Guest Speaker Introductions:
Part of Your Curriculum?
the art of introducing a guest speaker part of
your job? Typically the answer to this question
is no. Should it be? Absolutely, because there
are occasions when you are called upon to host
important meetings/events sponsored by your company.
introduction of the speaker is critical for soliciting
buy-in from the audience. How you introduce a
speaker will create greater impact for the speaker.
It sets the tone for the speech.
easy to assume that because executives are very
adept at communicating with people individually
or in groups, they are equally at ease with something
as simple as introducing a speaker. That might
be true if the only thing the executive has to
do is to stand in front of the group and say:
"Good evening. It's my pleasure to introduce to
you Dr. A. B. Smith, Director of Clinical Research
at Clyde Memorial Hospital". Unfortunately it's
not quite that simple.
The Need for Understanding
the importance of these events, there are important
reasons to become comfortable with introductions.
-It pays tribute and respect
to the speaker
-It helps minimize the inevitable attack of "butterflies"
that will set in when one is unprepared.
very natural, even for the most confident executive
to be nervous when speaking before any group.
They need to know that: "It's okay to have butterflies
as long as they fly in formation".
metaphor has always been very comforting to me
in my career as a trainer and speaker because
it gives me permission to be human. However, I've
also found that the more prepared I am, the less
likely I am to sink into a state of panic.
a good introduction assure a successful presentation?
Not necessarily. However, while a good introduction
may not make up for a bad presentation, a poor
introduction can turn people away from the best
of presentations. The last thing you want to happen
is to have the audience disappear.
According to Peter Urs Bender, a
master at presentation skills, there are three
steps in delivering an effective introduction.
|The 3 Steps of Effective
Establish the importance of the topic.
Relate the immediacy of the topic.
Highlight the speaker's qualifications.
importance of the topic.
After greeting the audience, the
executive should begin by creating a context for
the presentation with a concrete example to which
the audience can relate.
For example, let's assume that the
speaker being introduced was the lead investigator
on a study evaluating the effectiveness of a new
antibiotic against gram-positive bacteria which
have become resistant to most antibiotics. The
audience consists of prominent researchers, scientists
and doctors. The executive might begin with:
"Rising morbidity and mortality
due to resistant staph infections in hospitals
are of deep concern to all clinicians. Tonight
we will hear about the results of a study involving
Staphkil, a new antibiotic with a mechanism of
action that promises to put an end to bacterial
resistance as we know it".
Relate the immediacy
of the topic.
The next step is to relate precisely
how the information the audience is about to hear
will help them achieve their personal and professional
goals. The object is to hook the audience immediately.
"As clinicians deeply concerned with the question
of bacterial resistance, I'm certain you will
find the data presented today to be very exciting."
Highlight the speaker's
qualifications to address the topic.
The executive should conclude with
a brief resume of the speaker's credentials, clinical
specialty, and research accomplishments. As the
speaker's name is announced, the executive should
continue to face the audience so that the speaker's
name is not lost through a premature turn of the
head, and voice volume should be increased. Then
they should say: "I'm delighted to introduce Dr.
Stone, an expert in the area of bacterial research.
For the last 20 years, Dr. Stone has..."
Once the speaker has been introduced,
the executive should turn, face the speaker with
a friendly welcoming facial expression, and remain
standing in this position until the speaker rises
and acknowledges the introduction. Then the executive
should then sit down.
The first thing that builds
confidence is to prepare your introduction ahead
of time. You must concentrate on establishing
a positive mind set with reinforcing self-talk.
You should tell yourself that "I'm going to be
- Write out the introduction in
full. This will create a pleasant harmony between
subject, audience, and yourself.
- An ideal length is a maximum
of one to one and one-half minutes (100-200
- When you are satisfied with the
content, type the text using upper and lower-case
letters in a large type size (font) - 14 point
if you have a computer, or use all upper case
if on a typewriter - marking places for pauses
or special emphasis.
- Memorize the first three sentences
and the last two sentences and practice pronouncing
the speaker's name correctly.
- Practice the entire introduction
in front of a mirror, friends, or a video camera,
using all the facial gestures that support the
content. Have others critique, how genuine and
believable you appear. There needs to be a continuity
between what is being said, how it's said, and
how you look when saying it.
Tips on Body Positioning
- Approach the audience head up
with a calm, confident stride.
- Balance weight equally, feet
slightly spread apart, and lean slightly forward.
- Face the audience and smile.
- Relax arms and fingers, arms
down by your side until ready to speak.
- Pause for a moment before beginning
- Avoid weight shifting, hunching
over, body swaying, finger fidgeting, clothing
adjustments, and "fig leaf" positioning.
- Use gestures sparingly and always
from above the waist to symbolize positive communication.
- Start gestures from the shoulder,
reaching out to the audience with open palms,
as if to invite the audience in.
- Start the upstroke of a gesture
well in advance of the word selected for emphasis.
- Avoid excessive, startling, abrupt,
or boring repetitive gestures and downward strokes.
Tips on Eye Contact
eye contact transforms audiences from dead bodies
to live participants. People listen with their
eyes. They may hear the words with their ears,
but they concentrate on what the executive is
saying when eye contact is personally established.
The executive must look at the audience as individuals,
and actually see them as opposed to simply looking
Tips on Delivery
Before you deliver your final introduction, have
them mark their written speeches, by highlighting
with a marker or underlining, where they wish
to emphasize specific words.
- Begin speaking
in a natural voice. Be authentic.
- Speak to the
audience as though carrying on an enlarged conversation.
- Vary pitch
gestures, pitch, and volume for emphasis.
Monitor the speed of delivery. The optimum for
audience understanding is 100-150 words per
sentence "trail-offs" and speaking in a tone
that is too loud, brash, sweet, or ends with
a question mark.
speaking in a monotone. This usually is caused
by anxiety and muscle tightening in the throat
and chest. To reduce nervousness prior to an
introduction, I recommend deep breathing exercises
or several large yawns. Any form of physical
activity is extremely helpful, even something
as simple as running in place in a private location
caffeinated beverages before presenting. Eliminate
any milk in your beverages as it stimulates
the mucous glands and causes you to want to
cough or clear your throat. Room temperature
water is best. Suck on a cough candy to coat
the throat before speaking.
luck, and who knows, you may be replacing Billy
Crystal at the next academy awards.