I once heard a guest speaker’s intro that was longer than the speech. At first, I was amused because the person assigned to introduce the guest speaker was introduced for about 11 minutes long.
He greeted everyone on the stage. He made some comments about the dignitaries who seemed to love the spotlight focused on them. The last time I saw something similar was at a conference of barangay officials.
At first, he read the curriculum vitae word for word. He mentioned every award and degree earned. It was evident that the speaker stayed in school longer than any of us.
Then, he shared stories of how he met the speaker, his first impressions, and the common values they hold. I counted that he mentioned “finally” seven times to signal that he was about to call the speaker.
“Without further ado, let us welcome my idol, the one and only, the honorable…”
It was not the longest introduction I have seen, but nine minutes is a long time to introduce a speaker.
When I was in college, I realized that the more insecure the speaker is, the longer the introduction becomes.
For example, the President of the Philippines is often introduced only with “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the Republic of the Philippines.” The more dignified the person is, the shorter the introduction is.
I am not suggesting that introducing a speaker is not important. An excellent introduction by the guest speaker establishes rapport and trust, and it helps the audience understand why they must stay and listen.
You can write an excellent introduction to the guest speaker. It is easier than most people imagined. You can learn patterns and ways of delivery.
And I will share with you some tips that you will not find elsewhere as I am going to speak based on experience.
What is a guest speaker?
A guest speaker is an outsider invited to speak about a specific topic. The guest speaker can be a celebrity, a respected person, or a subject-matter expert. As an outsider, the speaker may share ideas that the audience has not heard before.
Guest speaker is an umbrella term for many kinds of speakers who are not a member of the organization or community that organized the event.
Most keynote speakers, motivational speakers, business speakers, and leadership speakers are guest speakers. Professional speakers, or those speakers paid to speak, are essentially guest speakers too.
The keynote speaker sets the tone of the conference. There is only one keynote speaker, and that speaker is the first speaker.
The motivational speaker is hired to energize a group, uplift their spirits, and challenge them to achieve their goals. You may have two or more motivational speakers at an event.
A leadership speaker can be a paid consultant or a leadership expert invited to share leadership strategies, concepts, and ideas. Not all leadership speakers are guest speakers.
However, since many teamwork and leadership speakers are professional speakers, a well-crafted introduction will help them connect with the audience.
A professional speaker is a public speaker who gets paid for sharing his ideas, recipe for success, system, or elegant ideas.
It is common for professional speakers to submit one sheet before the event. Professional speakers prepare their speech introduction. These are usually short and relevant to the event.
I will teach you how to write an excellent introduction.
What is a guest speaker intro?
A guest speaker intro is a short speech delivered to pique the audience’s interest, establish the credibility of the speaker, provide a preview of the topic as a promise, and say whatever the speaker cannot say.
A good guest speaker intro is best delivered in less than two minutes. And though some speakers may not need an introduction for they are well-known, the introduction can help set the direction of the experience.
I will show you how to prepare, write, and deliver a guest speaker introduction.
Prepare A Guest Speaker Intro
Introducing a guest speaker is akin to selling the speaker to your audience. You want people to fall in love with the guest speaker even before he or she opens her mouth.
A great introduction may results in a standing ovation even before the speech is delivered.
Your introduction is also a speech. But it serves to highlight the speech of the speaker you are introducing. You will support, not overshadow the speaker.
You may find excellent speaker intros at ted.com
Know Your Audience
Your introduction is also a speech that needs to serve its purpose. Understand who your audience is and what they expect to get from the event.
The best way to get people’s attention is to enter the ongoing conversation in their heads. Every audience member has a purpose for attending a conference, a workshop, or an assembly. Find out what’s worthwhile to them.
One of your jobs is to make it easy for them to welcome the speaker.
Interview the Speaker
Typically, professional speakers have a one-sheet where you can get the information you need. Unfortunately, the one-sheet is for marketing purposes. It is not meant for your audience.
Other guest speakers send their curriculum vitae. It is as if they are job applicants. A common mistake is to wow the audience with academic awards and personal achievements, which have nothing to do with the topic.
I recommend that you interview the speaker before the event. You can do that via Zoom. You may ask the following questions:
- What do you know about your audience? And what do you have in common with them?
- Why do you think your audience needs to hear your message now?
- What are the three most important points of your speech?
- What do you want the audience to think and feel after your speech?
- What do you want me to tell you about them?
- What’s the title of your speech?
- How will I pronounce your name?
You may ask more questions than these. Interviewing a speaker will give you the confidence that you will do your job well. You will sell to people someone you know better than anyone in the audience.
Note that you will ask for the title of the speech. Most introductions do not include the title of the speech, as many of the introductions do not go beyond the CV or one sheet. The title of the speech previews what the audience will get from the speaker.
Write The Guest Speaker’s Introduction
You will be the bridge between the audience and the speaker. Reading a curriculum vitae or one sheet does not justify your role.
You took the time to understand the audience. You interviewed the speaker. You can now write an introduction that will delight both.
In Write Your Speaker Introduction, I recommended that every speaker write an excellent intro they can give to organizers. That’s because many organizers need to know what I shared with you.
Many introductions sound very academic and dull, like the ones we heard when we were in school.
But you’ll be the one to introduce the speaker. It is your voice that people will hear. You decide how to introduce a speaker, and it is best to write down how you intend to deliver it.
It is okay to write a 700-word first draft. You cannot bore people with your first draft, it is meant only for you.
You will prune it to 300 words, then 120 words.
Consider what you have learned from your audience.
Your first words are all about them and the conversations they already have inside their heads. You can connect the topic to what they already expect.
Write a paragraph, about two to four sentences to connect their expectations to the topic.
The purpose of this paragraph is to get their attention.
Your introduction is about your audience and for your audience. You will get their attention and make a promise.
Picque their interest. Get them excited.
Write the title of the speech. Then, write a sentence or two about how the speech can help them address the audience’s challenges or what opportunities the topic can provide them.
Many times, the promise is already in the title.
But do not overpromise.
Make it easy for your speaker to deliver the goods.
Allow the speaker to overdeliver.
Every speech has a promise. Your promise is another promise. You are going to deliver it, but someone else.
One time, a school principal introduced me. He could not help but share his stories about the topic and recommended seven steps teachers can take. Then, before he introduced my name, he said, “our speaker can give you more powerful advice than what I gave…”.
Showcase the credentials of the speaker.
Many speaker introductions bring all excitement down here when the introducer starts reciting all the speaker’s achievements.
However, even at this stage, your introduction is not about the speaker. It is still about your audience. You made a promise earlier. Here you will show us why the speaker has what it takes to deliver a promise.
Only mention those credentials directly related to the topic.
Write three to four sentences illustrating how the speaker is qualified to discuss the topic.
Then, invite everyone to welcome the speaker.
Write the name of the speaker.
Make sure that you know how to pronounce the name. Write it in bold letters because you intend to proudly announce the speaker’s name.
Deliver Your Guest Speaker Introduction
I prefer that the person who will introduce me is the biggest boss of the organization. It does not always happen, but a big boss can introduce you and make everyone listen.
I see a big difference when someone who is relatively unknown to the group introduces a guest speaker. People give more value to an unknown guest speaker when the boss is the introducer.
For example, it is normal for HR of companies to introduce me. They are usually the ones who hire me. People listen to them. But not as much as when the most respected person does the introduction.
I saw this when a mayor of a city introduced me to the barangay captains. There were speeches delivered before mine. But everyone listened when the mayor stood up and made an introduction.
This seldom happens because city officials like to make grand entrances. Whoever is speaking must stop when they arrived.
The same thing happens when a chairman of a bank introduced me. Every manager of his bank was all ears.
So, let me assume that you are the best person who will introduce your guest speaker.
Do it great. Here’s an opportunity to model excellence to everyone. If you followed the simple steps I outlined in writing your introduction, you won’t go wrong.
The following suggestions will increase your confidence.
Rehearse your speech.
Introducing a guest speaker is a speech too. It may last for a minute or two, but it will certainly impact the way how people receive the guest speaker and his message.
First, read it allowed. Listen to how you pronounce your words. Some words look good on paper. But some words are often misunderstood when spoken in a crowd.
You don’t want people to fix their minds on your mispronounced words.
Then, read it with facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and vocal variety. Read it the way you want to deliver it.
If you want, you can memorize your speech. You may still bring your notes, but people will feel your enthusiasm when you make eye contact with them.
Practice it until it becomes second nature to you.
Your two-minute performance will help your speaker. You have written your speech. You have rehearsed it. All you need is to deliver.
In introducing a guest speaker, emcees typically make the segue or the transition from one segment to another. But in case they fail to do this, I come up with one sentence that will connect my segment to the ones that came before mine.
Here are my suggestions.
- The emcee will introduce you. Do deep breathing. This helps you control your nerves.
- Go to the designated area. Pause and make an eye-contact with the audience. You may also look at the direction of the guest speaker. Wherever you look the audience will follow.
- Make a segue before you deliver your rehearsed introduction. Your purpose is to get the attention of your audience and connect with them immediately. Unless it is a protocol in your organization, I will advise against acknowledging all the dignitaries on the stage. It is likely that everyone has already been recognized.
- Deliver your rehearsed guest speaker intro.
- Pause. Look at the direction of the guest speaker, then call his name. This dramatic effect works most of the time.
- When allowed, shake hands with the speaker before you leave the stage.
Do not waste the power of a guest speaker introduction to making your event remarkable. Prepare and write before your deliver.
When I was starting my keynote speaking career, I relied on organizations to deliver an excellent introduction. It seldom happens.
When you invite a guest speaker, show that your event really matters. Find out what the audience needs and how your guest speaker can provide the answer to those needs.
Your delivery of the guest speaker intro may make a big difference.
Public Speaking Articles
If you want to learn how to speak with confidence and power, read the following public speaking posts.
Interesting Articles on Public Speaking
Deliver Persuasive Speeches that Move and Inspire People. You can also find more than a hundred topics.
30 Public Speaking Questions and Straightforward Answers. I compiled a list of common public speaking questions and gave simple answers.
Write your speaker introduction. I mentioned this earlier. Find examples of introductions you can send to organizers when you are the speaker.
How Public Speaking Turned My Life Around. I was not confident speaking in a crowd. Necessity pushed me.
Deliver Awesome Impromptu Speeches. You can use these tips in most public speaking situations.