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The Introduction Can Make or Break Your Presentation!
by Chris King

When you have been asked or hired to give a presentation, you will usually be introduced to the group before you present. And, generally, the person chosen to introduce you is not a seasoned speaker. The introduction, therefore, by this well-meaning person can turn the audience off before one word comes out of your mouth. How can you avoid this?

Write out your introduction! Prepare a short and snappy introduction to hand to your introducer. I often send one ahead also. This helps the group to have pre-presentation information for a flyer or newsletter. But even if you send one ahead, bring a copy with you. When you arrive, ask who will be introducing you and give him/her the copy and take a couple of minutes to point out pronunciation of any words that might be difficult or unfamiliar (for example, when I include the name of my first college, I point out the proper pronunciation ahead of time). Another note is to double space, use a font of at least size 12, and do not use all caps, which are hard to read.

What to include! When I wrote “short and snappy” I meant it. If the introduction drags on or is too praiseworthy, the audience is turned off before you stand up. Just include the pertinent facts in the description — facts that are interesting and make the audience participants sit up and take notice. The only time I include my college background is when the group is such that I need it for credibility.

What is your topic? Include words in the introduction that position you to speak on the topic you are presenting. What is it about you that has given you the expertise to talk about this topic? For example, if you are talking about running a successful home business, do you, yourself, have a home business? If not, you might want to reconsider speaking about home businesses.

A little humor goes a long way! One humorous fact can help any introduction to warm the audience. But remember, it can’t depend upon pacing or delivery from the person who is reading your introduction. You can even add a line at the end that leads into a quick note of humor for your beginning comments. For example, when I am giving a presentation on storytelling (my passion), I will include the organization in which I am active at the end of the intro: the Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling. While I am waiting for the introducer to sit down, I’ll make the aside comment, “Yes, O.O.P.S! — that’s another story.”

What to do while being introduced! Often, while we are being introduced, members of the audience can observe us (we may be up on a stage or platform, or sitting at a table in full view). Make sure that you are looking lively, prepared and professional (I’ve seen presenters with their heads down, looking completely bored or practically asleep). And, as soon as the introducer is finished, be ready to jump up with enthusiasm and shake his/her hand — if they wait a moment for you to take your place.

Sample introduction for my storytelling presentations:

A human development specialist, artist, fitness instructor, storyteller, trainer, consultant, TV announcer, model, mathematician, salesperson, newspaper editor, waitress, writer, speaker and mother of five are some of the personas which have given Chris King plenty of material for stories.

Chris is the State Liaison and a Guest Editor for the National Storytelling Network and the Past President and current Membership Chair of the Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling known as OOPS!.

Tonight, Chris is going to share her CREATIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS — Motivation, Inspiration and Fun through Stories. Help me welcome Chris King.


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