The Three P’s of a Powerful Introduction
“H – e – r – e – ‘s Johnny! There was something special about the way Ed McMahon introduced Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. The audience always knew what was coming yet they still cheered and applauded heartily. Sure, the applause signs helped, but Ed was good. He knew how to introduce the host.
When was the last time you introduced the guest speaker? Would you like to do better the next time? You may need to introduce a guest speaker for your company, trade show or association event. Here are some tips and techniques to help you handle the job like a pro.
The audience isn’t there to hear you speak. Your role is to set the set the stage for the speaker. You’re delivering a mini speech (keep it mini, don’t get carried away) so treat the job seriously.
Talk to the speaker before you introduce them. Learn how to pronounce their name. Say the name several times so that it feels comfortable on your tongue
Get the written introduction ahead of time – read it through for clarity, understanding and pronunciation. If it appears too long or disorganized, suggest changes but don’t it without the speaker’s permission.
Read it out load a few times so you only need to look down at the beginning of every phrase. Increase the size of the print to make it easier to read. Highlight the key words or beginning of each thought. Make sure you pronounce the speaker’s name right.
Remember the purpose of the introduction by thinking “TIS“
Topic – What will the speaker talk about?
Importance – Why this topic for this audience?
Speaker – Who the speaker is and why this speaker for this topic?
These are the questions you must answer for the audience in your introduction. Avoid the tendency to over qualify the speaker. If the speaker is a PhD – don’t mention their high school achievements. Unless they are talking about families – who cares how many children and pets they have?
Sometimes the reason for picking this speaker and topic may appear obvious. For example, if you were introducing Albert Einstein to speak on Relativity, you wouldn’t list all the accolades and qualifications of Mr. Einstein.
You might simply remind people of something both familiar and amazing by stating, “Mr Einstein is able to explain complex issues in simple terms that people can understand and remember. He accurately summarized the power of the atom with the formula, E=mc2.”
You\re delivering a mini speech. When you approach the lectern look positive. Stand confidently and smile. Pause while you wait for the full attention of the audience. Look at the audience, proudly state your name and point out that you are privileged to introduce today’s speaker.
Don’t say that you’re doing this because you lost the coin toss. You’re not there to entertain so don’t tell jokes.
Read the introduction while looking at the audience. That means you scan the printed introduction and speak to them with your eyes and words.
Although you might mention the speaker’s name early in the introduction be sure to close your introduction with it.
“And now to speak to us on How to be more creative”, (pause) “please welcome, (pause) Albert (short pause) Einstein!”
State the speaker’s name clearly.
You rehearsed so you can look at the audience when you say the speaker’s name.
Imagine introducing a friend to a colleague. You must be able to state the name without reading it. You must convey that same confidence.
Add some drama to the name. Draw out the first name a little longer than the second. Put emphasis on the first syllable of the first name and the last syllable of the second name. The second name should be louder than the first so that you build the audience to a natural applause – and the speaker feels welcomed.
To add a little more fanfare, show delight on your face once you’ve said the speaker’s name, look at the speaker and wave your hand in a gentle arc to point the audience’s attention to the speaker. You won’t have an applause sign – so it is all up to you.
Keep this article for the next time you have the privilege of introducing the guest speaker. You never know when you might lose the coin toss.
To get yourself in the right mindset, face the mirror and practice saying, “H – e – r – e ‘s Johnny!”
To introduce your speaker – remember – Prepare, be clear on your Purpose and Perform.
Enjoy watching how Ed McMahon introduces Johnny.