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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

How to Introduce Others With Aplomb

Meetings where someone is presenting a report and company get-togethers are just two of the many opportunities executives have to introduce people. These introductions are often done hastily, clumsily, and with something less than grace. Yet they are prime opportunities to make people take notice of your own public-speaking abilities.

Introductions have two purposes: to warm up the audience for the speaker and to help put the speaker at ease, both of which make the speaker's job easier. But the rewards of good introductions go both ways: They provide the introducer with a perfect opportunity to be gracious and charming—in public. Here's a checklist to consult before you deliver your next introduction.

Find out what you need to know about the audience. If you can, ask the speaker beforehand what he or she feels would be the most pertinent things to pass on to this audience.

Get all the background on the speaker you might need: special training, positions held, schooling, books or articles published, affiliations, anything particularly relevant to the group being addressed.

Construct your introduction just like a miniature speech, complete with an introduction, body, transitions, and a conclusion.

Stay away from a joke-filled introduction, unless the speaker is giving a humorous speech or you know the audience well.

Try to memorize as much of the opening as you can; it sounds better than if you read it. You want to seem conversational, and reading instills a formality that you must displace.

Pause long enough to get attention before you begin. Then speak with energy, enthusiasm, and warmth. Remember it's your job to get the audience interested in what's to come.

Make sure you pronounce the speaker's name correctly.

Insert a personal remark about how you met the speaker; it makes him or her seem more accessible to the audience.

End with a nice touch like "Please join me in welcoming..."; lead the applause. Speakers welcome a warm beginning.

Because meetings are so important I have included a checklist and several forms at the end of this chapter.

Running a meeting automatically puts you in a position of power. Don't wait for the next big speech or presentation; use that position to practice your speaking skills on a weekly—even daily—basis. Recognize that "meetings" occur all the time, whether they are formal and planned or a chance encounter in the hallway. Taking advantage of all your chances to hone your speaking skills is the first step to being your own coach, which is the key to ongoing training and success as a speaker.


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