In the past few weeks, I’ve been called upon to facilitate events with multiple speakers. One had over nine presenters in a three quarter day agenda. I have found that when delivering such events, it’s important to have a tool to make the speaker introductions painless and effective. I recently developed an introduction template to do exactly that.
Using this template will help everyone involved:
- Speakers will appreciate it since it will help them prepare their introduction, since they won’t have to start from scratch. They will also benefit because a good introduction increases their credibility with the audience and makes them look more professional. In other words, you can help them look marvelous, as Billy Crystal might say.
- Audience members will enjoy the template because helps them avoid the dreaded
“CV Resuscitation.” This is a lifeless, long, drawn-out, monstrosity of an introduction that precedes each presenter at some events. These gremlins put people to sleep and suck the life out of their brain matter like a supercharged, dual-piston, gas-powered, Hoover vacuum. That, and if done right the consistent format helps the audience code and frame the information they are about to hear, much better than no introduction at all or a nasty one, as described above. Introductions work like a cerebral palate cleanser in this way.
- Facilitators/Chair people/MC’s will also benefit because it will save you time before the event because you simply send the template to each speaker at once instead of a one-on-one conversation with each presenter to develop a customized introduction. Having a briefing conversation, either individually, or with all the speakers in a group, is still a great practice. However, when time is tight, this template works well. Also, the consistency it also lends to the introductions will make it easier for you to deliver them. Using well-structured introductions will also make you look more polished and professional as a facilitator.
To use the template, email it to all of your presenters about a week before the event. Include a date when you will expect the introductions to be returned to you. If you have time, follow-up with each speaker with a phone call or a face-to face conversation to assist them or to confirm clarity of the assignment. If not, as the filled out templates are returned to you, build a computer file so all of them are in one place. Make sure you read out each introduction as they come to ensure you can pronounce and deliver correctly. Print of the file if you require a hard copy. At the event, read the templates as you introduce each speaker.
A few things I’ve learned from using this template:
- Take the time to read each introduction out loud and time and time yourself doing so. If they are too long (target 60 seconds), or don’t sound proper to the ear, edit them accordingly. Consider replying to the speaker with your changes; it is your event to run but their introduction. Also check your agenda to see if the time to read the agenda is accounted for. Ten speakers could be a significant 10 minutes of agenda time.
- Follow-up with late or tardy speakers a few days before the event. They might overwhelmed, preparing their presentation, and simply haven’t had time to get to it. Alternatively, your request message might have gotten list in their email or filtered out by accident. Consider interviewing the speakers and typing their responses into the template if this helps them.
- For folks that don’t reply, print out a template with as much information as you can determine. Position titles can be researched and presentation names are often on the agenda. Then, before you start, at a break, or during lunch, provide that hard copy for speakers to fill in or interview and record them as a service.
- If you are using a hard copy, email the file to yourself also. That way, if you lose your hard copy, you won’t have to bother scrambling around at the event.
- Consider using color, highlighting, bolding, and printing single-sided to suit your preference. Whatever it takes to make your reading job easier when the pressure is on you at delivery time.
What great tools to have you seen to introduce speakers?