I’m going to give you some great reasons why you should prepare a Speakers Introduction (not the same things as a bio!) for any future speaking events, book launches or readings or conference presentations.
Why? Because if you just sent a bio, CV or resume, you will get an inferior introduction.
Why do you care? This leads to errors and a total miss of key marketing messages you need to have front and center. It also doesn’t properly prepare and inspire the audience to be excited to listen to you.
Benefits of doing it? Not only are you better preparing for a successful presentation, but you are also doing the event host a favor. They LOVE it when you send them something they can just read that’s all ready for them, instead of them having to develop something from your bio or cv. (Especially if it’s fun to read and maybe even gets them a laugh from the audience.)
Reality Check about Event Hosts
First, I have to share a truth that may or may not hurt your ego: Event hosts rarely have time or priority to look at this any more than a few minutes before your presentation. And no, they will not have read your book, or visited your company web site. (I’m not saying this NEVER happens, but I can say it’s rare unless you are famous. And this isn’t written for famous people, because they have people to write these kinds of things for them.) So, now that we’re all on the same page of low expectations of introducers, let’s look at how you can write a great one-minute speaker intro!
Secret to a General Intro
I’m focusing on a general introduction that can be used with little or no modifications for any engagement, however, if you are speaking to a particular audience using a specific aspect of your background or expertise, you may want to add it, or alter the write-up to include these.
I believe the key to writing a great general speaker intro is to focus on the core of who you are and what you’re presenting to the world. You’ll see in my example, I focus on the fact that writing is who I am and what I do. The specifics show the diversity, and at the same time (I hope) give the idea of a lifetime commitment, a broad range of experience and education, and at least one surprising revelation that might make people say, “huh! That’s interesting!”
BLOOPERS that have happened to me & my Prescription to reduce or eliminate them!
#1: Mispronouncing my name. Either first or last, or both. Most common, most embarrassing and not great for brand building. Also, tough to correct without embarrassing your host –not a great option.
RX: I always put a phonetic representation of my name after it or at the top of the page under my name in the title. For example, mine is: Suzanne Paschall (soo-ZAN PAS-kel)
Don’t know how to write yours? I’ve got a great and easy way for you to find out, and it’s right on your Facebook profile page. Log in, click on the “About” menu tab at the top and then “Details About You.”
You’ll see an option to the right that says, “Name Pronunciation.” You can click on the blue arrow to the left to hear it spoken. Make sure this actually does pronounce your name correctly. If it does, you’re good to go. Just select that text and copy it to your Speaker Introduction.
If it doesn’t sound right, then mouse over your name to cause the “Options” button to appear on the right hand side of the box.
Click “Options,” then “Edit” and you’ll see different pronunciations. Select, listen, and save when it’s correct. Then copy and paste the pronunciation into your bio.
I’ve also highlighted my pronunciation in bold, red type on my speaker intro to further draw attention to it.
#2: Reading my entire CV. Okay, that didn’t happen too often, but when it did…WOW. Way to put your audience to sleep before you even get to the podium! Good luck waking them up after.
RX: Write the intro and keep it to two minutes or less. This means you need to write around 240 words, which is the average rate of speech for most people. (The slower you read the better, too, so if you can make it shorter, do!)
It’s awful to hear someone rushing your intro because the conference is running late, or it looks so long they feel they have to. If you go over a bit, don’t stress it. My bio is actually just under 2 minutes, and I’m good with that.
(By the way, here’s a great tool to calculate length of a speech by the words you’ve written.)
#3: Reading the wrong bio. Oh yes, it did. Especially at large events, it is likely the introducer has never met you face to face. If they’re busy and harried, they can actually pick the wrong bio out of a sheaf of papers and well, then it’s too late.
RX: Simple fix? Add your smiling face to your Speaker Introduction. More ideas:
(1) If possible, find your introducer before and introduce yourself.
(2) Make sure they have your intro in hand.
(3) If they don’t, have an extra printed out to hand to them.
#4: Wanting to add or change your intro if they do read in advance, and not having your contact information because that’s the only thing the event coordinator sent them.
RX: Easy…put your contact info at the bottom of the sheet. (Surprising how often that doesn’t happen.!)
Put it all together and from now on, get welcomed to the stage in a more professional way.