And Here’s Whatshername

Wild 118

Introducing the Speaker

A speaker’s Introduction is a small speech itself. It starts with an opening that grabs the audience’s attention. It has a body which explains what the subject is, who the speaker is (her credibility regarding the subject), and why it’s appropriate to discuss it here and now. The conclusion welcomes the speaker to the lectern and transitions the audience’s attention to her speech. An introduction at a Toastmasters club meeting should take less than a minute.

Introductions should build anticipation and focus attention – then conclude at a high point with the speaker’s arrival at the lectern. It sets the tone, lends authority and makes a transition — in one minute or less!

Toastmasters introductions should include the project identification and time, and the objectives for the talk. This helps the audience frame useful feedback for the speaker. In clubs that recognize “Best Speakers” this background information also helps voters decide which speaker best accomplished their objectives: did the Distinguished Toastmaster giving an advanced speech or the new TM presenting Project 8 better accomplish THEIR goals? (The question is “who best accomplished the talk’s goals; it isn’t “who spoke best.”)

Sometimes an introduction makes the speaker more credible. Consider: “Mary’s been in the club a long time and she’s going to tell us about CPR,” vs. “A Registered Nurse with over 15 years of ER experience will explain how CPR can save our lives. Help me welcome Mary, a long time club member.”

Here are some hints for better introductions:

Keep the audience’s attention on the stage at all times. Never leave the stage empty and bare.

First, focus on the audience. Then, as you announce the speaker’s name, turn your attention to the speaker (and lead the applause).

Remain on stage, leading the audience in applause, until the speaker reaches you and shakes hands. Leave the stage without crossing in front of, or behind, the speaker.

Introduce the speaker with an exciting opening; reveal Who, What, Why; and then transition to the speaker – using the speech title and their name: “Help me welcome Mary Smith with ‘How I Sort My Socks!’”


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