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Use Introductions to Position for Success
by Marlene Chism

What sets the tone of the speech, creates a sense of anticipation, positions you as the expert, generates interest and grabs attention? The introduction. Whether you are introducing your guest at a club meeting, presenting the speaker at an awards banquet or meeting forty strangers for the first time, the introduction is the tool that makes the difference. A good introduction doesn't happen by chance. Planning your introduction will give you results.

Introducing yourself Every professional belongs to a networking group where they stand and introduce themselves. Instead of using the same "speech" every meeting, create several 30-second introductions, also known as the "elevator speech" tailored to the group. For example, if you sell insurance and you are introducing yourself at the "Classic Car Club", then your introduction should mention that you insure classic cars. If you are a banker and you are in front of small business owners, mention the SBA loans you have available. In other words, find out something specific about the group and how you can serve them, and make that evident in your introduction. The biggest mistake is stage hogging. It's ok to make a statement about an upcoming event but it shouldn't take up more than a few extra seconds. If you have several announcements, spare the details and bring along brochures or flyers. Let the group know that they can get more information after the meeting. Or, ask the emcee to make the announcements before introductions begin.

Introducing your guest Don't leave it to chance when you bring a guest. There is no better opportunity for a guest to shine than when you strategically formulate an introduction showcasing her talents. For example, I invited Stacy Boysen-Krauk, as a guest to a business club in which I belong. The members in this organization are business owners and decision makers who can use Stacy's product, or are in a position to refer Stacy to other businesses. Rather than randomly introducing Stacy and reciting the name of her company, I specifically mentioned that last May Stacy lost her home in the tornado that destroyed her community and from that experience she created two businesses to protect business owners and home owners. This statement gained the immediate attention of the group and gave them an anchor to remember her by. Then I strategically mentioned the name of her business: and and explained that she "databases" the contents of your home or business so that you are protected before the theft, fire or storm. Note here, that I did not leave it to chance that my audience would pay attention to the word "database." When you want something to stand out, make a point to anchor the word in the audiences mind. Then to add some validation, I mentioned that Stacy's business had been recently highlighted on the local news channel and in 417 Magazine, which added to Stacy's credibility. Mentioning this magazine that is read by most everyone in the audience will have people noticing and remembering her information well after the meeting, or perhaps looking up the information later. Add to the fact that it was the month of April (tornado season) and the fact that many of the professionals in the audience were insurance professionals, CPA's and other business owners, Stacy had several business cards handed out to her with a request for a follow up.

Introducing the Speaker Some of the same rules apply when introducing the speaker at an awards banquet or seminar. It is your responsibility as the introducer to make sure the speaker has a planned intro. The worst introducers are those that rely on fond feelings and memories to make the introduction. A prepared introduction sets the stage and lets the audience know who the speaker is and what topic he is speaking on. An introduction shouldn't be much longer than one minute. Give the speaker's credentials and other meaningful information, and don't build the speaker up so much that he is a let down to the audience. Leave out the things that aren't pertinent to the audience. For example, if your speaker is talking to Chess enthusiasts, it won't matter that he climbed Mt. Everest unless he played a game of chess when he got to the top.

Talk to the speaker a few days in advance to see what is necessary for preparation. Interview the speaker and use the "TIP" formula (Topic, Importance to the audience, and Personal information) to create your outline. What if you are dealing with a professional speaker? Most professional speakers come prepared with a written introduction, and may already have someone in mind to do the introduction. If that happens to be you, make sure you have rehearsed the introduction and know how to pronounce every word, including the correct pronunciation of the speaker's name. The second to worst kind of introduction is from the person who hasn't practiced reading the intro. Stick to your script. Don't adlib or give away additional information. For example, if your speaker is going to do a magic act and wants it to be a surprise, you might blow it if you suddenly decide to mention his magic tricks in your introduction. Always ask permission from the speaker if you are going to vary from his script. Doing otherwise means you steal his thunder and disappoint the audience.

Marlene Chism may be contacted at
Marlene Chism works with companies that want to stop the drama so that teamwork and productivity can thrive. To get free resources to help you increase productivity and build work relationships go to or call 1. 888.434.9085 for more information.


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