How to Introduce a Speaker
by Ray Strackbein
As the introducer, your role is to motivate the audience to sit up, pay attention, and be ready to hear the speaker. The speaker is the star, so never attempt to upstage the speaker by ad-libbing or telling jokes. Your job is to make the speaker shine. When the speaker looks good, you look good.
Contact the speaker well ahead of time. Ask for two things: a written introduction and the proper pronunciation of the speaker's name. Even common names might be pronounced in unusual ways. Answer any questions the speaker might have about the event. Make sure you and the speaker are clear about the expectations of the group and the speaker -- for example, handouts, promoting the speaker's services from the platform, and meeting the audience or board before or after the speech. Discuss your role and the speaker's expectations for after the speech. Schedule a time for the day of the speech when you and the speaker can meet and talk for a few minutes.
Just before the presentation, meet with the speaker at the scheduled time and place. Verify your pronunciation of the speaker's name. Agree on the sequence of events: e.g. the chairperson will introduce you, you will introduce the speaker, the speaker will speak, then you will lead the round of applause and thank the speaker.
When it comes time to introduce the speaker, have a printed copy of the introduction ready. Print it in large type so it will be easy to read. If there is a microphone available, use it. Read the introduction exactly as it is written. Don't ad-lib or make sweeping claims about how good the speaker is, even if they are the very best. It's difficult for a speaker to live up to "He's the best I ever heard." Remember, it's about the speaker, not you. Let their speech demonstrate how good they are and take the audience by welcome surprise.
When you have finished your introduction, get out of the way and go back to your seat. Let the speaker shine.
copyright © Ray Strackbein.
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