If you have ever been asked to introduce someone to a large group you know how nerve-wracking it can be trying to come up with the right things to say. The purpose of the introduction is to highlight the speaker and explain who he or she is, what they will be speaking about and why he or she is addressing this particular topic.
This past week I served as Toastmaster (emcee) of our club meeting. I am working toward my Advanced Toastmaster Gold Award and one of the projects in the “Specialty Speeches” manual requires me to introduce the speaker for the meeting. Here are some things I learned about introducing a speaker.
Telling who the speaker is requires more than reading a list of facts about his or her education and accomplishments. If the speaker is well-known, that list may be very long and boring. Highlight the items you feel is most interesting and has the most association with the topic the speaker will present, then expand on a couple of events in the speaker’s career that the audience may most appreciate. Give a personal story about some charity work the speaker has done in the community or give a funny anecdote about him or her that helps the audience feel like they already know the speaker.
You should know in advance the topic the speaker will talk about. You don’t want to give away the entire speech but do touch on the relevance that this topic has to the audience. This will peak their curiosity and gain their interest. If you have read or heard a quote by the speaker that is relevant to the audience, use it to get their attention. For example, “Today’s speaker once said, ‘I’m not sure if it is the music or the guests that keeps people listening to my show, but at least they do come back for more!'”
Give the audience an indication as to why this speaker was chosen to present the particular topic. If your audience is a group of parents of teenagers, your speaker may be an educator, a psychologist, or a parent who has raised teenagers. Bring out the reasons why this speaker is qualified to speak on the subject. Perhaps he or she served time in a detention center as a teenager and has inside information to share with parents who have troubled teens.
Organize your introduction as you would any other speech. Have a good opening that makes people laugh, or sit up and take notice. Ask a question or call for a show of hands in response to a scenario you pose. Make it correspond to the topic the speaker will present. Then, have a body with two or three points that cover the “who, what and why” questions above. When you have given the introduction, wrap it up by summarizing in one sentence such as, “Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a lady who has been there and done that and is here to tell us why we shouldn’t, please help me welcome Mrs. Edwina Smith.” You should start the applause and allow the audience to follow your cue. Stay at the lectern until the speaker arrives, then shake her or his hand and step away.
Your introduction should be entertaining and informational. If you have done your job well, the speaker will probably acknowledge your comments before he or she begins to speak. The audience will be ready to listen and receptive to the speaker. Just for the heck of it, when you are alone try introducing someone you know well. This will give you a better idea of how to put these tips into practice. Who knows when you might be asked on the spur of the moment to introduce a speaker? When it happens, don’t panic. Just take a deep breath and think, “Who, What, Why and How.”
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Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, eBooks, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles, and media releases. For more information about writing, networking, publishing, and book promotion, or to sign up for free email delivery of WITS newsletter, please visit http://www.writersinthesky.com New subscribers receive a free eBook Tips for Freelance Writing.
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