06 Sep Are your speaker introductions sending your audience to sleep?

We’ve all been there. the MC takes the stage, welcomes you and then bores you to death as they read out a ong, boring, uninspiring list of the upcoming speaker’s credentials resulting in a complete lack of interest in the speaker, the subject matter, and the session in general!

I’m sure you’ve been subjected to some pretty bad speaker introductions in your career whilst attending a conference. I have found the introductions for internal speakers are often the worst.

The truth is, that most speakers wouldn’t have a clue what to tell you to say in their introduction, so being introduced isn’t often a fun experience for them either.

A professional MC knows better than to read out the list of the CEO’s university degrees. If you have an unpaid, inexperienced MC it’s often difficult to know what to do with the standard sleep-inducing bio.

Let’s make sure your audience is excited to hear from every speaker on your program at the conferences you have to organise!

I’ve listed some considerations that you can either give to your MC, or use for yourself if you find yourself having to MC at the last minute.

There are four main objectives when you are introducing a speaker.

  1. Grab the audience’s attention.
  2. Spark interest and anticipation in what’s coming up. In other words, it’s about getting the audience in the right state to be able to best receive the message the speaker is delivering.
  3. Build the credibility of the speaker.
  4. Reinforce or establish your own credibility and the credibility of your business.

Here are my top 15 tips for introducing a speaker.

  1. Research the speaker before you meet them. Call them or meet up with them if possible and have a conversation about what they will be talking about and what they plan to achieve with the audience.
  2. Ensure that the intro you write is punchy, interesting and builds the credibility of the speaker. If you have been given something to read out by the speaker, check that it fulfills the purpose of an intro and ask permission to change it if you think you need to.
  3. Ensure you know how to pronounce the speaker’s name and details. Over the past 2 decades I could count on only 2 hands the times an MC has announced my last name correctly (even though I tell them “it’s bow like curtsey, not bow in your hair” – it’s unprofessional to say your speaker’s name incorrectly.
  4. Learn the intro before the day. Ensure that you are able to deliver most, if not all, of the intro to the audience without reading it. Professional speakers don’t read from notes. Professional MCs don’t either.
  5. Look up and smile at your audience before you speak.
  6. Think of a catchy icebreaker, fact, statistic or something that you can deliver to kick off proceedings and make sure you cleverly link that icebreaker to the role you are playing today.
  7. Look at everyone (one at a time) with direct, connected eye contact.
  8. Speak clearly and slowly and breathe deeply between your sentences.
  9. Smile throughout and keep your energy high, enthusiastic, engaging.
  10. Ensure you are true to yourself. Be authentic and reduce exaggeration in your gestures, voice and content.
  11. Don’t talk about yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about the speaker and their audience.
  12. Don’t make excuses for anything about the event, the room, the speaker, your nerves – you are there to introduce the speaker and set the vibe for a positive event.
  13. Build your energy to a climax so the audience builds with you.
  14. Remember to tell your audience to clap their hands for the speaker and ensure you clap your hands too.
  15. Shake the hand of the speaker as they arrive on stage.

All these tips will ensure that your audience is prepped and primed and enthusiastic about the speaker they are about to hear. Happy Presenting!

Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), 8 times nominee for Educator of the Year, co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling, internationally published author (Wiley), editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au