INSPIRING INTRODUCTIONS: When You Are Asked To Introduce The Speaker

Today we expand our introductions to a larger crowd. Ideally, a speech introduction should be brief and exceptionally well-planned. If you are assigned to present an introduction, your primary consideration is to inform the audience of three essential points:


1.      The speaker’s name. Enunciate the speaker’s name clearly and distinctly, especially at the very end of the introduction. If the name is unusual, find out the correct pronunciation before stage time. Call your speaker in advance and confirm the correct cadences.

Practice the name aloud. Print it phonetically so your pronunciation is seamless. Not only does this endear you to the speaker, it also helps you relax. You have accurate information plus time to practice. The speaker will appreciate your efforts to make their presentation a sensation.


2.      The speech title. The speaker’s name and speech title are typically mentioned toward the end of the introduction. The speaker’s title, as with the name, requires special emphasis.


EXAMPLE: A proper World Championship introduction sounds like: “Please welcome to the stage Christine Robinson, ‘The Empty Chair.’ ‘The Empty Chair,’ Christine Robinson.” The name comes first and last.


3.     The purpose of the speech. Is the speech one part of a larger project? A dress rehearsal for a farewell speech? An introduction to a business? Somehow always answer the audience’s unspoken question: “Why are we listening to this speaker?” Or in today’s vernacular:  WIIFM.  That’s “What’s In It For Me?”


Contact your speaker prior to the event by telephone if you can. Carve out at least fifteen minutes of get-to-know-you time and address the following questions:

·        How would this person like to be introduced? Is their preferred name “Chris” or “Christine,” “Bob” or “Robert, “Matt” or “Matthew?”

·        Is an introduction prepared for you? If so, have it sent your way to start practicing.

·        If your speaker does not have an introduction, begin by asking the objective of the presentation. What does the speaker want the audience to know?

·        Using what you know, how can you frame the presentation to your speaker’s advantage?

·        Is there a title?

·        Will the speaker require stage management prior to being introduced? Will they need help with props, moving the lectern, access to electrical outlets, or lighting?

·        “How can I be helpful?” is your best question and mindset. After all, service is its own reward.


     A verbal, one-on-one conversation creates a soothing effect for both of you. The speaker feels supported and assured you cared enough to call. Likewise, you feel calmed by the knowledge the future experience is not entirely extemporaneous. Advance investigation gives you the lay of the land.


Presenting a complete yet concise introduction can be surprisingly challenging. Deciding what to leave out is just as important as deciding what to leave in.


Putting these lessons together, here are a few more elements to consider.


What a Healthy Introduction Needs

A well-crafted introduction enhances a presentation and achieves the following:

·         Provides a smooth transition. An introduction defines the speaker's role and prepares the audience for a shift from previous activities by refocusing their interest. As an emcee, your goal is to enhance the speaker, not be the speaker.

·         Establishes the proper mindset. Audience members are more likely to appreciate a speech when given some background information about the speaker and the topic to be discussed. You set the desired mood or tone.

·         Signals the speaker’s authority. A good introduction helps establish the speaker’s expertise or background on the subject.


Heed The “Don’ts”

Heed the following “Don’ts”

·        Don’t upstage the speaker. Your task is to direct attention to the speaker—not to yourself. This means eliminating any anecdotes about your own experiences, attitudes, and opinions. Like a circus ringleader, your job is to keep the fun going.

·        Don’t reveal details of the speech. An introduction should build anticipation for the upcoming speech. Leave what’s in the speech to the speaker.

·        Don’t surprise the speaker. Never include information that might embarrass the speaker or in some way distract from their message. As an introducer, you are to support the speaker and make their transition to the stage as smooth as possible.

·        Don’t save the speaker’s name for last. Unless you are introducing a mystery guest, don’t create false anticipation. Audiences are usually aware of who will be speaking.  Incorporating the person’s name once or twice before pronouncing it a final time is a far more warm and natural approach.

·        Don’t rely on clichés. Your time is much too valuable to clutter with trite phrases such as “This speaker needs no introduction.” Other worn-out expressions to avoid include “We have with us tonight…” and “Without further ado…” 


EXAMPLE:  A fine conclusion to an introduction is “Let’s put our hands together and welcome to the stage,”…. your wonderful speaker.

For more information on introductions both personal and professional, have a look at my book Confidently Speaking, The Speaker's Guide To Standing Ovations Pages 68-73.