Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Anatomy of a Speaker's Introduction: Part I

We'll spend hours, days, weeks, even a lifetime writing and perfecting our speech, and yet, before we ever get up to present, someone else holds a major key to our success or failure.

That someone else is our Introducer. That major key is our Introduction.

Both tend to be neglected or even forgotten by the beginning speaker, and downright mishandled by all but the best speakers.

Too often a Speaker's Introduction is one of two things - a reading of the biography or description provided for the event program, or an equally long biography either written by the clueless speaker or the wannabe helpful introducer themselves. We KNOW this is both boring and ineffective, and yet we let it happen time and time again.

Don't waste the 30 seconds before your presentation, you know, the one you spent all your time on, on information the audience doesn't need and/or already has. Don't give them a reason before you even open your mouth to shut you out and turn to their smartphone. Instead, use your introduction to draw them in, make them laugh, and prepare them for the main event - YOU.

Your introduction is a mini-speech - and I mean mini. If it goes longer than two minutes, you're doing it wrong. If you can do it in minute or less, all the better.

What exactly IS the Anatomy of a Speaker's Introduction?

1. Attention Grab - just as you might in a speech, start with a question or shocking statistic or statement related to your content, or yourself. This sucks your audience in immediately, and sets an expectation for your subject and your style. EX: If you're giving a leadership speech, start off with a controversial statement about about leadership, a question about how the audience feels about leadership, or perhaps a qualifying statement about your own leadership experience in a concise manner.

2. Humor - yes, humor. If you can get your audience laughing before you ever come up, your connection will already be building, and it will be easier for you to keep their attention, vs. trying to regain it, after your introduction.

EX: Instead of a laundry list of your leadership experience, offer up a combined credibility/humorous triad - 'our speaker today is the CEO of a multi-million dollar tech company, has been married for 20 years, and has three wonderful children who have honed her leadership skills faster than either the corporate world or the bonds of matrimony ever could.' 

3. Tailored Credibility - you're probably loaded with personal and professional credentials. President of this, CEO of that, with multiple BS, BA, PhD, and Master's degrees from the best schools, not to mention organizational certifications like CPS, AS, DTM and WCPS, technical certifications like - well I don't have any so I don't know what they are, but YOU do - along with your amazing spouse, beautiful children, stepchildren, adopted children, and foster children. You've written 5 best-selling books, and appeared on Larry King, Oprah, and Jerry Springer. You make a ton of money, and give most of it away to 15 different charities. In your spare time, you fly, climb mountains, and crochet afghans that you give to your local homeless shelter.

In short, you rock.

This is all great information to share...on your website.

As far as your introduction, remember, we're keeping it short. If your credibility matters to the audience you're in front of it, or is crucial to your message, use some of it - maybe one or two items, at most. Keep in mind, however, that these people already know you're credible, because you're in front of them, and your bio is likely in the program, or at the very least a smartphone away.

4. Product Placement - yes, you can briefly include a mention of your most recent book or product, if it matters to the moment, and is available after the presentation. Briefly. You'll also bring this up in your Outroduction, which I'll talk about in another post.

5. Promise - this may have been part of your Attention Grab, but if not, make a short statement at the end, right before your name, with your promise. What are they going to get? What solution? What feeling? What plan? EX: In his presentation today, you will be armed with three solid way to Speak and Deliver your greatest message - Welcome Rich Hopkins.

6. Title NO, Name YES - in a professional introduction, the title of your talk is entirely irrelevant. As seen in the example above, give the promise, then have them introduce you with your name. If you can stop your name from being used at all before the end, all the better. Why? Because use of your name triggers both applause and your movement towards the stage. Using it throughout the introduction can inadvertently create false starts. Save it til the end, and head up to the stage.

Bonus Tip - Humorous Name or Branding Modifier - if you've used a personal funny description in the intro, or have a branding moniker, call back to it. EX: Welcome the rocker himself...., Welcome, fresh from his latest Game of Thrones binge-watching.... Welcome the Man in the Hat.... Welcome the Win Anyway Guy himself....

In Part II, I'll talk about the hazards involved with your introduction and introducer, and how to navigate all the landmines involved when you are relying on a third party, or several third parties, to launch your presentation. In Part III, I'll discuss, for my Toastmaster friends, a more tailored approach for your TM speeches, and how they can improve your club and member experience.

I'd love to have a Part IV - where I take real introductions YOU send me, and I power them up for you. I'll take four intros - first come, first served - and help you craft them to help you get your next speech off to a powerful start before you ever get on stage. Just leave your request in the comments below.

Until then - look at your current introduction and compare it to the above formula. Is it too long? Too boring? Too filled with non-pertinent information? Is it giving you your best chance to Speak....and Deliver?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...