How to Introduce a Speaker — Seven Steps for a Smooth Transition at the Podium

MCs and event hosts sometimes take the task of introducing a speaker for granted — and flub it.  Here’s how to make it go smoothly.

  1. Begin by answering the question surely on the audience’s mind: Why should they listen to speaker? Do not begin by rattling off qualifications. Be specific as to why this speaker is apropos for this event.
  2. Give the full name and title clearly, even if you think most of the audience knows the person. There may, for example, be a journalist or visitor in the audience who will be puzzled if the introduction is not complete.
  3. Ask a question or tell a story soon after you begin the introduction. “How can you turn around a school system when there is just no money and no political will to provide any money? Our guest faced that issue in 2016, when she…”
  4. Qualifications are important, but don’t overdo and don’t ramble. If the person is famous or very well-known to the group, look for unusual aspects of the person’s background to highlight.
  5. Never say, “This person needs no introduction.” It’s a cliché that is so old it belches dust and also produces some bizarre cognitive dissonance by calling into question your role in standing in front of the audience making an introduction.
  6. Determine whether you want applause when you bring the speaker to the lectern. Applause would be out-of-place in some situations, such as a corporate training or the introduction of a person who is there to relay bad news. But applause is welcome and expected for most larger convocations. If you don’t want or expect applause, just hand the presentation over. “Dr. Kelly, please tell us about the project.” If you do want applause, be sure you clearly cue it: “And please join me in welcoming Dr. Kelly.” Clap YOUR OWN HANDS just to be sure everybody gets the message. It is a terrible start to a presentation to get scattered and tentative clapping in isolated pockets.
  7. Stay in place for a moment while the speaker gets settled. You may need to adjust a mic, help with equipment, or as happens, pick up papers that get dropped in the transition.

Author: admin

Carl Hausman is Professor of Journalism at Rowan University, the author of several books about media, and a commentator about the role of media and ethics in civic life.

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