How to Get Introduced When Speaking
by Gilda Bonanno
When you have to speak to a crowd, how should you handle getting introduced?
1. Write your own introduction. Think about which of your many credentials or past experience examples will be most relevant to this particular audience. For example, I'm speaking at a Project Management Conference in May and I will include in my intro include the fact that I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). However, when I speak to groups of entrepreneurs and small business owners, I don't include that credential in my intro because it doesn't mean that much to that particular audience.
2. Make it short. It's helpful if the audience has a longer bio in front of them on your handout or in the invitation they received, so then your actual introduction can be much shorter - just a few sentences.
3. Practice. Find out who will introduce you and go over it with him or her on the phone or in person when you arrive early to the event. Ideally, have her or him practice reading it, in case there is difficult pronunciation or unusual emphasis required. For example, at a recent meeting I attended, the keynote speaker (legendary speaker Jim Cathcart, http://www.cathcart.com/) was introduced with a long list of all the unusual jobs he has held and the final words, "he may not be able to hold a job [pause] but he can hold an audience." This last line got a laugh as planned and which required practice for that pause to be effective.
4. Bring copies. In fact, bring two copies of the introduction to the event, to use "just in case." It should be printed on one sheet in large font so the person can read it easily without glasses. (I also include the phonetic spelling of my name - as in "Gilda"is pronounced "Jilda" in case a different person introduces than the one I talked with earlier).
5. Be confident and not cocky. While you are being introduced, look humble and smile gently. If you're uncomfortable looking at the audience during the intro which is praising you, then look at the introducer or somewhere just off to the side of the introducer (where it will not look like you are deliberately avoiding eye contact).
6. Have a backup plan. In the rare case that you have to introduce yourself, you need to be ready. This happened to my colleague, Lynn, at one of the first presentations she made to a professional group nearly 20 years ago. Lynn provided a written introduction to the client who agreed to introduce her. But when it was time to start, the client simply said, "Lynn will introduce herself"! Luckily, despite her surprise and relative inexperience, Lynn was able to recover, introduce herself and go on with her talk as planned. You can be sure that since that event, Lynn always brings a self-introduction with her!
If you follow these tips, your introduction will help put you on the path to a successful presentation.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.
Copyright (c) 2009