Introductions: 6 Vital Strategies for Success

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

Winston Churchill

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Introductions: 6 Vital Strategies for Success

By Rich Hopkins

Rich Hopkins is a speaker, author and coach who teaches his clients to Leap from Acceptable to Exceptional. He has 20 years of business background in marketing, sales, and customer service. He consults with individuals, student groups, non-profit organizations, and corporations. Rich is available for keynote presentations, seminars, training, as well as group or one-to-one coaching. Contact him at:

You’ve done all the hard work. You know your topic. You know your audience. Your words are precisely chosen and your delivery is practiced. You see your introducer walking up to the lectern, and you realize – “I have no idea who this person is!” As they give their introduction, it is clear they don’t know you, either.

Introductions can either set you up brilliantly, or leave you floundering for words as you begin. If you don’t take control over your introduction, you are asking for trouble. Name mispronunciations, unrelated comments, and inappropriate humor are par for the course when an introducer is forced to fend for their self on stage. Often they have been recruited at the last minute, or are too frazzled by managing the event to give you a strong start. Whatever the case, if your introduction is weak, you likely have no one to blame but yourself.

6 Strategies for Great Introductions:

Write it yourself. This is not a strategy as much as a requirement. Your introduction is the audience’s first impression of you, so make sure its positive, intelligent, and understandable.

Use humor when it’s appropriate (and its almost always appropriate). Even if you are speaking on a serious topic, the intro is about you. Creating a lighter atmosphere will open the audience up to consider the importance of your subject. Tip: Self-deprecating humor – this is a great time to make the audience identify with you. Be sure the humor is universal, and doesn’t cost you credibility. Run it by a mentor or friend first.

No laundry lists.
Unless you are giving an academic dissertation, the audience is not likely to want to hear about your multiple degrees and other awards. The list is probably in the event program. Tip: Use the unexpected – if you are highly decorated, make a list of accomplishments and hobbies the audience will find humorous. Little known facts bring people closer to you.

End with your name.
“Welcome Johnny Smith!” is a cue to the audience to applaud, and you to get up and work your magic. Of course, most introducers will use your name throughout, just out of habit – but the ending cue is vital to avoid confusion.

Know you introducer.
Find out ahead of time whose introducing you, and send them your written introduction. Be sure to include pronunciations of difficult names or terms, and ask them to read it to you over the phone. Tip: Even if you’ve given it to them in advance, always bring a copy with you, in 36 pt. type, to ensure it makes it to the event.

Be prepared for the worst.
Even when you’ve done all you can, people are unpredictable. Be ready to overcome a bad introduction when someone goes off script, or simply reads it incorrectly. Be ready with a glib remark, or use the introduction you’d had in mind as part of your open.

Use these 6 strategies to preserve all the hard work you’ve put into your presentation. Your introduction is your first chance to win over your audience. When you get a great laugh out of your introduction, you know they are primed for your message. The more the audience knows about you as a person, the more they will care about you and what you have to say.

The Greatest Speech I Never Delivered

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