Monday, June 23, 2014

Speaker Introductions Should Build Energy, Credibility

Contact: David Burton, civic communication specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Introducing a speaker is something few people prepare for very well. After all, if we are not the one giving the presentation, why should you worry?

There are plenty of reasons to worry if you recall the last time you watched someone else reciting the degrees earned, positions held, books written and honors achieved by the speaker.

"Opening comments play an important role in piquing the audience members' interest, warming them up to the speaker and helping to create a bond between the speaker and the audience," said David Burton, civic communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

There are several techniques that can be used to engage an audience's attention while adding life and emotion to an introduction.

Link the speaker and audience. "When you introduce a speaker, your job is to make the speaker's expertise known and to rouse interest in hearing the speaker's remarks," Burton said. "Listeners want to hear relevant credentials and prior experiences but instead of reciting a laundry list of accomplishments, point out specific connections between the speaker's past and the audience's motivations for attending the meeting."

Provide stories instead of facts in the introduction. "People find a biography that lists degrees and titles boring. That changes if you can translate the facts into situations that mean something to the audience. You can accomplish this through a story. People are interested in people, not degrees, and if you bring out the speaker's human side, his accomplishments will ultimately mean more to the audience. Plus, don't be afraid to use some humor," said Burton.

Tell the audience why you selected this speaker. "One challenge during an introduction is broadening the audience's opinion of the speaker. Why was this speaker chosen for this event? If you haven't touched on it already, communicate to the audience why your organization is pleased to have this particular individual speaking," Burton said.


For 100 years, MU Extension has engaged Missourians in relevant programs based on University of Missouri research. The year 2014 marks the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which formalized the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service, a national network whose purpose is to extend university-based knowledge beyond the campus. More information is available at or by calling the MU Extension office in Greene County at (417) 881-8909.


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