November 5, 2013

Introductions: Don't leave them to chance



I recently watched a speaker who confessed, after being introduced, that he was apprehensive about introductions because "I never know what they're going to say about me."

If you're lucky enough to have someone introduce you, don't leave your introduction to chance. Take charge of the situation and write your own!

There are two main benefits to this:

1. You control what is said about you.

Many speakers have suffered lackluster and inaccurate introductions, where someone either throws together a few words at the last moment, or misconstrues something in your bio and gives you titles and accolades that are incorrect. Worse is the introducer who tries to be funny and cracks jokes or tells personal stories about the speaker that just fall flat.

When you write your own intro, you decide what the introducer says about you. This doesn't mean that he or she won't add something personal if they choose to, but the important stuff is provided by you.

And by the way, never assume the introducer will pronounce your name correctly. Always make sure you go over pronunciation with her or him beforehand.

2. You get the opportunity to engage the audience before you even take the stage.

The worst introductions are the ones where the introducer reads straight from the speaker's bio and drones on and on about credentials and accomplishments that the audience couldn't care less about. You may choose to offer this kind of introduction, but you don't have to.

My introduction (you can see it here) is all true, but it's much more fun and entertaining for the audience, who really just wants to get to the content and not listen to someone talk about my background for five minutes.

If people want to learn more about me, they can find more information on my website, which I share either on my session agenda, my slides or via my business card.

There's an argument that, as speakers, we need to "establish our credibility" at the beginning of a presentation. Here's my opinion on that: They've already shown up to hear me speak because they read about me and my topic in a conference catalog or their employer has hired me to train them.

During the course of the presentation, they will hear examples of my work with clients and my philosophy of speaking, and they can always look me up later. I believe that I've established enough credibility already by just being there, and the audience doesn't need to have it shoved down their throats.

Do you write your own introduction for your speaking gigs? Do you have one that's fun and engaging? Share in the comments!

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