Speech introductions are more often than not hastily put together with little thought and minimal knowledge of the speaker known. Many do not realize that the introduction of a speech is actually a critical aspect of the speech as a whole and can greatly impact the presentation. A carefully crafted and thought out introduction will not only grab the audience’s attention, but it will also help to establish the speaker’s credibility.
In order to compose a proper introduction, one should be asking three core questions: what is the topic? Why is this topic important for this audience? And why is the speaker qualified to deliver this talk? Figuring out a way to answer these three questions in a compelling way will not only reinforce the speaker’s credibility, but it will also let the audience know why this topic is relevant to them and consequently make them interested in what is to come.
Introductions are meant to be short, sweet, and to the point. After all, the actual speaker is what the audience came to listen to. A solid introduction should be kept within the 30-90 second range. This is an ample amount of time to answer the three core questions and build the audience’s anticipation. A proper introduction will include a short bio of the speaker, yet one should make sure to keep the biographical details to those that are relevant to the topic at hand. A long, drawn out history of the speaker will bore the audience and cause them to lose interest before the actual presentation even begins. The introduction should also include a brief and broad description of what the speaker is presenting. It is very important as to not outline the entire speech, as there is clearly not enough time to do so and it could also impair the presentation if the speaker changed his or her speech in any way, shape or form.
A speaker will want their introduction carefully crafted, in order for the audience’s attention to be grabbed before they even come on stage. This is often reason enough for the speaker to want to compile their own introduction. If this is the case, one most follow it verbatim, know the correct pronunciations of titles and names, and be positive and enthusiastic. Having the mindset that the introduction is just a small part of the presentation as a whole and therefore does not demand practice is wrong and should be avoided. Practicing and memorizing the introduction will make one more comfortable with their words and avoid babbling, stumbling, or irrelevant add-ins.
As stated before, a good introduction will grab the audience’s attention before the actual presentation even begins. Therefore, building to a climax is vital and can be done through proper vocal delivery. Your strength and volume should build up by the end of your introduction and especially when you are literally introducing them, causing the audience to feel compelled to clap and openly welcome the speaker.
An introduction is such a small part of the presentation as a whole, yet is such an essential aspect for the speaker’s success during his or her presentation. By shaping an introduction with the three core questions, you will be able to validate the speaker’s credibility, provide a slight glimpse into the topic, and grab the audience’s attention.