Your Shortest Speech

Just because it's short, doesn't mean that it's not important
Just because it’s short, doesn’t mean that it’s not important
Image Credit: William Warby

When we are asked to give a speech, we understand the importance of public speaking and so we generally plan on talking for somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the venue. However, that is not always the case. In fact, there is one type of speech that we may be called on to give that is much, much shorter than what we are used to. What type of speech is this you ask? It’s when we are asked to introduce another speaker.

Preparing An Introduction Speech

When we are asked to provide an introduction for someone who will be giving a speech, we often don’t give it a lot of thought. Yeah, yeah – we’ll need to know the speaker’s name and probably what topic they will be talking about, but that is pretty much it. What we really should be realizing is that a successful introduction of a speaker can set the tone for an event. The introduction that you deliver really needs to provide two things. The first is to tell the audience why they are going to want to listen to this speaker. The second is to tell the audience why this particular speaker has been invited to address them.

I would ask that you start to think about any introduction that you are asked to give a bit differently than you probably do today. Start thinking about this speaking opportunity as being a very, very short speech. I don’t want you to start to think that this is going to be all about you, it’s really not. Instead, I’d like you to realize that an introduction can have the same structure as a well done speech. Your introduction is going to have an opening, a body, and then a closing. Now you need to realize that each of these sections will probably be very brief – perhaps only a few lines or so.

Yes, we’d all like to be the person who is giving the speech instead of just the person who has been asked to introduce them. However, we need to realize that being provided with an opportunity to give a good introduction is a way for us to improve our speaking skills.

Delivering An Introduction Speech

So when we’re asked to make an introduction for a speaker, just exactly how should we go about doing this? One of the best places to start creating your introduction is to begin with whatever biographical material you can get on the person that you’ll be introducing. What you are probably going to want to do is to provide a chronological overview of the speaker’s life or career that will show how they came to be here today. What is going to be especially important is to show what part of their background most closely relates to the topic that they’ll be speaking about today. You’ll want to include any material that might help your audience to relate to the speaker or to the situations that they have been in.

One thing that a lot of introducers forget to do is to actually provide an introduction to the speech itself. Remember, this is why the audience came today. Yes, you are going to want to introduce the person who will be speaking, but you are also going to want to introduce the speech that they will be giving. This would be a good time for you to share any thoughts that you might have about the speech topic and how it relates to the audience.

In the end, what we really want to do is to think of the introduction that we are going to provide as being a runway for the speaker who will be following us. It is our job to prepare the audience to listen to the speaker. What you are going to want to do in your introduction is to get your audience to start to anticipate what the speaker is going to be sharing with them. Take the time to prepare your audience for your speaker and you’ll have earned the appreciation of that speaker forever.

What All Of This Means For You

When we think about speaking, we almost always think about ourselves standing in front of an audience and providing the benefits of public speaking by delivering a speech that can last for a significant amount of time. However, it turns out that there is another type of speech that we can give that will help us to develop our speaking skills: an introduction.

The introduction of another speaker provides us with an opportunity to create a very short speech. This speech will have the standard opening, body, and closing. We’ll generally start to create this type of speech using biographical material that the speaker has provided us with. What we’ll want to do is to use this to create a chronological story that we can share with our audience to explain how the speaker came to be here today. We’ll want to show how their background has led to the speech that they will be giving today.

Preparing to give a speech can be a big deal. Preparing to give a good introduction probably won’t take quite as long, but it is yet another opportunity for us to practice developing our speaking skills. If we take the time to use the material that we’ve been given in order to create a good introduction for the speaker, then we will have successfully prepared the audience for what they are about to hear and we’ll have the gratitude of the speaker for our efforts.

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

Question For You: How long do you think that a speech 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

Public speaking is actually pretty simple. What we do is we stand up in front of a group of people and then we use words to communicate thoughts and ideas with them – that’s what the importance of public speaking is all about. Note that I just told you how we do this – we use words. It stands to reason that if you know more words, you can do a better job of expressing your ideas to your audience. I’d like to think that we all have an ok vocabulary size, but wouldn’t you agree with me that if it was larger, then you’d be a better speaker?