By C.L. Fornari
If you’re a speaker, you’ve been introduced to many audiences. Some of those introductions have undoubtedly been short and sweet while others have been long and rambling, non-existent, or (worst of all) inaccurate.
Sadly, program chairs might take information off your website that appeals to them personally. In doing so they might be ignoring your credentials, the audience’s interests, or the topic you’re presenting. Others might read your entire resume, so that the audience is on the edge of slumber when you take the stage. Yet these incidents can be avoided.
The answer is to write your own introduction and not only send it to the program chair before the event, but have it printed in large type and take it with you to your appearance. An introduction should of course be accurate, but that brief paragraph can serve you and enhance the audience’s experience. A good introduction should be tailored to your topic, the audience, and your overall professional goals. It should also have the audience warmed up, attentive and smiling.
If you aren’t writing your own introductions, you’re missing several opportunities. By providing your opening for each venue where you appear, you create immediate connections with the audience, make the audience receptive to your talk, and, if you’re also an author, increase back-of-the-room sales of your books.
Here are some tips for crafting an introduction that makes things easy for the program chair or event planner, creates an enjoyable experience for the audience from word one, and better promotes what you do.
- Avoid repeating what was in your bio that the group has used to promote the event. The audience has already read that information, so you’ll only be telling them what they already know.
- Keep your introduction to a short paragraph. A good introduction should be condensed down to about four to eight sentences.
- Write each introduction based on the audience that you’ll be speaking to. In other words, use what is said before you take the stage to set up what you want to accomplish in the talk and beyond.
Professional speaker Christine Cashen says “Your intro is not your bio. If people aren’t all looking at you after the intro and smiling, you’re doing it wrong.” Christine has made a formula for her introductions. She says that you should start out by asking three questions of the audience that you’ll be answering in your talk. An example would be, “Do you want to have more color in your landscape? Are you tired of buying plants that don’t perform well in your garden? Are you interested in annuals you can count on looking good from May through September?”
These questions give a hint to the audience about what you will be speaking about and they make an immediate connection with what your audience is interested in. The attendees perk up, thinking “I do want more color! I do want plants I can count on!”
Your introduction then goes on to give two credentials and a third that has a humanizing element having nothing to do with your topic. Example: “If so, you’re in the right room because today’s speaker is a garden writer, professional garden designer and a plant junkie.”
Finally, the introduction ends with “Please welcome annual expert, author of All About Annuals, and chocolate cookie lover, Rose Begonia!” Note that again the third thing mentioned is not what the audience expects. These are the small touches that have them smiling before you even take the stage.
Note that the speaker’s name is mentioned only at the end of the introduction. This is another way of making an introduction about the audience, not the person taking the podium.
Whether you use Cashen’s formula or one of your own, you can’t go wrong by crafting your introductions in advance so that they’re short, personal, and humorous.
Meet the Author
C.L. Fornari is a garden geek who fell into communications as a way to put a somewhat legitimate framework around a serious case of plant lust. Her garden at Poison Ivy Acres can be found on Cape Cod, and her website/blog at GardenLady.com.