A well-executed introduction establishes a speaker's credibility, piques the interest of the audience, and creates an environment for an impactful speech. The following tips will help you confidently introduce a speaker at your next event.
Guidelines for the introducer:
- Add your own flair. Including your own personal experience with the speaker makes a powerful impact. For example, "I first heard Julie Jones speak 5 years ago and I have been following her blog, along with her professional words of wisdom ever since."
- Double-check the pronunciation of the speaker's name and company. If you think this step is a no-brainer, just ask John Travolta, who mangled the name of singer Idina Menzel before she sang "Let It Go," live at the 2014 Academy Awards. Spell names out phonetically (fo-NET-ically) so that anyone can easily step in and pronounce everything properly in your absence. Make no assumptions; many names have variable pronunciations - for example, Stephan can be pronounced "STEE-ven" or "Stef-AN."
- Practice your delivery. Just as the speaker should avoid reading their speech word for word, the emcee should carefully rehearse their introduction in order to deliver a seamless and conversational overview of what's to come.
- Anticipate the speaker's needs. Does the speaker want to stand at a podium or walk freely across the stage? Do they require a lapel microphone or a hand-held? Do they prefer a bottle of soda or a glass of water? Attention to every detail gives a speaker the ultimate environment for success.
- Lay the ground rules. Will there be an opportunity to ask questions? If so, how will questions be accepted - will the speaker take questions from the stage, written down and collected, or will an assistant with a microphone roam the floor?
- Keep it brief. Let the presenter deliver the information; the emcee's job is to generate excitement, not give away the speaker's key points.
And a few guidelines for the speaker:
- Prepare your own introduction. As the presenter, send ahead a short bio with key points and a few career highlights. Follow up with an email or phone call to ask if they have any questions about pronunciations. This will encourage the introducer to take a look at your intro prior to the day of the event.
- Print a backup. Be armed with a hard copy of the introduction you previously emailed. Often times the person introducing you may forget to bring the introduction. Your own copy will serve as an extra form of reinforcement to the introducer when you go over specific points you would like for him or her to highlight.
- Do a technology run through. Arrive early and do your own microphone check. Make sure all presentation files are connected to a screen and ready to go with the click of a button. You don't want to start the show on someone else's laptop only to be stuck without the password as the audience waits. When using your own laptop, make sure calendar reminders, email notifications, anti-virus software alerts, etc. are turned off to avoid distractions and embarrassment.