Thanks very much, everyone. It is an honor for me to introduce our next guest. He has been a professor of Aerodynamics at California Polytechnic Institute for the past 17 years. He’s on the board of…
And you’re already not paying attention.
When it comes to presenting in front of a group of people (whether 4 or 4,000), introductions are a necessity. As someone who’s stood on hundreds of stages myself, I can tell you from experience that it’s hilariously awkward to not have an introduction and try to corral an audience’s attention with witticisms like, “Sit down, you hooligans!” or “They just let anyone wander up here and talk, huh?” So yes, people need introductions.
Alas, absolutely no one cares what your introduction is. If you’re famous enough, then you really don’t need an introduction; and if you’re not famous, then no introduction in the world is going to impress people enough to win them over before you actually start talking. It’s what you say that will win or lose your audience, not what you say about yourself.
So what to do? You need an introduction, and yet nobody cares what your introduction is. Conundrum time!
Fortunately, finding a happy middle ground isn’t too hard. Here are three simple ways to craft an introduction that will be a true benefit to you:
Keep It Short
This is critical. Long-winded introductions (and by ‘long-winded’ I mean ‘more than 20-30 seconds) almost universally come off as an attempt to impress an audience with your accomplishments before they have any idea who you are. That ends up sounding a lot like bragging, and most of us don’t respond well to that. So pick a small number of items you want to highlight, then cut it off so that you can begin the process of winning your audience over with the substance of your talk – which, by the way, is the part they really came to listen to.
Throw In Something Unexpected
Most introductions are exactly the same: “So-and-So has worked at A, B, and C, has succeeded at X, Y, and Z, and will talk to us today about this, that, and the other.” It’s the uniformity of introductions that causes most of us to tune them out. So throw your audience a curveball. The first line in my introduction is, “Our next speaker is incredibly awesome and has performed in over 63 states.” It’s an idiotic thing to say – but it grabs people. They don’t know what’s coming next, and so they pay a tiny bit more attention. That’s exactly what you want.
End With Your Full Name
This tends to happen more often in informal settings where the person introducing you ends by saying, “All right, so now you know a little bit about Jeff, so let’s get to it.” It begins the presentation on a very relaxed note, which is sometimes good but more often suggests very subtly that the person who’s about to talk can be regarded with only a portion of your attention. There’s something formalizing about, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Angela Carter” that signifies it is Angela’s show.
Keep It Short
Did I say this one already? I think I did. Hmm. Wonder why I put it in here twice?
So there you go. Hope this helps!