The Speech Introduction

When people who speak hear the phrase “speech introduction,” they often think of the introduction portion of their speech as opposed to the introduction that is given to them prior to their talk. While most speakers spend a significant amount of time on the former, very few put a lot of effort (if any) into the latter.

It’s too bad because a speech introduction is a great opportunity to make a great speech even better. An effective introduction sets the tone for your speech. It provides the audience with a background on you and your expertise and a well written introduction can help create interest in you and your speech.

What should be in your speech introduction:

In general, your speech introduction should answer the following four questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why are you here?
  3. What are you going to talk about?
  4. Why should the audience listen to you?

Additionally, you may have other goals for your introduction. If you’ve won an award or have a major accomplishment, you can add it to your introduction so that it doesn’t look like you’re bragging about yourself during your speech.

If your selling products at the event, it’s best to have the person introducing you say that copies of your latest book/CD/DVD/etc… will be available at the autograph table after your talk.

If you want to lighten up the crowd, add some humor such as “his/her last audience was glued to their seats. He/She did that so they couldn’t get up and walk away.”

What to do when the introducer messes up your speech introduction:

No matter how well you craft your speech introduction, you have to put it in the hands of someone else and that comes with its own set of risks. Keep in mind that public speaking is the number one social fear so just because you’re comfortable getting up in front of a group, doesn’t mean the person introducing you is. So it’s not uncommon for them to make mistakes.

If the person introducing you forgets your speech introduction completely and only states your name and your topic, be sure to start off by saying “I’d like to take a moment and introduce myself to you” to the the audience and answer the four questions above.

Another common mistake is that the introducer may leave out critical parts of your speech introduction. If this is the case, try to work them into your speech and/or Q&A.

It’s not uncommon for an introducer to misread or misstate facts from your speech introduction. If this happens, try to clarify it in a polite manner when you start your speech. You can try something like “Sorry, with all the excitement around this event, there must have been a little bit of a miscommunication somewhere. I’m actually from Boston, not Boise.” Make sure that you never insult or embarrass the person introducing you if they make a mistake. Poke fun at yourself instead.

Other Speech Introduction tips:

  • Always take two printed copies of your intro with you to the event. People often misplace things prior to an event but sometimes they misplace them at the event as well.
  • If you’ve revised your introduction, make sure that the person introducing you has the very latest version and discard any older versions.
  • Don’t summarize your speech or main points in your speaker introduction, save that for your speech.
  • Your introduction should be double-spaced and in 12 point type for easy readability.

When you’re preparing for your next big talk, make sure that you don’t overlook your speech introduction. It’s an easy, effective and powerful tool to help you accomplish your speaking goals.

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