By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP
Before you deliver a speech—whether it’s a conference keynote, a presentation to the board of directors, or a sales pitch to a new client—someone else usually will prepare the audience for your appearance. This introduction may be as simple as saying your name before you take the stage or as elaborate as a five-minute narrative with an accompanying video.
Never assume your introducer will get your introduction right! I’ve had introducers mispronounce my name, company, and/or credentials. Some have even tried to “wing it,” and you might be surprised at how far off the mark some introducers can be. To prevent personal embarrassment and to make sure your audience understands why you belong behind the podium, follow these tips to keep your introducer on target:
1. Send your introduction early on. Your introducer can’t establish your identity and credibility for the audience without the proper facts. So send a written introduction and a current brochure touting your experience and services well in advance.Your introduction should include:
2. Make it stand out. Print your written introduction on brightly colored paper. That way, the introducer can quickly find it when it’s needed.
3. Don’t agree to let the introducer “wing it.” At the risk of offending your introducer, ask her specifically notto ad-lib your introduction. Adding a personal story might be fine, but ask for a quick summary of the proposed off-the-cuff comments, so you can check for appropriateness.
4. Meet just before the speech. It’s always a good idea to meet with your client or meeting organizers prior to your speech to make sure they have your facts straight. Read through any difficult parts together, even if you’ve spelled out the pronunciation.The more your introduction is practiced in advance, the smoother it will sound—and the better off you all are.
5. Always bring a fresh copy. Have on hand a clean copy of your introduction, printed in large type, in case your introducer forgets hers. I presented at an event where the emcee fell ill the night before, leaving the task of my introduction to her assistant, who didn’t have a copy. Checking in with those in charge can save you from a last-minute introduction to disaster.
Off on the Right Foot
Beyond avoiding potential embarrassment, having your introducer carry a little of the load can save you valuable time by quickly establishing your qualifications and credentials. A good introduction also can make you seem a bit more modest if the emcee sings your praises instead of you doing so yourself, while setting the tone for your presentation and generating an expectant attitude among the audience members.
Of course, all this assumes the introducer does the job right. A bad intro can maim or even ruin your speech by misstating the facts, damaging your credibility, and/or confusing the audience. Your introducer is basically kicking off your speech; make sure it’s done right, because your introducer is crucial to the success of your talk.
Laura Stack is an expert in productivity. For more than 20 years, her speeches have helped entrepreneurs, leaders, teams, and organizations improve output, lower stress, and save time at work and in life. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides time management workshops around the globe that help attendeesachieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time. An expert in the field of performance and workplace issues, Stack is theauthor of many books, most recently “What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do.” Connect with her at http://www.TheProductivityPro.com; http://www.facebook.com/productivitypro; or twitter.com/laurastack.