The Importance of Stage Introductions
There’s a famous quote, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” You have to think of your stage introduction as your first impression. Even though it’s someone else talking for you, it’s still the first impression the audience has of you. It really sets the context for what they’re going to think about you, how they’re going to perceive your presentation and whether or not they really are going to engage with you.
Components of a High-Quality Stage Introduction
The stage introduction should create interest in your talk. It may seem a little bit counterintuitive in that they’re introducing you, but you wanted to create some interests. If you have a great title, you want the person introducing you to talk a little bit about that. You want to establish your credibility with the audience. You want to make sure that they know you’re credible, that when you take the stage, they want to listen to you because you really do know what you’re talking about. You’ve lived it, you’ve done it. You’re somebody that really needs to be listened to and really absorbed.
Who Should Read the Introduction
One of the challenges people have when getting someone to introduce them is, who should do it? Sometimes, it’s the event organizer. You really want it to be someone who’s comfortable in the front of the room. You want it to be someone who can read well. Be aware that sometimes when someone knows you too well, they tend to improvise. If you wanted them to read it as you’ve written it, you need to make sure that have a conversation about how you should be introduced.
Taking Control of the Introduction
The best advice I have for speakers is take control of your introduction. Don’t let someone else control how you’re going to be introduced to the audience. It’s not enough just to provide a bio to the event organizer and let them figure out what’s important. Speakers should create a 30 to 45-second introduction that fits on one page, double spaced, 12 to 14-point type. Why do you do that? Well, you want to have something to hand to the emcee or to the event organizer to say, “Here’s my intro, just read it.” Obviously, you wouldn’t be quite that abrupt, but you want to hand them something. Having been on the other side of it, let me tell you that they will be thrilled if you do that. They’ve got many things going on with the event that they’re trying to coordinate and, unfortunately, creating your introduction is not going to be at the top of their list. The more you can help them out, the better off they’re going to be and the better off you’re going to be. Another little trick is to bring two copies of the one-page introduction. That way, if it gets misplaced, you have another copy to hand the person who will be introducing you right before it’s time.
What to include in Your Introduction
You want to make sure that the audience knows that you really are an expert in the field you’re talking about and that you have related experience. Once that is established, they can begin to form a connection with you. They want to know that you’ve actually done something in your field. You’ve experienced it, you’ve gotten awards for it, you are really an expert and they really should listen. You want to provide a story and – you want to share a little bit about the business as you found it, the organizations you’ve been with, some of the awards that you’ve gotten, etc. You want people to feel like, “Oh, this could be me.”
The Importance of the Introductory Visual Aide
One more aspect of your presentation to plan carefully is the first slide in your visual presentation. It’s likely that while your introduction is being read, that slide is going to be up on the screen. That’s really expensive real estate. You don’t want to waste it on a nice picture of you and your name, or the name of the presentation. Everybody already knows what the presentation is about. You want to have something really engaging and interesting on that slide that captures people’s attention while your introduction is being read. One great idea is to put a quote on that slide so that people start to read your slides and listen to your introduction at the same time. They’ll start to get the idea that your presentation is going to be content-rich. They’ll start to think, “This is going to be interesting. I need to sit on the edge of my seat and really pay attention.”