You have spent hours preparing that important talk you need to give at a board meeting or a high profile event. You’ve done your homework and you’re sure you’ve developed killer material for your audience – which they should find both fascinating and compelling. And you’ve practiced what you plan to say so many times you could recite your speech in your sleep.
Fantastic. So, is that it? Are you good to go?
Have you also thought about any sentences that will be uttered about you before you say your very first word?
“Ladies and Gentlemen, our next speaker…”.
Any chance you don’t know exactly what’s going to be said next?
For far too many speakers, the answer is yes.
But, does it matter? Could this impact on how your audience might perceive you and what you have to say?
You bet! Yes!
As Lucky Luc would say “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. So why leave the first impressions people have of you to chance?
Your introduction is a part of your presentation
Think of your introduction as part of your presentation, part of the messages your audience will receive from you.
More importantly, think of your introduction as an opportunity:
- To set expectations (setting the stage)
- To bolster your credibility as a speaker
- To pique your audience’s interest in the theme you will address
- To keep control of your message
Don’t get me wrong, there are many experienced conference comperes or MCs who will do a good job of pulling out a few nuggets from your bio and tying these into the topic you will speak on. But many don’t. And, in any case, you shouldn’t expect anyone who introduces you to know as much about you and your presentation as you do. And you certainly don’t want your introduction to be anything less than engaging – or worse still, boring.
So what should you do?
Simple, always write your own introductions.
Decide what you want to have said about you and your topic before you say a single word.
Use your introduction to grab your audience’s attention and establish why they will want to listen to you. Be sure to keep your introduction really short and super-focused on what your audience will really care about – i.e. how what you will say may help or delight your audience. In other words, WIIFM (what’s in it for me).
The bottom line is this: When it comes to your introduction, don’t gamble. All introductions are not equal.
By writing your own introduction you will be doing the introducer and your audience a favour. Most people who have to introduce others will be delighted that you have made his/her job easier. In fact, most comperes will be thrilled to have a script that reads well and makes them look good.
And guess what? You’re off to a great start – first time, every time. Plan on it!