An excellent introduction should do three things in less than two minutes: highlight you as a well-informed, qualified expert, excite the audience, and create a smooth transition into your speech.
In addition, a good introduction addresses these six questions:
- Who are you? What are your qualifications and experience?
- Why is your presentation relevant? What problems does it address?
- What is in it for the audience? How will you solve their problems?
You know yourself and your material better than anyone else. For this reason, you should always write your own introduction. Doing so eliminates any surprises. Without a carefully prepared script, things can go terribly wrong. At best, the session host or podcast host delivers a boring monologue with little to do with your presentation. At worst, the host botches your name or forgets to mention relevant information.
Be Brief and Relevant
Choose one or two essential qualifications that directly apply to your presentation and your audience. Save the detailed résumé for your LinkedIn profile. For example, if you are speaking at a business function, you might mention your university degree if it’s relevant. You could also mention your interest in genealogy if you are speaking to a group of hobbyists and crafters.
Another idea worth considering is to include your qualifications within your presentation. They can be a lot more powerful when they arise organically. During your speech, you could say, “I introduced my Terms of the Trade vocabulary list while teaching classes at the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. It’s been a best-seller for years or “When I was an organizer on the TV show, Hoarders, therapists always asked me about my book, From Hoarding to Hope.”
Skip the Acronyms and Obscure
Don’t bewilder your audience with a list of “alphabet soup” acronyms or vague names and titles. If you are a Certified Professional Organizer, write it out in full. The letters CPO might not mean anything to your audience, or be pronounced “see-po,” or accidentally C3PO. State that you worked at an accounting firm, not the (possibly unfamiliar) name of the company. Your audience has to understand your background to have confidence in your expertise.
Include Something Unique
You want to highlight your credentials but also want to show a bit of your individual style. It helps your audience relate to you. For example, your intro could include, “Aliyah appreciates a clutter-free home because she enjoys showcasing her collection of vintage books.”
KISS – Keep It Short and Simple
The audience is there for the content of your presentation, not your introduction. If your presentation is one hour long, your introduction should be no more than two minutes. For a 10-minute presentation, your introduction should only be about 30-seconds long.
Write your introduction so the host can read it aloud easily. Rephrase any tongue-twisters, run-on sentences, or words that could be mispronounced. Make sure it flows smoothly. Read it out loud yourself, have a friend (or the “voice-over” option on your computer) read it to you.
Use the third-person singular when writing your intro. The person introducing you should be able to read the material as written and not have to guess at the pronouns you use.
Print your introduction in a large, easy-to-read font. Bring a printed copy to the presentation with you – even if you have emailed it to the host beforehand.
Politely tell the host to introduce you using exactly what is written on the paper with no deviations, as it will create a nice transition into your presentation.
Once you have been introduced, thank the host by name and begin your speech. Do not re-introduce yourself. The audience already heard your introduction; now, they want to hear how you can solve their organizing dilemmas.