Introductions are launch pads
The Introduction is an essential part of speechmaking. If you are the chairman of the meeting, or if you are the speaker, you must take hold of the Introduction and make it work. All speakers need to know how to make good introductions, both to ensure that they get the right build up before speaking, and because making an introduction is one of the skills that make a complete speaker.
Letâ€™s start with an example of an introduction that failed the speaker:
Our next speaker is going to tell us about his travels in America and what he found so exciting in that country. Michael Steel says he often goes there, and heâ€™s here to tell us his latest adventures.
The chairman then stopped talking and looked towards the speaker, gesturing limply as much as to say, â€œItâ€™s all yours.â€ The audience didnâ€™t know when to applaud, so as the speaker strode to the front there was a smattering of applause that rapidly died, leaving the speaker high and dry. He had to crank up his audience from cold. So letâ€™s consider why this (fairly typical) introduction was less than adequate.
Â· It was too vague about the topic that was to be covered in the speech. â€œAbout his travelsâ€ — what kind of travels?
Â· In saying something as meaningless as â€œwhat he found exciting in that countryâ€, the chairman revealed that he probably hadnâ€™t exchanged more than a couple of words with him before the meeting.
Â· â€œHeâ€™s here to tell us his latest adventuresâ€ is a form of words that diminishes the value of the speech.
Â· There was no mention of the speakerâ€™s credentials. Why should anyone want to hear Michael Steel talk about America? Does he have some special insight, some particular expertise, some unusual purpose in travelling to America?
Â· There was no â€œHookâ€ — nothing to grab the attention of the audience and make them want to sit up and listen.
Â· It was not obvious when the introduction was over, save for the embarrassed silence at the end. The speaker was left to create his own First Impression, without the benefit of a â€œlaunchâ€ from the chairman.
Â· The chairman did not take his introduction to a climax, nor did he lead and sustain the applause until the speaker was in the position to take charge of the platform.
Now you may be thinking, isnâ€™t that rather a lot to squeeze into a brief introduction, and youâ€™d be right. But, you see, thereâ€™s a lot more to an introduction than you may have thought.
What should an introduction consist of? It should:
Â· Engage the attention of the audience
Â· Raise their expectations, but not too highly
Â· Launch the speaker
Â· Mention his/her name several times
Â· Establish the speaker’s expertise or qualifications
Â· State what the speaker will be talking about (speech title)
Â· Be brief
Â· Create a good impression of the speaker
Needs no introduction â€¦
The why make one? This is just lazy talk.
Without further ado â€¦
First of all, itâ€™s old fashioned. Secondly, have you considered what it means? Do really intend to say that it has been a bit of a nuisance talking about the speaker, so letâ€™s quit now? â€œAdoâ€ means â€œdifficulty, bother or fussâ€. Think of â€œMuch ado about nothingâ€.
The speaker gave me this â€¦
This undermines the speaker. It says, in effect, â€œIâ€™m not taking responsibility for the good things Iâ€™m about to tell you about the speakerâ€ and implies that the speaker is immodest.
Good lady wife â€¦
The phrase is so cringe-making. Does he have a bad wife as well? Sometimes people say â€œgood ladyâ€ or â€œbetter halfâ€. Donâ€™t be one of them. Itâ€™s a shibboleth that demeans the lady and you as well.
Put your hands together â€¦
In prayer? Itâ€™s one of those dreadful clichÃ©s that have been popularised by ill-educated game show hosts on TV.
None other than â€¦
Itâ€™s all a bit unnecessary, and reminds me of the introduction song to Donald Duck cartoons, which ends, â€œNo one (pause) but Donald Duck!â€
Heard heâ€™s good â€¦
Sounds like a challenge. â€œHeard heâ€™s good, so letâ€™s see if itâ€™s true!â€ It places an unfair burden of proof on the speaker, and raises the audienceâ€™s expectations to an unreasonable level.
HOW to do it right
Consult the speaker beforehand
Obtain only Relevant info for the occasion
Consider your Opening/maintain good Order
Present speakerâ€™s Credentials
Give the Speaker/Guest Kudos
Do it with Enthusiasm
Give Title — speech / Speaker / Topic
Let your ROCKET launch the Speaker!
Finish on speakerâ€™s name, with a rising flourish: John (pause) SMITH!
EXAMPLE of correct Speaker introduction
Our next speaker is well known to you all. I wonâ€™t say he needs no introduction, because it is always a pleasure and an honour to introduce Les King, a man of many parts. He is witty, humorous, and a fascinating raconteur. When Mike Silverman appointed him Area Governor, Les said that it was proof that Mike has a sense of humour. Among his many interests is a fascination with computers and with the Internet, which he uses to communicate with Toastmasters everywhere. This evening he is going to show us how easy it is to cope with the complexities of the Internet. The title of his speech is, â€œTalk is cheap, but the Net is cheaper.â€
Ladies and gentlemen, letâ€™s give a friendly welcome to our Area Governor, Les (pause) KING!