Introducing a Speaker

Learning Objectives

  • Identify effective ways to introduce a speaker.
A man talking a microphone. A woman stands next to him.

When you’re introducing someone, your job is to get the crowd’s attention, tell the listeners why they should care what this person has to say, generate some excitement, then get out of the way.

When you’re introducing a speaker, the main thing is to remember that it’s not your show. You’re just there to set up the speaker and get out of their way. Unless you’re introducing someone in a format that requires you to give a significant speech, don’t try to be clever, funny, or insightful. These are all great qualities, but they run the risk of upstaging the person you’re introducing. No band wants to be outplayed by the opening act.

Public speaking expert Deborah Grayson Riegel outlines three main goals in introducing a speaker:

  1. Focus the attention of the audience on the speaker.
  2. Build up the speaker’s credibility.
  3. Generate curiosity and excitement about what the speaker will present.[1]

Here are some dos and don’ts for introducing a speaker:

Do Don’t
  • Stay In Your Lane: Stick to the main goals of introducing a speaker and don’t launch into your own speech about the day’s topic.
  • Get to the Point: Be brief.
  • Set the Tone: Project enthusiasm and excitement about the talk.
  • Speak to the Audience: Most of the introduction should be delivered to the audience, not the speaker. Turn to the speaker at the end of the introduction.
  • Start the Applause: Begin clapping after you announce the speaker’s name and invite them to the stage.
  • Welcome the Speaker to the Stage: Wait at the lectern (or wherever the speech will be delivered) until the speaker gets there. Greet the speaker in an appropriate manner (usually a handshake).
  • Don’t Wing It: Never try to introduce a speaker from memory; have good notes.
  • No Jokes: Jokes are rarely—really never—appropriate during a speech of introduction.
  • Don’t Use Clichés: A statement like “Up next: a person who needs no introduction” doesn’t really mean anything because it’s so overused.
  • Don’t Hog the Spotlight: Sit down promptly.[2]