Did you know that when you give a public speech, an average of only 3% of people are still paying attention by the second minute?
Okay, maybe that above sentence was completely false but it got your attention, didn’t it? As with a normal speech, a speech given to introduce somebody should have an “attention getter” somewhere inside of it. It doesn’t have to be something extreme like the aforementioned attention grabber, but it still should make peoples ears perk up long enough to hear who you are introducing.
Take the Time and Learn Your Speaker
If you have no idea who your speaker is and you were just handed a note card with his name on it twenty minutes ago it’s going to show. Take the time to learn everything you can about the speaker. Think back to school days when you had to present projects. You probably didn’t get a grade worth putting on the fridge when you presented on the pulmonary valve of the heart, a chapter you decided you would skip over in the textbook. Without knowing everything you can about a person, you aren’t going to be able to introduce them well.
Understand why the guest speaker was chosen for the event. At a marketing expo a guest speaker might be a CEO of a large company who has won awards for his knowledge in the field. Be sure to include something about the speakers achievements. Tell the audience why the speaker should be speaking without actually saying why he is speaking. Don’t directly say “Mr. Edmund is here because he in an expert at marketing and wants the share what he knows with us.” It is better off to go with something closer to the lines of “Mr. Edmund has contributed greatly to the field of marketing by starting at the bottom of a company of 17 employees and then making his way to the top of the same company that now has over 1100 employees! To have him here today is a privilege and an honor.” Not only does this grab your attention, it also explains why he is credible and worthy of the audience’s time.
Meet with the speaker before the day of the event and learn not only about them but about what they will be speaking about. I wouldn’t introduce osteopathic doctor without at least knowing that he works with eyes. Without having any knowledge on the speaker or their profession you will struggle to make the introduction personal and relevant.
While this is not always possible or courteous, it is a great idea to get a copy of the speakers speech before hand. This tip is better off used when you have already established a connection with the person. In some situations it would just be rude to ask for the transcript beforehand and that is going to be a judgement call that you will have to make. If you decide to ask and they decline, do not take offense to it and be as respectful as possible. Tell the speaker that you completely understand their reluctance to give you the speech beforehand.
Structure Your Speech
Just like a full length speech, your introduction should be structured. Included in your introduction should (don’t lose me here) be an introduction, body, and conclusion/closer.
When you are part of the audience at an event where someone is publicly speaking you probably don’t even give thought into the fact that someone has worked hard to prepare in introduction for the main speaker. While the person introducing a speaker is often not given the recognition he/she deserves, it is still important to fulfill your duties. Some people might take a great introduction giver for granted but ever person will notice if they are quite the opposite.
As the person setting up the spotlight for the main speaker, you want to make sure that you don’t carry on too long when introducing them. Giving too much detail about the other person could not only ruin part of their speech that they planned out but it will also make you look like you are trying to steal the show. Your job is to be brief and to the point. Nothing more and nothing less and you are golden.
Connecting it All Together
Your speech should tell who the speaker is, why the speakers speech is relevant to them (the audience), and how the speaker is relevant to said topic. There should be no confusion at the end of your speech as to why this speaker was chosen. The audience needs to feel that the speaker is going to provide them with information that they want to hear.
Of course this only applies when the audience is attending at their own will. You probably aren’t going to have any kids at the edge of their seats when you introduce the superintendent who will be speaking about the tardy policy.
Debatably The Most Important Part
This may seem like common sense but the most important part of introducing a speaker is saying their name. You should conclude your speech with a final sentence that introduces the speaker by mentioning their name, such as “with no further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Kenneth!”
Every speaker you introduce isn’t going to have a simply to pronounce name and with that being said you better learn how to properly pronounce the speakers name before you even start preparing your speech. If you pronounce a last name wrong you will not only offend the speaker but you will also tell the audience that you didn’t even take the time to learn how to pronounce the speakers name. Trust me, people in the audience know how to pronounce the name so if you don’t they will surely notice your error.
Keep it Concise
Depending on how long the other persons speech is should determine how long your introduction will be. If you do a dry run of what you plan to say and it goes over three minutes in length you need to shorten what you already have. Introducing a speaker is definitely one instance where “less is more” applies.
Think about being at your own wedding and the best man is your best friend of years. He goes on to talk about early memories and then some from late in your teens, then moves on to more recent years… then he continues to ramble. Meanwhile everybody in the audience is getting bored and the upbeat mood of everybody dancing and enjoying themselves has disappeared. It was supposed to be your time to shine but instead he continued to draw out his speech, taking attention away from you and in turn he lost the audience. Now it’s your turn to say your speech and all everyone can think about is how awful the previous guy was at speaking.
The above scenario is exactly why you want to keep it short and simple. A one minute introduction is better than a well thought out fifteen minute intro.
Trash the Extra Details
Remember, it’s not your speech. Extra details about friends or family when they aren’t necessary for introducing the speaker should be kept out of your speech.
Depending on what the speaker will be presenting, you may want to include humor. If your speech goes above 3 minutes, though, this is the first thing you should consider cutting out.
Preparation for the Event
You compiled something that you think is worthy and feel like you are ready to get this over with already — but wait! You haven’t practiced delivering your speech yet. The delivery of speech is just as important as the content. If Charlie Chaplin spoke in a monotone voice and had no fluctuation when he performed speeches, his Great Dictator Speech wouldn’t have been regarded as “The Greatest Speech Ever Made.”
By the way, why not learn a few tips from this speech by watching the video?
Practice With a Person
What’s a better way to practice than with a live person who can give you feedback on the spot? There simply isn’t an answer to that question. Grab a buddy or your wife and have them listen to your speech. Tell them to be completely honest with you because you would rather perfect your speech now than be told that it was perfect only to find out it bored the crowd.
Speak in Front of a Mirror
By speaking in front of a mirror you can see exactly how you appear to others when speaking. Body language is very important when speaking so make sure that it matches with what you are saying. Hands in the pockets during your entire speech shows that you are nervous and lack the ability to present in an exciting fashion. Move your arms, take pauses to make it more dramatic, but whatever you do don’t just stand like a stiff out there. The only time this may be acceptable is when you are introducing the speaker from behind a podium. Even then, moving your shoulders forward to emphasize parts of your speech or slight movements with your hands should be added.
Make sure that you pause during moments where you expect laughter. Come time to present your speaker, you want to make sure that if the audience laughs you are talking on top of them while they continue to laugh for another five seconds.
Keep Your Voice Healthy
Not that you would ever want to be sick, but try to take the steps to stay very healthy before the big day. Drink lots of fluids and don’t scream or yell before you have to speak. Be sure to check out these tips for keeping your voice healthy and you can’t go wrong.
Introducing a speaker is an honor in itself and you should feel ecstatic to have the opportunity to do so. It might be nerve racking your first time but after you finish with that last line of your speech and the applause starts you will feel on top of the world. It’s gonna be a shame that your guest speaker has to follow up your perfect introduction speech.
You never know how an introduction speech will go until you finally give it but if you apply all of these previous tips there’s no way that you can fail. Perform your speech with this knowledge and you’ll never be Googling “How Do I Introduce a Guest Speaker” again!