A concise and compelling event introduction can have a really positive impact on an audience, which is why it’s so important for event organisers to prepare and practice in advance of welcoming a guest speaker onto the stage.
The benefits of introducing a speaker
You’ve found a great keynote speaker for your event, now you need to ensure that your introduction does them justice. A great introduction can really kick-start your event – setting the tone for what’s ahead, adding a level of professionalism and boosting people’s interest.
Done well and it will convey to the audience who the speaker is and what expertise they are bringing to the event. Rather than have someone walk on stage and begin their presentation, take the time to craft an introduction and you will reap these benefits:
Give the speaker credibility
No one is expecting you to read out the speaker’s CV, but an overview of their professional achievements and career highlights can quickly communicate to the audience that they are in the presence of someone who is an expert in their particular field or industry.
Raise the audience’s excitement levels
An introduction will prepare people for the speaker, heightening their sense of anticipation and assuring them that the ticket cost or admission fee represents good value for money. It also confirms that the audience have made the right decision to spend their precious time attending your event and listening to some thought leadership, rather than doing something else.
Confirm the value of your event
Similarly, the introduction should demonstrate that the information the speaker is about to impart is important. They might be sharing a new piece of research or discussing a recent trend that your audience needs to get to grips with. Whatever it is, an effective introduction will tell the audience that they are receiving vital insights.
What should you include in your introduction to a speaker?
To introduce a speaker, you need to know who they are (sounds obvious, but it’s worth doing as much research as possible to get your facts straight) and what they will be talking about. Talk with them face-to-face, by phone or via email before the event to get a sense of their speech and why it’s relevant to the audience. Once you’ve done that, you can start to prepare an outline:
How to begin an introduction
Start your introduction by telling the audience what they’ll learn by listening to the speaker, providing the speaker’s credentials and including any other relevant information. Where relevant, praise the speaker for any award or official recognition they’ve received.
How to finish an introduction
Draw your introduction to a close with some light humour – maybe a quick anecdote about how you and the speaker’s paths have crossed in the past – or some words of wisdom – perhaps quote something the speaker has said in an interview or written in a book or article they’ve had published in order to give a greater sense of who they are.
Ideal length of time for an introduction
The clue is in the word: introduction. It should be short, succinct and swiftly move on to the main event – the speaker. There’s no rule for how long an introduction should last, but two to three minutes should give you enough time to cover the main points. Don’t complicate things with complex timelines or boring biographies, as this could cause embarrassment for the speaker and leave the audience feeling uninspired.
Get started with this sample event speaker introduction outline:
- Name: Finish your introduction with the speaker’s name and make sure you know exactly how to pronounce it – practice this part as much as possible in the lead up to the event.
- Title: How does the speaker want to be introduced – they might have several job titles, be a member of various boards and have a number of professional qualifications.
- Why this speaker? Explain why this particular speaker was chosen and establish their credibility. You should aim to convey the fact that the speaker is one of the best people in the industry and can offer actionable insights and valuable solutions concerning the topic being discussed.
- Relevance to subject: Think about how you frame the subject of the speech. In order to grab the audience’s attention, you could start with a surprising statistic or controversial statement, or you could pose a question.
Relevance to audience: How does the speaker’s subject affect the audience directly? Explain why you chose the topic and why you think the session will prove to be of interest to the audience.
What’s the difference between a biography and an introduction?
First things first – what is a speaker biography? As opposed to an introduction, a biography is conveyed from a third-person point of view and, as a result, is a lot less intimate. The easiest way to think about it is in terms of the different functions a speaker’s biography and an introduction serve.
A biography usually appears on an event’s website or in printed promotional material and is intended to be read by someone in silence. In comparison, the contents of an introduction – while still talking about the speaker – is more closely linked to the event and the topic under discussion.
Pro tips: What to avoid when introducing a speaker
A bad introduction is hard to recover from, so make sure you keep the speaker on your side and prepare the audience for what’s to come in the best way possible by avoiding these taboos:
Your information isn’t up to date
Check that the subject of the speech hasn’t changed and that you have the speaker’s correct name and job title. In addition, make sure you know how to pronounce the speaker’s name.
You’ve included irrelevant details
Keep the differences between a biography and an introduction at the front of your mind at all times. You do not want to bore the audience with information that’s not 100% relevant to the speaker and the subject they plan to talk about.
Your speech is too long
An introduction speech should not take more than three minutes or you run the risk of your audience switching off before the speaker even starts. That said, don’t rush through your speech in order to cover everything you want to say – pause for breath and don’t bombard the audience.
You have a sense of humour failure
Only make a joke if you are sure if will amuse the speaker and the audience, this isn’t a comedy routine and the last thing you want to do is cause offence. Similarly, avoid talking about sensitive, embarrassing or personal information without the speaker’s approval. Getting to grips with best practice around managing your event speakers can help you strike the right tone.
You haven’t consulted the speaker
Ask the speaker what they would like you to say in their introduction, they might be able to suggest a useful angle to include.
Like many aspects of event organising, writing and delivering a great event speaker introduction speech can be learned and improved through practice.