Guest Speaker Introductions:
Part of Your Curriculum?
Is the art of introducing a guest speaker part of your job? Typically the answer to this question is no. Should it be? Absolutely, because there are occasions when you are called upon to host important meetings/events sponsored by your company. Your introduction of the speaker is critical for soliciting buy-in from the audience. How you introduce a speaker will create greater impact for the speaker. It sets the tone for the speech. It's easy to assume that because executives are very adept at communicating with people individually or in groups, they are equally at ease with something as simple as introducing a speaker. That might be true if the only thing the executive has to do is to stand in front of the group and say: "Good evening. It's my pleasure to introduce to you Dr. A. B. Smith, Director of Clinical Research at Clyde Memorial Hospital". Unfortunately it's not quite that simple. The Need for Understanding
Given the importance of these events, there are important reasons to become comfortable with introductions.
-It pays tribute and respect to the speaker
-It helps minimize the inevitable attack of "butterflies" that will set in when one is unprepared. It's very natural, even for the most confident executive to be nervous when speaking before any group. They need to know that: "It's okay to have butterflies as long as they fly in formation". This metaphor has always been very comforting to me in my career as a trainer and speaker because it gives me permission to be human. However, I've also found that the more prepared I am, the less likely I am to sink into a state of panic. Will a good introduction assure a successful presentation? Not necessarily. However, while a good introduction may not make up for a bad presentation, a poor introduction can turn people away from the best of presentations. The last thing you want to happen is to have the audience disappear. Effective Introductions
According to Peter Urs Bender, a master at presentation skills, there are three steps in delivering an effective introduction. The 3 Steps of Effective Introductions
1. Establish the importance of the topic.
2. Relate the immediacy of the topic.
3. Highlight the speaker's qualifications.
Establish the importance of the topic.
After greeting the audience, the executive should begin by creating a context for the presentation with a concrete example to which the audience can relate. For example, let's assume that the speaker being introduced was the lead investigator on a study evaluating the effectiveness of a new antibiotic against gram-positive bacteria which have become resistant to most antibiotics. The audience consists of prominent researchers, scientists and doctors. The executive might begin with: "Rising morbidity and mortality due to resistant staph infections in hospitals are of deep concern to all clinicians. Tonight we will hear about the results of a study involving Staphkil, a new antibiotic with a mechanism of action that promises to put an end to bacterial resistance as we know it". Relate the immediacy of the topic.
The next step is to relate precisely how the information the audience is about to hear will help them achieve their personal and professional goals. The object is to hook the audience immediately. "As clinicians deeply concerned with the question of bacterial resistance, I'm certain you will find the data presented today to be very exciting." Highlight the speaker's qualifications to address the topic. The executive should conclude with a brief resume of the speaker's credentials, clinical specialty, and research accomplishments. As the speaker's name is announced, the executive should continue to face the audience so that the speaker's name is not lost through a premature turn of the head, and voice volume should be increased. Then they should say: "I'm delighted...