Some “DONTs” when you introduce the speaker
You MUST not...you hear me...you must not...
- Use your introduction to go off on a tangent or to show how well you know the speaker. This is not the time to reminisce about how you had to show the speaker how to blow up a balloon.
- Give the speaker’s speech for him. This happens when you have some knowledge of or interest in the topic and unwittingly (or maliciously!) feel you have to demonstrate how much you know during the introduction.
- Build up the speaker’s skill as a speaker. Very often, people are chosen to speak because of their knowledge on a topic. Therefore, they may have difficulty living up to “excellent speaking ability”.
- Use humor unless you are very sure it is appropriate and the speaker can handle it. Joking about the time the speaker had too much to drink and accepted a bribe to take off his clothes, is a story for the bar.
- Forget the speaker’s name. Yes! It has happened. And while you’re at it, don’t mispronounce it either. Write it several times, say it aloud 11 times, do whatever it takes to stick it in your head.
- Save the Speaker’s name for last! Unless you intend to present the speaker as a surprise, don’t wait until the end of the speech to call his name. Your role when you introduce the speaker is to make the speaker’s name familiar to the audience, not hide it. Chances are, the audience might have read it on the program or in the newspaper, anyhow!
Your next steps when you introduce the speaker...
So there you have it! A no-fail format for introducing the speaker, complete with a worked example!
And just to make sure it's truly fail proof, I threw in some "dos" and some "dont's" for good measure.
Being able to introduce a speaker in a way which makes him or her feel comfortable and confident to present their speech, is probably one of the most rewarding speaking opportunities you can have. It's right up there with the Vote of Thanks.
So whether you’re now starting on your speaking journey or you’re somewhere down the path, use this information to really improve your next introduction.
And don't forget that when you master how to introduce the speaker, you have taken one more step towards reducing your fear of public speaking.
So please take the information and the format and use them to introduce your next speaker...
To your hot introductions...