Please welcome our next speaker. He’s one of the funniest people I know!

I sincerely hope this type of introduction hasn’t happened to you.

By the time you have gathered your thoughts at the lectern, the audience are silently taunting you … ‘ok wise guy, make me laugh!’

A more common and equally uninspiring introduction is when conference organisers somehow get hold of your CV. Now as you sit waiting for your turn to speak, the MC starts to read your CV … WORD FOR WORD

… aaaaghhh!

By the time walk on to the stage, the audience have just heard your life history. Is it any wonder they now expect you to be wearing your underpants on the outside of your trousers, a bright red cape and a big S on the front of your shirt! Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. What do you want to hear about the speaker?

A great way to structure an introduction is to respond to three basic questions

•  What’s in it for the audience if they listen?
•  Why is this person qualified to talk to this audience on this topic?
•  Who is this person … why should the audience like him or her?

Rule number one …

Write your own introduction and get it to the conference organisers, before they invent their own.
However a word of caution, supplying a well worded introduction ahead of time, may encourage the organisers to use this in the conference programme, along with a picture they have found of you (taken 25 years ago!)

So ask if they require two forms of introduction … one for the programme and one for the MC. This way you can make sure that the MC doesn’t simply repeat what’s in the programme …  and the programme message doesn’t dilute the impact of MC’s introduction.

Have you got a recent photograph?

A simple formula … for a powerful introduction.

1.  Tell them the value

2.  Tell them why you

3.  Tell them you’re human

4.  Tell them your name

Here’s an example of how this works

Tell them the value

Ladies and Gentlemen, over the past few weeks our electricity in Cape Town has failed and industry profits have tumbled as a result. Whilst Government and Energy Officials squabble over who is to blame … it appears that the blackouts have created a positive spin … industry has gone looking for energy saving ideas.

Our next speaker believes that by making the right decisions today, most companies could save up to 30% of their power costs in just 12 months. These savings translate directly into greater profits.

Tell them why you

Having worked in energy projects in Australia, Iceland and most recently in Zimbabwe, our next speaker understands how to conserve precious resources in both harsh climatic and economic conditions. Her advice to industry and the Governments in these countries, has resulted in annual energy savings that would equate to providing food for a 1 million people living below the poverty line, for over 20-years

Tell them you’re human

Whilst she is an expert on energy resources … you may be interested to know that she almost didn’t make this morning’s conference … because her car had a flat battery!

Tell them your name

Ladies and Gentlemen … please welcome Dr Cynthia Manyathi

Grab their positive attention …

By opening with the value the audience will derive from the presentation, you grab their positive attention. There are many ways to achieve this. The easiest is to state the most significant benefit the audience will gain through listening to the presentation.

You could also open by provoking the audience’s curiosity
‘ … have you wondered what the real reasons are behind the recent spate of electricity blackouts in Cape Town? Our next speaker has unearthed enough information to have the top 100 CEO’s in this country all fired! ‘

The audience want to know your experience … not simply your credentials.

The fact that you graduated in 1985, have a Masters degree in Nuclear Physics, enjoy stamp collecting and have written and delivered numerous papers on the mating habits of the Red Admiral Butterfly, could be enough to put your audience into a deep coma. What they need to hear is recent and relevant experience that qualifies you to talk on this topic. Keep it short … keep it simple.

Ditch the superman outfit …

Even if you leave out your long list of qualifications, hobbies and interests, briefly referring to your experience will tend to put you on pedestal, in the eyes of your audience. Once up there, it’s human nature to look for any flaws in your knowledge or personality that could bring you back down to earth. So do it for them … with a simple anecdote or story that makes you human … and likeable!

Add a bit of showbiz …

Holding the speakers name right to the end adds a bit of showbiz magic … creating a big build up. Think about how actors are introduced at the Oscars. But there is another reason. How often have you heard the MC build an introduction to the point where the speaker’s name is announced  … only to then continue with the introduction (usually an anti-climax from this point). The problem is that the speaker usually thinks this is the cue to begin walking up to lectern, gets part way there and is now forced to wait (in full view of the audience), whilst the introduction continues. By only announcing the speakers name right at the end, you create a definite cue for the speaker … which also becomes everyone else’s cue (lighting, sound, music, video recording, etc.)

On a final note

Tell the MC, if they mention that you wrote your own introduction, you will personally make sure they have a slow and painful death!

‘… I’d like to introduce you to our next speaker … he’s one of the most organised people I know.‘

© Paul Tomes 2014

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