I was a female keynote speaker for an HR conference last year, where I had the most outstanding and memorable speech introduction ever.
The clever man who introduced me, saw me speak at an HR conference 6 months earlier. He tied in several ideas from my motivational talk and used personalized information about my family and upbringing. By the time I went up to speak, he made me feel like a rock star. It helped that his introduction was also hilariously funny.
His witty and clever way of introducing me to the audience inspired me to consider what makes up a great speech introduction.
The purpose of introducing a guest speaker is to create a bond with the audience and build credibility for the speaker. Usually, the keynote speaker’s bio helps with the credibility part. It's up to you to make it personalized.
First, ask the keynote speaker how they prefer to be introduced. Some will be very clear that you must stick to their standard introduction. Other speakers will prefer you ad lib and personalize the message.
Make sure the introduction makes the guest speaker look good, not you. It’s not your chance to boast but an opportunity to set the speech up for success. A great speech introduction will help the audience prepare for the talk. It will build credibility and make the audience eager to pay attention.
Steps to the perfect personalized guest speaker introduction:
Get the Facts
Every guest speaker has a bio or standard introduction. Get that introduction and use it as the base of your remarks. Ask the keynote speaker how much liberty they will give you to ad-lib. Get this in writing so they can't sue you later (kidding!).
Why This Keynote Speaker?
Find out why this speaker was asked to present at this conference. Are they an expert in the field? Were they most likely to succeed with this tough crowd? Or the only one willing to try? is it an inspirational speaker, industry expert? Personalize. If possible, spend some time on the phone or in-person getting to know your guest speaker.
Questions That Create Interest
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have children? What do you love about where you live? Where was your last speech? If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be? What are you most proud of in your life? If we were to marry, could you afford the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed (kidding!)? What mistakes have you made recently? What is your favorite smell? What are your weaknesses and how do you deal with them? If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? If you could be an animal, what would you be? Some of these questions are very personal, pick, and choose the ones you feel comfortable asking and will give you the most interesting ideas.
After the interview, suss out the important and interesting information and skip anything too personal or detailed. Be aware that asking these questions can reveal some priceless humor... ( i.e- the biggest mistake I have made lately is I forgot to take out the trash) that will add some zip to your introduction. Keep your intro short, the audience is there to see the keynote speaker, not you.
Once you have the research above, you can weave this into the information already given in the guest speaker’s bio. Finally, remember your job in introducing a guest speaker is to make them look good, not to draw attention to yourself. Don't try to upstage them or be the star of the show. Instead, focus on making them look credible and interesting.
With these tips, you can craft an introduction that will make your audience crave the wisdom your guest speaker has to give.