Preparing For Your Shortest Speech

A speaker’s introduction is a real speech
A speaker’s introduction is a real speech
Image Credit: Michael Ostendorp

As speakers, when we are asked to give a speech we generally expect the speeches that we’ll be giving to last 30 to 60 minutes. However, that is not always the case. We all know that due to circumstances, the amount of time that we’ll be given to talk may be reduced. Because of this, we are often encouraged to have a shorter version of our speech in our “back pocket”. However, what if the speech that we are being asked to give is super short to begin with? Would you even know how to go about creating a very short speech?

The Shortest Speech: An Introduction

When you are considering the next type of public speaking for you to master, don’t overlook what may be the shortest speech of all: introducing another speaker. Many of us may not consider this a speech – it’s just something that we say to fill the time before another speaker starts. However, if you think that, then you would be wrong. Successful introductions are able to set the tone for an event. They will also tell listeners why they want to hear from the featured speaker, and why the speaker was invited to speak in the first place.

As speakers, when we think about the introduction as a short speech it isn’t simply a way of inflating our role as an introducer. If you take the time to think about it, it turns out that introductions really have the same structure as speeches. What this means is that they come equipped with an opening, a body and a closing. Now that structure may encompasses only a few sentences, but the structure is still there and you are going to have to take the time to master it.

How To Create A Good Introduction

Speakers need to realize that learning to give a good introduction is an important step in building your speaking skills. Often, when you are asked to provide an introduction for another speaker, you’ll begin preparing an introduction with biographical material provided in advance by the speaker. However, you don’t want to limit yourself to only reading the summary. A much better plan is instead of giving the audience a chronological recitation of this speaker’s resume, instead seek out background material that relates to, or underscores, the theme of the speaker’s message, or can help the audience to relate to them as a person.

When you are creating an introduction make sure that you don’t neglect the speech itself in your introduction. What you are going to want to do is instead of merely introducing the speaker, you might also want to share your thoughts on the topic itself and how it may be significant to the audience. Finally, you are going to want to think about your introduction as a form of a red carpet – one that you’re laying down to lead the speaker to their audience. Will it be possible for you to get the audience thinking, laughing and feeling excited about hearing the speaker? One thing that you can do is to take time to include what are called grace notes (small embellishments) in your introduction in order to prepare the audience for the speaker. If you can accomplish all of this, then you’ll have their undying gratitude for making the effort.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we are all used to being asked to give a speech. When we receive a request, we’ll prepare what we want to say during a typical 30–60-minute speech. However, we need to broaden our understanding of what types of speeches are out there. In fact, there might be one type of speech that you will be asked to give that you might not even view as being a speech. I’m talking about giving an introduction for another speaker.

Many speakers don’t view an introduction as being a “real” speech. They think of it simply as filler before the real speaker starts their speech. However, we need to understand that your introduction of a speaker can set the tone for their speech. Every introduction has the same structure as a regular speech. It will have an opening, a body, and a closing. When we are asked to deliver an introduction, we will often be given biographical material. However, instead of just reading that, we should take the time to get the speaker’s back story. During our introduction we need to realize that the speaker will be giving a speech and we need to get the audience fired up and ready to hear it.

It turns out that introducing a speaker can be a critical part of any speech. If we are asked to provide an introduction, then we have the ability to set the tone for the speech. We need to understand that what we tell the audience will hopefully get them excited about the speech that they will soon be hearing. Delivering a successful speaker introduction may be the shortest, and the most important, type of speech that you will ever give!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that a speaker’s introduction should be?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Not all of us have the mastery of more than one language; however, for those of us who do, giving a speech can be that much more exciting. The question that you are going to have to find an answer to is just exactly what language will you use for your next speech? There may be one language that you use daily; however, you happen to know another language. Each language is different and they all have their unique characteristics. How will you decide which language to use?