Bah! Humbug. Time for a Scrooge-y post about speaker and honoree introductions. You've been warned. There's one sure-fire way to put a damper on an otherwise solid event and that's bad introductions. The worst offender is introductions that a read from a raft of bios that are already printed in the event program. By the third or fourth person, side conversations break out in the audience, audible sighs let out and eyes rolled (hopefully) imperceptibly. And it's not just the audience who suffers. As a speaker, I always feel like the introducer is dialing it in if they just read what's been sent out in the event email and printed in the event program. It doesn't take much to do better.
4 tips for making introductions
- Share your perspective. Explain why you're excited this person is being honored or to hear what s/he has to say. Talk about something they've done that's impressed or effected you directly. And when in doubt, ask the person directly. Show your enthusiasm and respect.
- Quote the speaker/honoree. I was recently introduced by someone who shared some things I'd written in articles, on this blog and on Twitter about the topic of the day. This was fun way to establish my cred, hint at take-aways, and get the audience ready to go. You can also do this with honorees and speakers who aren't published by asking them for a few key points about themselves, like words to live by, a surprising fact, their most important lesson learned, etc.
- Set the stage. Tell us why this speaker/honoree was chosen in your own words and why we should care--in your own words or through comments of others. Anything but a direct reading from the stock bio. What has this person done to merit this honor or speaking slot? How has s/he earned it? Help the audience get revved up about the value of the session.
- Punt. This really only works with speaker introductions: If you're not comfortable with the previous ideas, cut to the chase with something like this: "You came to see Becca. I came to see Becca. So, I'm going to turn the mic over to Becca Jones, author of Better Introductions."
What are your favorite ways to introduce an honoree or speaker? What have you seen that's worth replicating?