How to Introduce a Speaker in Any Setting (And Amaze Your Audience)

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your icebreaker speech on the big day

Importance of a Good Introduction

If you’re reading this, kudos to you as you are one of the few people who actually take out the time and effort to craft a great speech introduction.

Many times we feel that if we ourselves aren’t the main speaker, why take out any time to work on a great introduction?

But here’s the thing, as the introductory speaker, if you want your audience to be excited for the speaker who is about to come on the stage, a strong introduction is important.

As an audience member, if I have never heard of the speaker (or even if I do know a little bit about her) I won’t be very open to their speech simply because I don’t know how credible the speaker is.

Sure the speaker could herself say those credentials when she comes on the stage. But true credibility is added when the praise comes from a third person (that being you in this case). 

Take Tom Bilyeu for example. Tom is the founder and host of the company and popular Youtube channel – Impact Theory where he calls on highly acclaimed speakers, entrepreneurs, writers, athletes, etc. to interview them.

While the interviews are in themselves amazing, it’s the way Tom introduces each of his guests that blows my mind!

Take this clip for example:

The introduction shows that Tom has taken time and put a genuine effort into his research. It’s what makes his introductions so powerful.

And that’s why an introduction is important:

  • It makes your audience excited for who they are about to see
  • It makes the speaker feel genuinely acknowledged for being invited to that event

Without a good introduction, the audience will not have a strong enough reason to be open to the speaker’s ideas because they might not know the credibility of the speaker.

An introduction is also like a short speech. So it’s important you take your time out to craft and deliver one that does justice to both – the speaker as well as yourself!

Note: Want to take your communications skills to the next level? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our expert communication coaches. We’ll look under the hood of your hurdles and pick two to three growth opportunities so you can speak with impact!

Alright! Let’s jump into the tips of creating a splendid introduction. Whether it’s a seminar, conference, interview, church or just a small gathering, these tips are applicable in almost all scenarios.

Tips

Research

research the speaker you are about to introduce

Your work starts even before the introductory speech. The person who is invited to speak would be having certain credentials.

The way those credentials are communicated with high effectiveness is your job as the introductory speaker.

This is important as it’s what will get the audience excited and give them a reason to be engaged in a speech because of the credibility of the speaker.

Research can be of two types:

  • You can actually meet or contact the speaker directly and ask her all the questions you would need to create a great introduction.
  • The internet

If you have access to the speaker, then great! If not, use sources like LinkedIn to understand the work they have done in the past, or try and see if you can connect to someone close to them and get a bite from them for the introduction as well.

Once you know what all the speaker has done in her life and why she is an expert in the subject she is going to speak on, you have set yourself up for crafting a lovely introduction.

Keep it short!

One thing to remember when giving an introduction is to not get carried away! While your introduction is as good as a short speech, we must not forget the keyword here – short!

The main spotlight is for the speaker. So keep your intro short. Below 2 and a half minutes is usually a good space to be in. Exceeding 4 minutes is a little too much so make sure to not overstep your speaking time.

I remember seeing this one introductory speaker who just went on and on with his introduction. He spoke about things that weren’t even relevant to the subject of the talk. It was just a waste of time.

When you prepare your introduction, practice it and time yourself to ensure you aren’t taking up too much of the stage time.

We’ve made a short video on how you can make your speech more concise and clear so you communicate what’s relevant without taking up too much of your audience’s time:

Save the name for the end

The last word is the cue for applause in any introduction. And it’s best to save the applause for the speaker’s name.

Here’s an example of how NOT to do it:

“Our motto is ‘Communication is key’. So I’m very pleased to welcome John Brown for our special event today. John is one of the best speakers in the country and has been invited by several prestigious universities to share his ideas…(some more credentials)…So please join me in welcoming John Brown!”

The problem with this is that it gives out the applause factor in the second sentence of the introduction itself.

Instead, you should build up the speaker with her credentials and only reveal the name at the end of the speech (see ‘Introduction Speech Template’).

Again, look at Tom Bilyeu’s introduction. He never reveals the guest’s name until the end of the introduction. That’s what makes the applause so loud!

Lead the applause

As soon as you end your introduction, don’t simply wait for the audience to clap. Lead the applause!

In all likelihood, when done correctly, your audience will applaud as soon as you end your talk. But you should still assume the lead and begin the applause and let the audience follow just in case.

Receive the speaker with a handshake

Receive the speaker with a handshake

When you introduce the speaker and call them out on the stage, don’t just walk off the stage.

Receive the speaker with a handshake. Usually, the audience will still be applauding when this happens.

We do this so as to properly acknowledge to the audience that our time on stage has come to an end and we will now be handing the spotlight over to the next speaker.

This is something that the international organization Toastmasters also harps on. Every time a speaker or role bearer gets on stage, she should shake the hand of the person from whom she is taking the stage from and shake the hand of the person when she is handing the stage over.

Practice!

Like with most things in life, your introductory speech will be amazing if you put in the time to practice! We wrote an article on simple but effective ways you should practice for a speech – even if it’s just an introduction speech! Check it out to get some ideas.

While our content and the speaker’s credentials might be amazing, it is our delivery and manner of speaking that will sell the audience on those credentials.

So research, practice, time yourself, video record yourself to see how you can improve.

While the spotlight is on the main speaker for that particular day, the stage is yours for those couple of minutes. And I believe any time you go on stage you should try and communicate with maximum impact regardless of the duration of the speech.

That’s when people notice you.

Checklist

Here’s a checklist of things you must have in your introductory speech when it comes to content and delivery:

Introduce yourself

While you are here to introduce the main speaker, don’t forget to introduce yourself! If you’re in a familiar setting where you’re certain everyone (or at least 90%) of the audience already knows you, you can skip this part.

Otherwise, take a few seconds to point out what your role is in putting this event together and how you are related to the speaker (if in any way).

Pronunciation

There’s nothing worse than an introductory speaker who butchers the name of the speaker he is about to call on.

Take the time out to learn how exactly should you pronounce the speaker’s name especially if it’s an unconventional name.

Learn it, repeat it, master it.

Honorific

Check if your speaker has any title such as Doctor, Sir, Captain, etc. and say the title along with the speaker’s name when you introduce her. It helps add more credibility to the speaker.

Qualifications

Your speaker would have certain qualifications that make her an expert in the field she is about to speak on. It doesn’t necessarily need to be only educational in nature.

Maybe she has written a book on the subject and gains her expertise from real-life experience as opposed to an academic degree.

Mention those qualifications.

Quick tip, don’t just list out the credentials in a mundane manner. Read the speech template below and see how the speaker crafts the introduction where the qualifications and credentials of the speaker are seamlessly woven together to craft a great introduction.

Subject of the talk

In your introduction of the speaker, don’t miss out on talking a little on the subject of the talk and why it is relevant to the audience.

Creative Ways to Introduce a Speaker

Anecdote

Instead of just stating out the speaker’s credentials and bio, make your introduction engaging by adding a short anecdote of the speaker.

Talk about a time you met the speaker or an interesting story you read about her in a publication.

You can even reach out to a close family member or friend of the speaker and ask them for a story that defines the speaker’s personality or establishes their expertise in the subject matter.

Nickname

Some speakers don’t necessarily have an honorific such as ‘Dr.’ or ‘Sir’, but that doesn’t mean that you cant give them a creative title of your own!

Tom Bilyeu does this often where he will add a title to the speaker right before saying the name. Here are some examples:

  • Please help me welcoming…the ‘human guinea pig’ himself, Tim Ferris.
  • Please help me welcoming…the ‘master of motivation’ herself, Mel Robbins.
  • Please help me welcoming…the ‘man who has been called the ultimate entrepreneur for the information age’, Seth Godin.

Props

I remember this one time, we were at a conference where the speaker was a gold medal cyclist.

The introductory speaker entered the stage on a cycle himself! As he came to the mike, he said, “Boy that was fun! But if you think I was awesome, you will be completely blown away by our next speaker!”

The introductory speaker was obviously being sarcastic about himself being an ‘awesome cyclist’. But it was different, fun, made the audience giggle and set the stage for the speaker.  

If the speaker you are about to introduce is an author, for instance, you can also start off your introduction by holding up the book and then move on to talk about the speaker’s credentials.

Think about what your speaker is famous for and see if you can include that profession as a prop in your introduction.

Video

Instead of just talking in your introduction, maybe you can show a video that highlights what the speaker does and shows off their credibility.

I was introducing an entrepreneur of a HUGE advertising agency. Instead of talking about his credentials, I thought I’d just show it to the audience by playing a video of the agency’s culture, clients and some of the extraordinary work they have done.

It was a great visual way to showcase the speaker’s credibility and set the tone for the subject of the speech.

Introduction Speech Template

Here’s a template of how Tom Bilyeu introduces one of his guests:

“Hey everyone!  Welcome to Impact Theory. You are here, my friends, because you believe that the human potential is nearly limitless but you know that having potential is not the same as doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that’ll help you actually execute on your dream.

Alright. To paraphrase Steven Pressfield, today’s guest is one of the greatest thinkers of our generation. He’s a multiple-time best selling author who’s written a seemingly impossible six books in the last five years!

His mediation on stoic philosophy ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ is not only a true perennial seller, it’s been translated into more than 20 languages and has a devoted following of some of the most driven and successful people on the planet including NFL coaches, world-class athletes, entrepreneurs, TV personalities and even political leaders. By my estimation, it is one of the 10 most important books you must read if you want to develop a mindset for success.

And even if this were his only book I’d sit at his feet to learn, but every book he has written delivers a similar level of impact. This guy is without question my intellectual man-crush Monday!

The Systematic and practical nature of his thinking is so powerful it’s nuts, especially considering that he dropped out of college at 19 so he could apprentice with the master author, Robert Greene, and by all accounts, my friends, he learned his lessons very well as he went on from there not only to become an amazing author in his own right, but in his early 20s became the Director of Marketing for the billion-dollar public company American Apparel helping it achieve its astronomical level of success, and in the process, becoming one of the most sought-after voices in the field of media strategy.

His incredible marketing tactics detailed in the book ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ not only became a best-seller, it helped him launch his own media-consulting company, Brass Check, which has advised companies like Google, Taser and Complex as well as world-renowned authors such as Neil Strauss, Tim Ferris and Tony Robbins.

So please, help me in welcoming the best selling author of ‘Ego is the Enemy’ and most recently, ‘Perennial Seller’, the modern-day, philosopher king – Ryan Holiday.

Let’s break that introduction down:

Research

We can clearly see that Tom has done his research by pointing out almost every accomplishment Ryan Holiday is known for. This is what gets the audience excited about the speaker and looks forward to the ideas that will be shared in the subsequent talk or interview.

Keeping it short

The introduction is in the appropriate time-span of 2-3 minutes. Considering the amount of information that had to be said, the timing is bang on!

Saving the name for the end

By saving the name for the end, Tom reserves the maximum applause when he finally reveals who the person is.

Leading the applause

Tom did not lead the applause here maybe because it’s a studio audience who are sure to clap for the guest. Additionally, the way Tom introduces the guest is good enough to stimulate applause without him having to lead it.

Receiving the speaker with a handshake

Tom goes a small step further and bro-hugs the guest to showcase his bond with him.

Practice

Without any notes and his amazing delivery, it’s obvious Tom has taken the time out to not only research but also practice and rehearse the introduction.

Notice how Tom uses voice modulation to make the audience feel how important Ryan’s accomplishments really are. A handy thing to keep in mind for any speech. You can read this article we wrote to learn all about voice modulation and tonality for effective speaking.

Nickname

As I stated earlier with multiple examples, Tom adds in a nickname to the speaker here as well – ‘the modern-day, philosopher king’ – right before saying the name. It just adds so much weight to the introduction!

There’s a lot we can learn from this introduction whether it be a speaker you are introducing or an interview guest which is why I thought I’d break it down.

Final Words…

I believe that a strong introduction should also be treated as a speech. It’s tempting to do a basic Google Search and little “rehearsal” right before going on stage.

But it’s only when you take the time out to research, rehearse and deliver with the intention to excite the audience about the speaker you are introducing, is when you will do justice to the introduction and set the stage for the speaker to create maximum impact!

You should also consider upskilling your public speaking at an overall level. If you’re serious about it, check out this online course called Acumen Presents: Chris Anderson on Public Speaking (hosted on Udemy). It’s helped me gain a lot of insight into delivering speeches (even if they are just introductory speeches) that people will remember. Being the founder of TED, Chris Anderson provides numerous examples of the best TED speakers to give us a very practical way of overcoming stage fear and delivering a speech that people will remember.

Note: Want to take your communications skills to the next level? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our expert communication coaches. We’ll look under the hood of your hurdles and pick two to three growth opportunities so you can speak with impact!

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