Your introduction sets the tone of the speech, creates a sense of anticipation, positions you as the expert, generates interest and grabs attention, yet so many people flop when introducing themselves or their guests. Whether you are introducing your guest at a club meeting, presenting the speaker at an awards banquet or meeting forty strangers for the first time, the introduction is the tool that makes the difference. A good introduction doesn't happen by chance. Planning your introduction will give you results.
Every professional belongs to a networking group where they stand and introduce themselves. Instead of using the same "speech" every meeting, create several 30-second introductions, also known as the "elevator speech" tailored to the group. For example, if you sell insurance and you are introducing yourself at the "Classic Car Club", then your introduction should mention that you insure classic cars. If you are a banker and you are in front of small business owners, mention the SBA loans you have available. In other words, find out something specific about the group and how you can serve them, and make that evident in your introduction.
The biggest mistake is stage hogging. It's ok to make a statement about an upcoming event but it shouldn't take up more than a few extra seconds. If you have several announcements, spare the details and bring along brochures or flyers. Let the group know that they can get more information after the meeting. Or, ask the emcee to make the announcements before introductions begin.
Introducing your guest
Don't leave it to chance when you bring a guest. There is no better opportunity for a guest to shine than when you strategically formulate an introduction showcasing her talents. Various components for this type of introduction include the following:
A.Name of your guest
B.Their company name
C.A short vignette or story to anchor the points
D.Something relevant to the audience
E.A special recognition or award received
F.Something in the news that is relevant to their business
For example, I invited Stacy a friend and business associate as a guest to a business club in which I belong. The members in this organization are decision makers or business owners who could use Stacy's product, or were in a position to refer Stacy to other businesses. Rather than randomly introducing Stacy and reciting the name of her company, I specifically mentioned that last May Stacy lost her home in the tornado that destroyed her community and from that experience she created two businesses to protect business owners and home owners. I gave a short introduction about how insurance professionals and CPA's can recommend the product to their clients.
This statement gained the immediate attention of the group and gave them an anchor to remember her by.
Then I strategically mentioned the name of her business and explained that she "databases" the contents of your home or business so that you are protected before the theft, fire or storm.
Then to add some validation, I mentioned that Stacy's business had been recently highlighted on the local news channel and in 417 Magazine, which added to Stacy's credibility.
Mentioning this magazine that is read by most everyone in the audience will have people noticing and remembering her information well after the meeting, or perhaps looking up the information later. Add to the fact that it was the month of April which is tornado season in the Ozarks and the fact that many of the professionals in the audience were insurance professionals, CPA's and other business owners Stacy had several business cards handed out to her with a request for a follow up.
If you can plan ahead of time, write out your guest's introduction and check off the components listed above to see how many you can incorporate in a thirty second introduction.
Introducing the Speaker
Some of the same rules apply when introducing the speaker at an awards banquet or seminar. It is your responsibility as the introducer to make sure the speaker has a planned intro. The worst introducers are those that rely on fond feelings and memories to make the introduction. A prepared introduction sets the stage and lets the audience know who the speaker is and what topic he is speaking on.
A formal introduction for a speaker shouldn't be much longer than one minute. Give the speaker's credentials and other meaningful information, and don't build the speaker up so much that he is a let down to the audience. Leave out the things that aren't pertinent to the audience. For example, if your speaker is talking to Chess enthusiasts, it won't matter that he climbed Mt. Everest unless he played a game of chess when he got to the top.
Talk to the speaker a few days in advance to see what is necessary for preparation. Interview the speaker and use the "TIP" formula (Topic, Importance to the audience, and Personal information) to create your outline. The reason the TIPS formula works well is that you want to start out with the topic. Why? Because that information answers the "what's in it for me" question on the mind of every audience member. Once that question has been answered, the audience wants to know why it is important to them and then they want to know why that particular speaker has the credibility to speak to them. It makes for a much more logical and interesting introduction that the usual listing of credentials before the audience knows what the speaker has to say.
Most professional speakers come prepared with a written introduction, and may already have someone in mind to do the introduction. If that happens to be you, make sure you have rehearsed the introduction and know how to pronounce every word, including the correct pronunciation of the speaker's name.
The second to worst kind of introduction is from the person who hasn't practiced reading the intro. Stick to your script. Don't adlib or give away additional information. For example, if your speaker is going to do a magic act and wants it to be a surprise, you might blow it if you suddenly decide to mention his magic tricks in your introduction. Always ask permission from the speaker if you are going to vary from his script. Doing otherwise means you steal his thunder and disappoint the audience.