Why you should work hard on the words you’ll never say

You’ve been asked to make a speech or presentation. Someone else will have the job of introducing you. So how much thought and effort do you put into that introduction? 

Many speakers leave the introductions completely in the hands of the introducer, or the event organizers. And that’s a big mistake.

I learned the hard way to always write my own introductions. I was speaking to 300 business women on a very specific topic that the organizers had requested.

But I let the convention organizers write my introduction. They raided my website and told the audience I was going to speak about a certain dramatic incident that happened to me.

That was not part of my plan. I had no intention of talking about the incident. It didn’t fit with the theme I was addressing.

When the organizer was introducing me and telling everyone about the incident I was smiling. But my brain was feverishly editing my speech to see where I could deliver what my introducer was promising.

I didn’t want the client to look bad. It wasn’t her fault. It was my fault. I didn’t give her any direction. The introducer’s brief may have been as basic as ‘say a few words about so and so’. So raiding a bio on a website is a quick and easy solution.

Introductions matter. What the introducer says about you sets the scene and raises expectations.

A proper introduction, delivered well, will set the stage for you and your message. It will set the tone. It will make the audience eager to hear you. It will get everyone ready and pumped for you and your message.

So before you start on your main speech, take some time to craft your introduction. You just need to jot down a few points at this stage and refine it later when the speech is done.

Here are some things to consider:

  • keep it short – 30 to 40 seconds
  • think about your audience. What would make them eager to hear you?
  • include a story or anecdote that’s relevant to your main content

Put some time and effort into creating an introduction you can hand to the event organizer. Think of the introduction as a launch pad for your message. The introduction is like the trailer to a movie or the notes on a book cover. It’s intended to draw people in.

Don’t skimp on it. And don’t leave it to chance. You may never speak the words yourself – but they really matter.