Are you thinking, “This sounds so basic, I can’t believe Great Garden Speakers is going to tell me how to introduce someone”? Well, we are, because guess what? Some of the speaker introductions we’ve heard over the years would make your toes curl, and none of us are in the business of curling anyone’s toes.
If you’re a seasoned program manager, we hope you pick up a few tips for polishing your introductions, and if you’re new to all of this—don’t let it intimidate you! It’s actually easy and fun.
How to Introduce a Speaker
While it’s not difficult, it’s vitally important to introduce a speaker properly and effectively—it sets the stage for the audience, builds excitement, and lends a professional air to your venue and event. So let’s dive on in!
- Know how to pronounce the speaker’s name. There are a couple ways to pronounce Anna/Tara/Geoff, and some names are difficult to sound out (Szymarek, anyone?). Ask your speaker ahead of time for the correct pronunciation, write it down phonetically on your card, and never shorten their name to a nickname unless they tell you to.
- Speak clearly. Speak directly into the microphone, try to make eye contact with your audience, smile as you introduce, and avoid mumbling. Your job is to be authoritative, enthusiastic, and welcoming. You can do this!
- Keep it short. While introductions for informal presentations are shorter, keynote introductions are longer and more detailed. Neither should last 5 minutes. Take 1-3 minutes to get the job done effectively, according to the size/importance of the event.
- Do your research. Start with the bio your speaker has already sent you, and then look on their website or any available press releases or media spotlights to gain more familiarity with this person.
- Ask the speaker for input. Ask your speaker if there is anything they’d like you to highlight: A new book? A recent award? Something funny?
- Make it personal. Have you known the speaker for a while? Is this a returning speaker? Is there a story about this speaker that is either heartwarming, funny, or relevant? Use it!
- Mention accolades or awards. You needn’t mention them all but do highlight the most recent or the most significant accomplishments. Remember, this is not a resumé where you simply read out a list of achievements or characteristics.
- Know how to start and end the introduction. Again, sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you wouldn’t step up to a microphone and start saying, “John Davis is an internationally known speaker…” Introduce yourself, greet the audience, and then introduce the speaker. See our examples below.
- Practice it. It’s always good to run through it a few times so you are familiar with what you’ll be saying. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a notecard in front of you with the introduction printed out; in fact, it’s common. You can’t be expected to remember every detail, particularly if you are introducing many speakers in a multi-day event.
Text in bold: Beginning and ending transitions
Text in red: Personal connection
Text in purple: Achievement/accolades
Good morning, everyone! Welcome to our Fall Festival. I’m Katie Elzer-Peters, the President of Oceanview Garden Club and it’s my pleasure to introduce today’s speaker. We’ve been fortunate to have Jenny Peterson as a speaker in our Spring Fling series, so many of you will remember her amazing presentation on growing herbs. Jenny is a third-generation gardener specializing in edible gardening, with a new book from Coventry Press called “Herb Growing for Beginners,” which has been nominated for a GardenComm award! Today, Jenny will be speaking to us about how to use your herbs to make fragrant bath products and gifts, so please join me in welcoming her!
Good afternoon! I’m Sheryl Fisher, the events manager for the Austin Flower and Garden Show. Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to your speaker, Brian McDonald. Brian lives in Kentucky where he manages a 10-acre flower farm specializing in organic cut flowers, dried flowers, and seasonal arrangements. Brian’s presentation is “Growing and Arranging Dahlias” — and be sure to catch his demonstration at 4pm over in the Fern Hall! I’m personally excited for this because I’ve always wanted to grow dahlias and haven’t quite figured out the secret. Welcome, Brian!
Good evening, friends! My name is Doug Howard, the owner of Howard’s Nursery. I’m very excited to introduce our next speaker, who is kind of a big deal here in Cincinnati. Patty Carter is our local expert on organic gardening, with her own award-winning TV show “Patty’s Organic Garden” and numerous books on organic and vegetable gardening. Today she’s going to talk with us about common tomato-growing problems and how to solve them without using synthetic chemicals, something I think we all can appreciate! Patty, welcome to Howard’s Nursery—we’re excited to learn more!