Margot Lester & Tod Moy at SXSW

Presenters are happy when you give them a good introduction.

Can we all just agree that reading introductions is boring -- and a waste of time if the emcee uses the exact same bio sent with the invitation, on the event web page, in the hand-outs, etc.?

I've given five talks in the last two weeks and attended three by others. Most of the time, the person handling introductions reads dryly from the stock bio, which almost everyone present has read already. This slows down the event and doesn't get anyone really excited about what's next.

This is a wasted opportunity. Instead of blandly reading material most of the audience is already familiar with, try one or more of these tips:

  1. Make it personal. Take a moment to engage with the audience. Talk about why you're excited to hear what this person has to say. If you're a friend or colleague of the person, share an anecdote. Show your enthusiasm about this guest.
  2. Provide context. Give us some context on why s/he's on the dais and why we should care beyond what's in the stock bio. Why is this speaker the best person for the job? Help the audience get revved up about the value of the session.
  3. Quote them. 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.
  4. State the obvious. If you're not comfortable with the previous ideas, that doesn't mean your only option is reading the bio. Instead, cut to the chase with something like this: "You obviously came here to see Al, not me, so without further ado, I'll turn the mic over to Al Smith, author of Better Introductions." Get the party started.

What have I missed? What are some other ways to introduce speakers that don't involve reading bios? Please share. The audiences of the world are depending on us!