An audience knows a good speech of introduction. Here are some of the more important laws to obey when you are the introducer:

Be brief. The whole thing should take one to two minutes (at most).

Avoid stale phrases, such as: “It is indeed a pleasure ... a man who needs no introduction ... we are gathering here tonight ...”

Get it right. Make certain you know the speaker's name and how to say it. When in doubt, ask her before the event, and while you're at it, make sure the biographical information is also correct.

Avoid giving the speaker false starts. E.g. “... and so I take great pleasure in introducing Mr. Rick Shaw ... (Mr. Shaw rises) ... a man who is eminently qualified in many ways...” (Mr. Shaw drops nervously into his chair.)

Don't try to steal the spotlight. Your purpose is not to steal thunder from the person you are presenting. Nor is it to give the audience a sample of what it is missing because the program committee did not have the good judgment to schedule you for the main speech as well as the speech of introduction.

Answer Four Questions

Your purpose as an introducer is to help the speaker you are presenting to get off to a fast and comfortable start. The best way to accomplish this purpose is to answer four simple questions in your speech of introduction. Answer in the order below. Answer accurately, interestingly, and briefly.

  • Why this subject?
  • Why this subject before this audience?
  • Why this subject before this audience at this time?
  • Why this subject before this audience at this time by this speaker?

Your skillful introduction will create a pleasant harmony between subject, audience, occasion, and speaker. And then comes your critical moment as an introducer-the moment of presentation. At the end of the last sentence of your introduction, with a climactic intonation of unmistakable finality, announce your speaker's name. Announce it clearly and with sharply increased volume.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you [slight pause]

Continue to face your audience as you deliver this last sentence, so the speaker's name is not lost through a premature turn of the head. Then swing swiftly about and face your speaker with an alert expression of friendly welcome on your face. Remain standing in this position until the speaker rises and acknowledges your introduction. Then sit down. Your work is done.

Reprinted from PS for Business Communicators®, ECG's client newsletter.