When you’re the Master of Ceremonies, one of your main roles is to introduce each speaker. The speaker could provide the introduction or it could be scripted by you.
Here is a short list of introduction aspects I think you should be mindful of.
- Have you ever heard, “Our next speaker doesn’t need an introduction…”? Really? Well if that’s true, do we need you as an MC? Everybody deserves an introduction. If you want to make the point that the speaker is well-known and loved by all, I recommend you say so as part of your introduction.
- An introduction serves to set up the speaker for success, allows them to star and provides a segue into their topic.
- The introduction, especially the title, should arouse curiosity and leave them keen to listen.
- If the speaker provides you with their introduction, ask them if they are happy for you to edit it, to suit your presentation style. If not, stick to the script and do everything to deliver it the best you can.
- If you are the speaker, I recommend that you provide you’re own introduction and ask for it to be read precisely the way you’ve written it. If it goes pear shape, at least you mainly have yourself to blame.
Writing an introduction
Check out my introduction to a Microphone Workshop, titled “Speak Up”, that I’ll be referring to in the points below.
The introduction should be short enough to fit on one page. I recommend half a page. This is because the introducer is not the main speaker and it also allows the font size to be increased for readability.
Instead of, “And our next speaker…”, I normally like the MC to start straight into the introduction. I usually like the introduction to start with a rhetorical question. This involves the audience up front and gets them thinking about what you want to get across. It’s what Craig Valentine likes to call, the “Tap & Transport” technique.
I also believe in the power of the pause. That’s why I like to separate the main points, into paragraphs. It encourages the MC to pause, and it makes it easier to find where they left off, especially after making eye contact with the audience.
In my introduction example, you probably noticed that I insert spaces in parts of each sentence by using full stops. The number of full stops indicates the length of the pause. I believe these pauses provide greater impact. They are there mainly to help less experience MCs to pause. For experienced MCs, it may be teaching them how to suck eggs, however, I suspect they will still appreciate it and find it helpful.
They say that most people come from the perspective of WIIFM, that is What’s-In-It-For-Me? So when you start a sentence with, “I would now like to…”, people subconsciously think, “I don’t really care what you would like”. Harsh, but true. So if you rephrase it with, “Tonight you’re going to get…”, you’re tapping into WIIFM. I also like the MC to tell them what they’re going to get just before they actually introduce me.
I recommend that the last part of your introduction should introduce the speech title, welcome the speaker and lead into the applause. I like the MC to say the title twice, just in case they don’t hear it the first time. Take care not to phrase any early parts of the introduction, to falsely indicate the end and time to applaud.
My example that you can check out by clicking the link, is but one example, only to illustrate my points.
Presenting an Introduction
I strongly recommend that you read the introduction a number of times well before the event. I suggest you rehearse the introduction a number of times. If you can memorise parts of it, that might help, especially should you lose your place.
What to do, if for some reason you do not have an introduction for a surprise speaker? I recommend you interview the speaker asap before the meeting time. Find out a bit about the topic, the title and the benefit for the audience. Also a bit about the speaker’s credentials. Then use your impromptu speaking skills to deliver the introduction.
Avoid upstaging the speaker and on the other hand, don’t over promote the speaker.
An introduction is a mini-speech that involves all the tips recommended in my Speech Writing post and other posts.
Your aim, in presenting any introduction, is to set up the speaker for success and help them star and shine.
Speak to Connect, to make that difference.