Introductions are so important that professional speakers usually provide their own. They know what it is like to be on the receiving end of a bad introduction - they spend the first ten minutes of their speech desperately trying to win their audience back.
The worst experiences are when you have provided an introduction but the MC (normally some bumbling employee because the organisation are yet to learn the value of a real MC) decides not to use it and instead provide their own moment of genius. It's a bit like watching a car crash - you know it isn't going to be pretty but you can't turn away so you have to resign yourself to the carnage ahead.
The problem of course is that people don't know how to introduce someone. So here are some quick tips on how to put together a great introduction.
If you’re writing an introduction, there are basically three questions that you need to answer for your audience:
- What is the speech about?
- Why are we discussing this topic?
- Why is this the person to talk about it?
Let's deal with the first question - what is the speech about? The key here is not to give away too much - you are providing the introduction, not the speech. Make sure you explain the subject matter succinctly and in a context that your audience can relate to.
In fact, that context is really what the second question is all about; why are we discussing this topic? Essentially we are answering the questions why here and why now. It is important to convey why this topic is of particular importance at this moment in time.
Thirdly, of course, why is this the person to talk about it? What are the credentials, experience or expertise this speaker has that gives him or her the authority to address this particular subject? Not all of their experience and credentials - just the ones that relate to this particular audience.
Your role in all of this is to set the tone for what is to come so don't oversell it and don't undersell it either. Keep it simple, get to the point and, above all, remain relevant to your audience.
Oh... and, by the way, the very last words out of your mouth should be the name of the speaker - that's who we are all here for!