A good introduction is essential to get a speaker off to a good start. The tendency for event hosts to go casual and say a few non-substantive words — or worse, to try to make a joke at the speaker’s expense — hurts both the speaker and the meeting. Here’s why, and how to give a good intro that will help the speaker — and the event — succeed.
Audiences want several things from a speaker, and some of them right away. First, audiences begin by asking why — why should I pay attention? Why should I care? Why is this going to be important to me? If a speaker is successful, the audience will start asking how — how do I get started? How do I make this my own? That’s success for a speaker — moving the audience from why to how.
Second, audiences test speakers for a few things: trust, credibility, likability. On these items, they’ll give a speaker a little time, but they make unconscious decisions very quickly, and those unconscious decisions are hard to turn around. So it’s better to get it right from the start.
That’s where the introduction comes in. An introduction can help answer the why question. And an introduction can help establish credibility, especially, but also trust and likability. The result of a good introduction is to greatly increase the likelihood that the speaker will do well. At least, she’s off to a good start.
A good introduction should answer 3 questions
A good introduction should answer 3 questions: why this speaker, on this subject, to this audience? A little humor is permitted, but an introduction should never denigrate the speaker, even in fun. The idea is to build the speaker up in the audience’s mind.
As an example, here’s a short introduction I provide for my own speaking engagements
Here at XXXXXXX, we live and die by our communications successes and failures. So it is with special excitement that I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Nick Morgan to our annual gathering. Nick is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear on the Today Show, and to take on the investment community. His latest book, Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma, was published by Jossey-Bass last year. And he has one of the best blogs on communications.
Have you ever wondered why you can’t take your eyes off some charismatic public figures, while others put you immediately to sleep? Nick is going to demystify charisma and storytelling for us today, giving us lots of practical ideas we can immediately put to work when we’re back in the office on Monday…
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Nick Morgan!