Why is a good speech introduction important?
As an audience we ask silent questions each time someone comes onscreen or onstage to speak.
Why should I pay attention? Is this going to be important to me? Why should I care?
Here are two introductions for an educational speaker at a Toastmasters meeting.
‘Our next speaker is Tessa Talkworthy. Tessa’s presentation is entitled ‘Organise your Speech’. Please welcome Tessa.’
So what? You don’t know who Tessa is, she could be someone that was just dragged in off the street for all you know. Why should you bother to spend your precious time to listening to her?
But how about if I said something like:
Here at Toastmasters, we live and die by our communications skills. So it is with special excitement that I’m pleased to welcome our next presenter. This lady is one of our top speakers. She is a regular speaker at fundraising events for the Home for Three Legged Dogs and Cats and she hosts a Friday chat show – Don’t be Bitter, Save the Critter! She’s given numerous educational presentations at Toastmasters clubs and seminars. One of her specialities is creating educational videos and she is a Past President of Speakers of Croydon.
This evening her mission is to show us how to organise an engaging speech. I know she will have lots of great ideas that we can immediately put to work to enhance our assignments.
With a presentation entitled ‘Organise your Speech’ please join me in welcoming Ms Tessa Talkworthy!
With my first introduction I probably succeeded in turning you off. I certainly did Tessa a great disservice. Let me tell you this type of introduction happens all the time at Toastmasters and it’s just not good enough.
On my second go I established Tessa’s credibility to present to us with authority. I gave you reasons to listen. A good introduction should make the speaker feel appreciated too.
Here are 5 Top Tips for a great Speech Introduction
1.Research your speaker
I would recommend contacting the speaker beforehand. You could certainly use the internet and a platform like Linked In is useful for discovering people’s achievements. You could talk to a person’s friends or colleagues as this might throw up an interesting personal story. Once you know what a speaker has done with their life you are setting yourself up for a compelling and pertinent introduction
- contact the speaker beforehand.
- use the internet
- talk to a person’s friends or colleagues
2. Keep it short
A minute or so is usually enough although you may be given more time. Check the meeting agenda before you start to see how much time you have.
Remember the focus of your speech is the speaker not yourself so don’t ramble on about things that have no relevance to them.
You can briefly mention the topic they are speaking on but it is the speakers’ job to explore the subject. Don’t pre-empt their speech.
- One minute is usually enough
- Focus on the speaker and make them feel appreciated
3. Save the speakers name for the end
A good introduction builds up expectation. So don’t mention the speakers name too early on, even though the audience may already know. The last word of your intro is the cue for applause and it’s good to use the speaker’s name at this point.
- Remember to include the title of their speech.
4. Lead the applause
As soon as you have finished your introduction you should start the applause yourself. It creates a great welcome if you smile and clap your speaker onto the stage. This is slightly different on Zoom but extremely important in a live venue.
- Start applauding as soon as you’ve finished
- Shake the speaker’s hand as you leave the stage (if applicable)
Your delivery and manner can really light up an introduction. Take time to practice. Although you are the introducer rather than the speaker you have stage time so it’s vital to create a good impression of yourself. Communicate with as much impact as you can. Do make sure you can pronounce your speaker’s name correctly.
- Practice with a video or mirror and time yourself
- Check you can pronounce the speakers name correctly
As introducer It’s your job to set the stage to create maximum impact for the speaker. And that is exactly why a good speech introduction is so important.
An introduction IS a short speech. Make the most of this opportunity. It’s only by taking time to research, rehearse and deliver that you will do justice to both the speaker and to yourself!
By Trudy Kuhn- SoC VPE