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Some do's and don'ts

Now, here are some do's and don'ts for you as an introducer or a writer of introductions:

  • Don't try to upstage the speaker. Remember that the introduction is the appetizer, not the main course.

  • Don't make the introduction too long. Two or three minutes ought to be long enough for most occasions. On the other hand, take whatever time is necessary to do a proper job. It's not so much the length that's important; it's the content.

  • Be sure you know how to pronounce the speaker's name . If you're writing an introduction for someone else to deliver, and if the speaker has an unusual name, double-check the pronunciation and write it phonetically for the speaker's benefit.

  • Be sure your information is up-to-date. If you get information from a book or a periodical, you need to make certain the sources are current.

  • Dare to be different. There's an old axiom that says the speaker's name should not be mentioned until the very last thing. There's nothing really wrong with that, but in most cases the audience will already know who's speaking, so saving the name until the end doesn't do anything. If you're introducing someone whom most of the audience know well, try to find something different to say.

  • Please, please, don't say, ''Our speaker is a person who needs no introduction.'' If you do, your audience will be justified in wondering why you're bothering to give one. That's a cliché the world can do without.

  • If possible, wait until the audience has finished eating and the dishes have been cleared before you begin. This is important for two reasons: First, your introduction will not get the attention it deserves if the people continue to concentrate on their food. Second, if you begin the introduction while the people are eating or the dishes are being cleared, you probably will not finish before the hubbub is over. The speaker will be forced to compete with waiters rattling dishes and refilling coffee cups. That is not a very good way to begin a speech.


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