An introducer is in many ways a pathfinder, one who gauges the distance between speaker and audience and then establishes a path through that distance.
As the introducer, you've got a big responsibility. You must say the right things about the speaker and the right things about the speech while setting a tone that builds audience anticipation and links to its interests and the situation. You don't have much time - three minutes at most, but perhaps fewer than 30 seconds.
An introduction is itself a presentation, one that demands planning and rehearsal. Be aware from the outset that everything you know about giving an effective presentation applies when you introduce a speaker.
The introduction serves several purposes. It signals the audience that the main event is about to begin, letting listeners know it's time to stop their conversations and silence their cell phones. It acts as a bridge from one portion of a program to the next - from dinner, perhaps, to the after-dinner speaker, or simply from settling in to paying attention. An introduction prepares the audience for the speaker by providing details that clarify context and subject. And in terms of civility, an introduction graciously welcomes the speaker into a public forum.
Using a structure helps ensure that the introduction you plan and deliver will indeed fulfill the strategic purposes that enhance the experience for both speaker and audience.
Go to the front of the room or podium and stand silently for a moment, focusing on members of the audience. Then begin to speak - slowly, pausing as the audience settles down. Then complete your greeting, including in it any special persons or groups that protocol demands you single out for recognition. Keep your voice and expression enthusiastic. In most cases, the greeting can be as simple as "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be with you today."
After extending a gracious greeting, move to the grabber or hook, something that rivets audience attention. This could be a startling fact or statistic, a short anecdote about the speaker, an observation that relates to the speaker or subject. Move smoothly then to a statement that links the speaker and subject to the audience - a reference, perhaps, to conditions or events pertinent to the meeting, to the speaker's topic, or to larger issues.
Your next few comments will concern the speaker's background in order to help confirm the speaker's credibility, establish the speaker as the right selection for the talk, and give further reasons why the audience should indeed listen to this speaker. But don't attempt to deliver an extensive biography. Instead, select a few of the speaker's accomplishments, experiences, or qualifications that connect strongly to his or her area of expertise and the topic of his or her talk.
As you maintain eye focus with listeners, give the speaker's name. A simple sentence is effective, with the accent falling on the name of the speaker: "Please join me in welcoming Calvin Nudge!" or "Ladies and gentleman, Calvin Nudge!" Begin applauding, turn toward the speaker as he approaches, and step away from the microphone. If appropriate, shake his hand, but return to your seat as unobtrusively as possible so that he receives full audience attention as he begins to speak.
By the time you return to your seat, you'll have cleared a smooth path on which the speaker and audience meet. Take great pleasure.