Speaking Tips: Introducing the speaker


I made a mistake once when I was asked to read an introduction for a speaker in my Toastmasters Club. I decided to ad lib a bit and mention some additional facts about the speaker that he hadn’t asked me to mention. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was messing up the introduction to his speech and digging a small hole for him to start in.

I didn’t really “get it” until a few months back, when I worked hard on a specific speech and provided the Toastmaster with a specific introduction. The idea behind the introduction was to mention only those skill sets that applied to the topic I was presenting, and to set the stage for some callbacks in the speech.

You see, there are some accomplishments I have that have no bearing on a speech about presentation skills, such as being a licensed pilot. There are times when I would want to mention  that, such as when I speak on air-related topics. For presentations on speaking skills and leadership, it usually doesn’t apply.

Back in August, I wrote a post about my introduction called “freeze the design“. This effort was based on my experience at Champ Camp, and the name came from a comment by 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking Ed Tate. Freeze the Design was his term for calling a product ready to go. Not that it would never change, but that at this point in time this is the design (of my introduction) that I’m going to use.

In the case I’m referring to, my introducer mentioned the pilot license, as well as my recent and current jobs. Then, he read my prepared intro with a couple of unexpected pronunciations. In the end, it was a Toastmasters audience so the errors didn’t really change the outcome of my speech. However, for practicing my introduction to make sure it worked well with my topic, this effort was a wash. Of course, we learn from those efforts too.

Next week I’m speaking at the Semi-pro Toastmasters club in Wichita, KS. I’ve been working on my speech and the introduction, and expect to video the complete effort and post the results here that night. Putting together professional-quality introductions is a new skill that I’m working to develop, and I’ll be sure to post more on the subject as it develops…


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