I am often asked to help executives and others who need to introduce a speaker. People often become quite anxious and end up reading – yes, just reading – pages and pages of a CV. That certainly does not set the scene and make your speaker feel welcome. You want them to perform at their best!
Nine tips on introducing a speaker
- Speak to the audience (not to the speaker)
- Make sure your introduction is relevant to the audience, the topic and the occasion. For example, an introduction at a function held on the beach would need a different tone to an introduction at a formal dinner at a convention centre.
- Keep it simple and brief. The length should be proportionate to the length and complexity of the speaker’s presentation. A two-minute introduction would be appropriate for a one-hour presentation whereas it would be too long for a five-minute speech.
- Show genuine appreciation of the speaker – no flattery or anything which may cause embarrassment
- Have a ‘personal touch’. Show that you have at least spoken to the speaker before the event. For example, refer to one of the questions you asked the speaker and include the answer given. ‘When I asked our speaker where his interest began, he replied that…’
- Smile, relax, be friendly and yet professional
- Remember that your role is to set the scene and help ‘put the spotlight’ on the speaker. It is not your personal ‘time to shine’ so don’t try to ‘steal the show’.
- Introducing a speaker is a skill that can be learned. And practice is important.
- Use a simple formula to organise your thoughts and make it easy for the audience to follow.
A simple formula
You can learn how to introduce a speaker in a simple and yet efficient way. I find that the ‘TIS formula’ can be adapted to most situations. Let’s have a look at it:
- T Topic
- I Important
- S Speaker
So the questions we ask ourselves in preparation are:
What is the ‘topic’? Stating the topic at the beginning makes the purpose of the talk (or other presentation) clear. The audience will know clearly what the speaker is going to speak about, without the introducer pre-empting what approach the speaker might choose to take.
Why is this topic important to this audience at this time? (The purpose is to engage the audience. How relevant is the topic to them?)
What qualifies this speaker to speak to this audience on this topic?
Example of an introduction using the ‘TIS formula’
So, let’s look at a real-life example. In February I introduced the speaker at the Leadership Forum run by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business. And this is how I applied the ‘TIS formula’.
‘Our topic this evening is Lessons in Leadership.’ (Keep it simple.)
‘We are here this evening because leadership is important to all of us. The purpose of the Leadership Forum is to promote awareness of quality leadership within the Chamber community. We can gain great insights from a new, fresh approach in training young people in leadership. And we can transfer these insights to our own situations in the corporate environment. It could help us to be less complacent and consider applying new approaches in our own leadership roles. That could be one of the great benefits this evening.’
‘Our speaker this evening is the Director of the Treverton Post-matric programme. His role includes leading and managing young people, who are spending a year engaged in adventure pursuits while they strengthen their leadership ability and work as members of teams. Athol has constantly needed to adapt his own leadership role in dealing with the dynamic needs of young people within the College structure. Combining leadership development and outdoor adventures has often been challenging.
During the twelve years that Athol has been in this position he has consolidated his vast experience into a series of lessons, a summary of which he will share with us this evening.
When I asked Athol when he felt his interest in leadership had begun, he answered that his interest was ignited at a young age when he was privileged in being involved in a feeding programme which his mother courageously initiated. She saw a need and pursued goals at a time when it was hard to work cross-culturally in rural areas. Working in youth church groups strengthened his interest in leadership and he later held the position of programme facilitator at L’Abri where outdoor leadership programmes for corporates and youth groups were the focus.
Athol Davies achieved a BSc degree, Honours degree and Higher Diploma of Education from the University of Natal. Having grown up in this area, he attended Maritzburg College. He is married to Gayle and they have two children and live on the beautiful Treverton College Estate in Mooi River.
Please join me in welcoming Athol Davies…….’
For more information on the Treverton Post-matric programme, or to engage Athol as a speaker, please phone +27 33 263 1927 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . The website is http://www.treverton.co.za/post-matric.html