How to write an introduction!

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A good speech introduction prepares your audience by setting the tone and theme for your presentation, it transitions from introducer to presenter. A bad introduction can ruin a presentation. Do you want your next presentation ruined by a lousy introduction? Not me! Introductions are so important, I always write my own.

 

According the the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual, and I agree...

 

An introduction is a mini-speech. By mini, I mean 1-2 minutes in length. 30-60 seconds is plenty for a Toastmasters club. The audience is there to hear the speaker, not the introducer.

 

Like any speech, it needs an opening, body, and a close.

 

The opening must grab the audience's attention. There are a lot of ways to do that:

  • A bold statement that challenges their beliefs
  • Using questions e.g. "Can you remember a time you..." or "Have you ever ..." or "Has this ever happened to you ... it happened to our speaker, today's presentation covers how she dealt with it"
  • Telling a short story
  • Anything else that evokes curiosity
The body of the introduction needs to address 4 main points, order is not important:
  1. Why this subject? Including what is this subject? Why is this subject important?
  2. Why this audience? What's in it for them? Why should the audience care? Why would the audience want to listen to this presentation?
  3. Why this speaker? What makes the speaker an authority on this subject? Experience? Training? Degrees? Certifications? Why is this a credible speaker? Why should the audience trust this speaker and their message?
  4. Why now? Why is this the right time for that subject? What makes this subject timely?
The close needs to transition from introducer to speaker e.g. "please help me welcome Rick Sharon" to lead the audience in applause while the speaker approaches the lecturn.

 

Additionally, for Toastmasters club speeches that will receive feedback, from the evaluator(s) and/or audience, you need to include one more thing:

  • The speaker's goals - what are they trying to accomplish? Feedback is the cornerstone of the Toastmasters program. It's how we learn, how we grow, how we improve. The evaluator(s) and audience must know the speaker's goals so they can judge how effectively the speaker was in achieving those goals, so they can tailor their feedback accordingly.
At my Keller Communicators club we have the speech evaluator read the speaker's objectives. Not all clubs do that. I write my introductions so they will work for either scenario. For example:
(Presented by Toastmaster)

 

Our first/next speaker will be Rick Sharon. Rick will be presenting speech #2 “The Technical Speech” from the advanced “Speeches By Management” manual.

 

(Goals to be presented by Rick's Evaluator or Toastmaster)

 

Rick's goals are:

  • To convert a technical paper or technical material and information into a technical speech
  • To organize a technical speech according to the inverted Pyramid approach
  • To write a technical speech as “spoken language”, not as an article
  • To give the speech by effectively reading out loud
  • Duration: Time: 8-10 minutes
(Rest of Introduction to be given by Toastmaster)

 

The calendar we use today was developed centuries ago as a forecasting tool. It was designed to help farmers forecast the seasons so they would know when to plant and harvest crops. Farmers used the calendar to plan and manage their business, their lives. We continue to use it that way today.

 

Would you like a comparable forecasting tool for planning, managing and timing your investments? A tool for forecasting social events and cultural preferences? Today’s presenter will introduce two such tools: Elliott Waves and Socionomics. Our presenter has been a student and practioner of both for the last seven years.

 

His presentation is titled: Elliott Waves and Socionomics

 

Please help me welcome: Rick Sharon

 

What tips do you have for writing effective introductions?

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