D.O.A.: Why Presenters Hate Bad Introductions

by drjim on April 28, 2009

A Poor Introduction Can Kill A Speech Before You Start

A Poor Introduction Can Kill A Speech Before You Start

We spend all of this time coming up with our next speech, getting each and every word just right, practicing the speech, the gestures, the pauses, only to get killed before we even open our mouths to speak.

How does this crime occur? Simple – whoever is running the show delivers a bad introduction and then turns the stage over to us. Just imagine the total silence that grips the room then – all of a sudden there is no excitement about who you are or what you are going to be saying. Talk about having to dig yourself out of a hole before you even start!

Michael Varma is a professional speaker who had found himself in this situation a number of times and has come up with some ways to avoid it.

First off, as a presenter you’ve got to spend some time thinking about just what an introduction is designed to do. In the world of professional comedy, a warm-up act comes out before the main act. The role of the warm-up act is simply to get the audience used to laughing. This makes things much easier for the main act – the audience is already conditioned to laugh no matter what the main act says. An introduction does the same thing for a presenter.

As a presenter, you need to come up with a good introduction for yourself and your speech. A good introduction needs to contain three things:

  • Content: What are you going to be talking about? This is designed to grab your audience’s attention so that they will be eager to hear more.
  • Context: Just knowing WHAT you will be talking about is not enough, your audience needs to know WHY you will be talking about it and why they should care. Providing them with this information will start to build a bridge between you on stage and the audience even before you start to speak.
  • Credibility: Providing the audience with a reason why you are the best person to be talking to them about this topic is the final part of an introduction. All too often we put too much information here (we are, after all, proud of ourselves). In all honesty, one or two sentences does the trick.

Look, you can’t always control the way life goes and sometimes you will be introduced poorly. However, if you write out your introduction, print it out nice an large and provide it to your introducer BEFORE he or she goes on stage, then you will have done your best to avoid being a victim of the crime of a poor introduction.

Have you ever been introduced poorly? Was it hard to get the audience to pay attention after this? Have you ever been introduced well? Did you have an easier time with a good introduction? How do you get your introducer to use your introduction? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Training Connection December 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

So true! Let’s also remember what we came to do and why we were asked to speak. I can remember trembling starts just from being a tad nervous or maybe too relaxed with my audience. Still, I found that when I reiterated my purpose (speaking to my thoughts), I became more emboldened and excited about what I had to offer this team of professionals.

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Dr. Jim Anderson December 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Ah, you’ve remembered the golden rule of public speaking: it’s really all about the audience. No matter how proud we are of our words or our style, we need to always remember that it’s about the impact that we can make on our audience. Thanks for the reminder…!

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