I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of speaking lately. It’s been a big part of my marketing plan this year and, as you may know, I love it for a lot of reasons.
Each time I am asked to speak, I provide a written speaker introduction. And each time the designated introducer receives it, without fail, they say something like, “I’m not going to read it – I’m just going to say a few words.” Translation: “I want to do it my way.”
Umm. no. It’s not about you.
Truthfully, I used to acquiesce because I don’t like making waves and it always seems to occur right before I’m about to step onto the stage. This is because, more often than not, the introducer hasn’t given little if any thought to this until just before.
So I thought it would be helpful to explain why it’s important and how to use the speaker introduction that he or she provides, and yes, even if it sucks.
As a speaker, I manage my brand quite carefully. I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am. My bio on my website is much too long for someone to read aloud and in any event, it’s written for the eye vs. the ear. Furthermore, no one knows my accomplishments better than I do, nor can they pick and choose the ones most likely to establish credibility with a specific audience. A well-written speaker introduction sets this all up by preparing the audience for what’s to come, confirming expectations, and reassuring them their time will be well-spent.
Unfortunately, not everyone can write a good speaker introduction, so what do you do if the speaker provides an intro that is so poorly executed you might even be embarrassed to read it?
First, don’t wait until the last minute to either ask for it or review it. Just like you have to say your presentation out loud, you have to read the speaker introduction out loud to feel and hear how it exits your mouth. Any awkward wording or incorrect grammar can be changed without the speaker’s permission. If it truly sucks, you should alert the speaker and ask them to revise and resend. If it still sucks, you’re stuck and that’s on them. They will learn, trust me.
Second, read it with enthusiasm. Do not use the corporate monotone or other affects that lack variety. As the introducer, it’s your job to talk up the speaker and get your audience excited to hear him or her.
Finally, if you know the person personally, it’s ok to first say a few things about your personal relationship and then segue into the official speaker introduction by saying something like, “And now, I’m going to give you Ruth’s official introduction.”
It took me some time to create a speaker introduction that hit all the marks, was easy to read, easy to listen to, and that I could use for years (with frequent tweaks), so let me share the qualities a good one should have:
- 100 words or less
- Highlights of speaker’s career, especially the ones that apply to a given audience (no law says you cannot have different intros for different audiences)
- Something fun or funny
- 14-16 point Arial font, double-spaced for easy reading
If you would like to see my current speaker introduction, email us.