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How to introduce a speaker

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2020-10-27

You may think it sounds easy enough. However, this is certainly not the case. The organiser sets the tone for the event which means introductions are far more important than you think! We asked speaker and communication expert Rune Strom what is most important when introducing a speaker to a large or small crowd.

How to best introduce a speaker depends very much on who the speaker actually is. If for instance you are introducing psychology professor Svend Brinkmann, the introduction will typically be more factual and professional whereas an introduction to legendary Danish footballer Preben Elkjær should be more entertaining. You must try and make your introduction fit the theme and mood of the speaker.

Rune suggests you are proactive before the event. Maybe you are already communicating with the speaker about practical details, so have a talk also about what type of introduction the speaker would prefer. That way you will be better prepared and the presentation and the event will feel more as a whole.

If you are organising a bigger event perhaps you will be using a moderator to also present the various speakers during the day, so it is of course important that this moderator communicates with the speakers in good time in order to match the presentation with the theme of the event and the contents of the actual keynotes.

It is the organiser who is responsible for making the audience feel attentive before the keynote. That means it is the organiser’s responsibility to make people be quiet and draw their attention to the stage. It is very important that you do not start talking before everybody is seated and looking at you. Place yourself center stage, look down at the floor and then at the audience, wait for them to look at you, and then you start talking. 

Once you have everybody’s attention it is a good idea to bid everyone welcome before turning to practical information. A good presentation consists of two parts; practical information and the actual introduction of the speaker. Practical information concerns breaks and pauses, toilets, book sale and signing, Q & A, and so on. After the practical information take four steps to the left and start introducing your speaker. You can perhaps say something like, ‘Thank you for coming today. I see you are all excited and I don’t blame you. In just a moment we are going to welcome a very special person.’ Finish your introduction by asking everybody to give your speaker a warm welcome. A good and professional introduction takes about 2-5 minutes.

And then the most important piece of advice: Stay in the background. You are the organiser, you are not the speaker, people are not there to listen to you. Use a headset instead of a microphone, use open body language and do not be afraid of pauses during your presentation as they can help catch people’s attention and build suspense, making everybody ready to listen.

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