The Art of the Intro

Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Part of my role as a board member with the Association for Talent Development is to introduce speakers at chapter meetings.  Once, in a multi-chapter event, the President of the other organization (who I'd just met), decided at the last minute that she was going to introduce me.  She pulled old information from the internet five minutes before show-time and presented a profile of me that was completely irrelevant to what I was doing at present.  It was a poorly worded hodge-podge of broken, outdated information.  Not only were people wondering what I was doing there in the first place, but worse, it looked like I provided the material.  As a result, I felt foolish walking in front of the group of 200 or so people to introduce the morning's speaker. All I could do was suck it up and smile.

Making live introductions for people is a very important role for many reasons 
First - you want to get your audience focused and enthusiastic about the event
Second - you want to make sure the audience likes your speaker before they begin speaking
Third - you want to make the speaker feel good and feel that they're liked before they begin speaking
Fourth - you want to make yourself and the organization you represent look good

Don't Read Their Bio
Everyone can read a professional bio and it's usually already included in the publication materials for an event.  Although there may be many impressive accolades in a bio, most are not interesting to hear when narrated.  We are relationship beings constantly looking to make connections.  If I see a live presentation, I want that multi-dimensional quality that only a live person can provide.  Otherwise, I'll stay home and read it on-line.

Get Personal
I always interview presenters beforehand to tailor their intros.  I find out basic information like where they're from and went to school, how they started in their career, and pick and choose material by asking:
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?  This is what I'll focus on in the intro as well as whatever they're doing currently
What is your guilty (or not-so-guilty) little pleasure when no one's around?
What do you like to do with your family when you have time off?
What's your big, bad, bold idea for the future?  This could be personal or professional (the more fun the better)

Use Language Tools that Organize and Draw Attention
The Power of Threes - it's easily digestible, models a beginning, middle and end, and makes a great closer... "Please help me to welcome future bowling champion, garden guru and leadership legend... Mr. John Doe"
Alliteration - draws attention and can help make things fun and down to earth    Fun Facts, Hot Hazy and Humid, Big Bad Bold
Juicy Language - use words that are down to earth and tap into the 5 senses, you decide what's appropriate for your audience 

By including just a few professional highlights around what they do and are most proud of, revealing some fun facts that we wouldn't know otherwise, and giving a sense of who they are as human beings honors the speaker much more and allows the audience to connect with them in a multi-dimensional way.  This is a Win-Win that softens the tone and makes the gathering closer to a warm, welcoming conversation rather than a buttoned-up presentation.  Which audience would you want to be in?

Make the audience smile, make the presenter feel good, set an energized yet friendly, conversational tone.  How can you go wrong?