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How to deliver a great introduction for a guest speaker

Sports stars have a unique ability to motivate, inspire and engage audiences, which is why they make exceptional guest speakers. It's important to remember, however, that a good introduction is crucial to setting up a great speech.


Here's PickStar's guide to writing and delivering a great introduction that sets your guest speaker up for success.


The research


It's important to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve in your introduction. In most instances, the goal can be summarised as:

  • To kick-off the presentation on an enthusiastic note

  • To establish the speaker’s credentials and suitability for the topic

  • To emphasise the significance of the speech for for the audience

  • To make the speaker feel welcome and valued

Before conducting any research, the first step is to ask the guest speaker what information about their background they’d like included in the introduction. This will help avoid any surprises or faux pas!

You should also find out what specific topic the speaker is going to discuss and why it's important to them.


From here, the research begins! Here’s everything you need to gather for your speech.


DO:

  • Research biographical information on the speaker, focusing on notable qualifications, achievements and other credentials which are relevant to the theme of the speech. Also look out for any useful facts, recent positive stories or unique insights which are appropriate

  • Fact check and use information from credible sources. When researching your speaker’s credentials, the best sources include any print/online news article, interviews/podcasts, and websites associated with the speaker

  • Watch previous speeches presented by the guest speaker to gain further insight on the topics they discuss and their style.

DON’T:

  • Include sensitive information which might embarrass the speaker. Types of content which fall under this category include:

- Public criticisms, arguments or controversies

- Any family matters

- Any recent or previous legal troubles

- Any health issues

  • Include an entire biography / CV – only note credentials which are directly related to the speech topic

  • Use anything that could be potentially sensitive without first checking with the speaker.



The writing


Potentially the trickiest part is condensing this information into a succinct speech. Your speech is the side show, not the main event, so keep it short and don't attempt to detract or distract from what the speaker is going to say.


The speech should only revolve around the speaker’s qualifications and value of the speech for the audience.


DO:

  • Keep the speech between one to three minutes maximum

  • Aim to split up your speech to have:

- One sentence which introduces yourself and welcomes the audience

- A couple sentences which focus on the importance of the speech

- 2–4 sentences on the speaker’s credentials plus any additional information

- A concluding sentence which welcomes the speaker and includes their full name

  • Spice up your introduction with any surprising details or unique facts which are relevant and appropriate

  • Include a brief personal anecdote (if you have one) which works to compliment the speaker’s character

  • Use simple language and avoid superfluous words and long-winded sentences

  • Always read your speech out loud before finalising; this will help you notice any mistakes or poor sentence structures.

DON’T:

  • Try to be funny. It’s human nature to assume the only way to truly engage an audience is through humour. But this is not a necessary skill for an introductory speech; your job is to entice the audience not entertain

  • Use cliches like ‘this speaker needs no introduction

  • Make comments on the speaker’s gender, age, country of upbringing, physical features and other personal attributes. Even if it is intended as a compliment, it’s irrelevant and can undermine the speaker

  • Steal the guest speaker’s thunder through revealing content from their speech. This could include revealing a key finding, quotes or surprise element from the guest speaker’s speech

  • Exaggerate a speaker’s status. There’s a definite line between pumping up the audience with an encouraging introduction and overly bragging about a speaker’s credentials. This can not only set up the audience for a potential let-down but also fill the speaker with self-doubt.




The presentation


You’ve written the speech and you’re ready to go. Now, It’s crucial you confidently present your speech to gain the full effect of your words. The biggest point is to appear energetic and create an up-beat atmosphere for your audience.


Here's some tips on perfecting your presentation.


DO:

  • Be enthusiastic; make sure your facial expressions and body language express an eager and positive attitude

  • Learn how to pronounce the speaker’s name and ensure you use the correct title

  • Speak loudly and clearly so you can be heard from the entire audience, despite their position

  • Make eye contact with your audience

  • Lead the applause after your speech and face the speaker as they walk into the room. Then make sure to shake their hand before taking your seat. This shows you are truly excited to welcome the speaker.

DON’T:

  • Introduce from memory. Make sure you’ve properly rehearsed your speech and have small cue cards as back up to avoid any mistakes on the day

  • Speak too fast and/or mumble – even if you have written an endearing speech, its impact can get lost in inaudible speaking. Speaking too fast can also cause you to run out of breath

  • Make too many movements (i.e. pacing or excessive hand movements). This can become distracting for your audience and steal attention from your speech.

Finally, we know that it can be extremely nerve-wracking giving a speech, even if it's only for a couple short minutes. So, here’s some tips to calm your nerves before the presentation:

  • Arrive early and familiarise yourself with your surroundings

  • Undergo relaxation techniques. These could include listening to soothing music, meditating, breathing deeply, using positive visualisation or movements such as yawning, stretching or rolling your head from side-to-side

  • Drink water and try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee or cola, which heighten your adrenaline.

  • Most importantly, smile! It’s an honour to be asked to introduce a key guest speaker, so pump yourself up and be proud of your role in the event.

PickStar can help you book a guest speaker for your next event.


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