Biz Etiquette 101, Lesson 03

Biz Etiquette: Lesson 03 – 7 Steps to Introducing a Speaker

I attend biz functions virtually every week.

And virtually every week, I get to listen to a guest speaker.

And that means that, virtually every week, I get to hear someone introduce a guest speaker.

And over 90 percent of the time, the introducer fumbles, stumbles, and generally makes a mess of the handoff.

I’ve been a Toastmaster graduate for a lot of years (and if you’ve not been to Toastmasters, I highly recommend the organization) and one of the things they emphasize is how to properly introduce a speaker. So, here’s Lesson 03 of our Biz etiquette series:

How to Introduce a Guest Speaker

If you’ve been asked to introduce a guest speaker for your organization, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible. The truth is, sometimes you won’t have but five to ten minutes to prepare, but hopefully you’ll have lots of time.

  1. Do a Google search for the speaker and gather some flattering facts.
  • Are they an expert is some field?
  • Have they written a book or been featured in a magazine?
  • Notable accomplishments?
  • What schools did they attend?
  • Are they married?
  • Where do they live?
  • Hobbies?

You’re not going to share all this … and maybe none of this, but if you have the time, do the research. The better you “know” the person, the better the introduction will be.

  1. Ask the speaker what they’d like you to share. They may have a bio written (try not to read it) or they may fill you in on key points they’d like you to cover. But even if they don’t have a bio, be sure to ask the title and topic of the speech/talk/teaching that they’re about give. And don’t forget to ask how to pronounce their name … you don’t want to get this wrong!
  2. Introduce the speaker. Most of the time, this goes pretty well. Just don’t get carried away. You’re there for one purpose only: to set the stage for the speaker. In general, call the person by name, share something/s that are flattering, and almost finally, introduce the topic. And then, the last thing you say is, “Will you join me in welcoming Betty Smith of the CDC.”
  3. Lead the applause. And this is where most introductions fail … and fail miserably. As you finish saying the person’s name “… Betty Smith of the CDC” you turn toward the person and lead the applause. Your clapping should be the very FIRST clapping that’s heard. You’re welcoming the speaker, you lead the applause.
  4. Don’t stop clapping until … the speaker reaches the podium. Hopefully, the speaker has been seated very close to the stage or even on the platform. But even if they aren’t, you keep clapping until they reach you. Yes, this could get awkward, but it’s not nearly as awkward as the petering out of the applause ten seconds (an eternity) before the speaker takes the stage … and then the awkward clapping here and there as she steps up to the microphone. You clap … and clap … and clap … until the speaker is within an arm’s length away. Then …
  5. Shake their hand. You don’t stop clapping until they are close enough to reach your outstretched hand. Extend your hand, shake their hand, step out of the way so they can step to the podium, and then quietly sit down in your designated seat.
  6. When they’re done speaking … if you’re the Master of Ceremonies, then you stand, lead the applause again as you walk to where they’re standing, then you extend your hand again, shake their hand, and step up the podium to thank them.

And there you have it. Seven steps to properly introduce a guest speaker. And don’t forget, keep clapping until …

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