• Bob Ewing

Checklist for Introducing Speakers



“The aim is to make this audience want to hear this speaker on this subject.”

~ Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking



Speeches of introduction deserve thoughtful preparation. There are three goals they should achieve:


  • CREDIBILITY: Establish the speaker’s expertise.

  • ENTHUSIASM: Get the audience excited for the speaker and topic.

  • RELEVANCE: Clarify how the topic relates to the audience.


These guidelines will help ensure you achieve all three goals and crush your speeches of introduction:

RESEARCH

  • Begin early. Give yourself time.

  • Gather more content than you plan to use:

  • Key ideas and stories related to the topic.

  • How the topic is connected to the audience.

  • The speaker's background, qualifications, connection to topic, connection to host/you, any relevant surprising insights.

  • Clarify why this audience should care.


ORGANIZE

  • Pull your content together into a coherent structure.

  • Dale Carnegie suggested using the T-I-S Formula for organizing introductory remarks:

  • T -- Topic: Begin with the talk’s title. Then quickly explain the topic.

  • I -- Importance: Connect the topic to the audience. Make it clear why the audience should care.

  • S -- Speaker: Ham up the speaker, highlighting key and relevant qualifications. End by stating the speaker’s name.

  • Other experts suggest this order:

  • Speaker

  • Topic

  • Importance

  • Test them both. Get creative. Decide what works best for you.


ACCURATE

  • Be 100% certain that everything in you'll say is true.

  • Consider showing the speaker (or the speaker’s assistant) your remarks in advance. At least your bullet points.

  • Make sure you are saying the speaker’s name correctly. If there’s any chance the name has an unusual or difficult pronunciation, get clarification in advance.


BRIEF

  • Trim your content down to key highlights.

  • Shoot for a minute. No more than two.

  • If you’re close to three minutes, cut your remarks in half.


PERSONALIZED

  • Adapt to the occasion:

  • Formal settings call for a more formal introduction.

  • For informal settings be casual and speak from the heart.

  • Consider how best to make the speaker feel comfortable:

  • Avoid anything that could be embarrassing.

  • Don’t create expectations that are impossible to meet.


PRACTICE

  • Run at least five full reps in advance.

  • Get to the point you feel comfortable delivering your remarks without looking at your notes.


EXTEMPORANEOUS

  • Do not print up a website bio and read it from the stage!

  • Speak in a conversational tone. A primary goal is to establish the author’s credibility. This doesn’t work if you’re reading your remarks.

  • As you’ll stay brief and know your content and structure well in advance, you can focus on speaking in your own words in a sincere way.

  • I’ve seen a popular Nobel Laureate give a speech to a friendly audience. We all had to politely wait while the introductory remarks droned on in pedantic detail. They were read from sheets of paper -- with many words butchered -- to a crowd that already knew the speaker’s accomplishments and topic quite well. This is precisely the approach to avoid.


EYES UP

  • Look at the audience the whole time. You’re only speaking for a minute or two.

  • Use your eye contact and enthusiasm to help get the audience’s attention and build their excitement.


DRAMATIC

  • Have at least one impressive and relevant anecdote that you drive home.

  • Save the speaker’s name for your final words.

  • Pause before saying the name, ensuring the audience feels the climax.


And when you are being introduced, set yourself up for success. Send along a suggested outline or bullet points. Make sure the person introducing you gets a copy. This will significantly increase the odds they build your credibility, get your audience excited, and drive home why your topic matters.


For more, see #33: The speech most likely to get botched.