Introducing a speaker: Wise Words from Williams
It is supposed to be a short and simple job. It sets the tone for the major speech of the event; but the introductory speech has been battered and bruised.
Its simplicity might be one of the main reasons why it is so often done incorrectly. Another reason might be the fact that we often think anyone can do the introduction because it doesn’t take much, just a few words and a few minutes. But, if it is to be done correctly, it is not a job for just anyone.
A minister was asked to speak to the graduating class in a small town about a hundred miles from where he lived. He knew no one there and wondered why he was asked.
On graduation night the principal began his introduction of the speaker.
“Reverend Smith does not know it, but a year ago I was in his community on a Sunday morning and I dropped in at his church service. The sermon I heard that morning was so fine that I decided on the spot this was the man we wanted to speak at our next graduation exercise.”
For the next five minutes the principal gave a fully accurate and complete outline of the sermon of the previous year. The waiting speaker grew paler and paler with each flattering word of the principal. Little did anyone know that the address he had in his pocket was the sermon being so carefully outlined to the waiting audience.
There are lessons in that story for speakers but since our focus is on the introducer, the advice is to keep it short and leave out the stories.
Keeping it short does not mean we won’t make errors, so watch your words, be careful what you say. Know what you are going to say and say it.
One introducer got up and in the process of introducing the speaker he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am not going to bore you with a long drawn-out speech, but allow me to introduce you to a speaker who will.”
In preparing to do an introduction the general guideline is to prepare the audience for the speaker. You are drawing the audience and speaker together so they can communicate. Here is a TIP on how it should be done.
Tell a little about the speaker. Explain why he is qualified to speak on the topic he will be speaking on.
Inform the audience why this particular person was chosen for this audience. In other words, connect the speaker to the audience.
Present the person. “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome to the podium, our speaker for this afternoon …”
One additional thing; be accurate. Get your information right, especially get the pronunciation of the speaker’s name right. Be sure all your info is up to date and correct.
The Rev. Valentine Williams is the Pastor of Transforming Life Center Church in Pineville, a motivational speaker, seminar/workshop leader, personal development coach, adjunct instructor and the author of Youth Empowered to Succeed. He is also the president of Williams Speaking and Training Services, a people development organization that conducts professional and personal development training and staff development workshops. For questions, comments or speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.