The other week a new member gave a speech. She engaged the audience, she was passionate about the topic and she educated us on something we knew very little about. There was just one problem: the introduction was short and she spent at least another minute on (additional) introductions before she really got into the meat of the talk. In my opinion, that was a minute she could have spent engaging and showing her passion, rather than on introductions.
To most of the Toastmasters’ meetings I’ve attended, the intro often holds great potential, but more often than not the potential is never fully realized. It wasn’t until I attended Darren LaCroix’s workshop where he taught us about the power of using the introduction to our advantage that I saw the light, so to speak.
Do you feel like introductions are a necessary evil or do you recognize them as a (largely) untapped opportunity? For many years, it was the former for me. Every time I was scheduled to speak the Toastmaster would dutifully email me asking for a short introduction. I always wanted to respond, “I don’t know! Can you read my mind and magically create an introduction for me? It would be a lot easier!” I had spent countless hours writing, rehearsing, and perfecting my speech. I didn’t have additional energy to write an introduction to go along with my crafted work.
I’ve come to learn a great introduction can make or break an audience’s reception. Take the EPIC Event with Ryan Avery at the Vancouver General Hospital back in February of this year. Paula Howley was the emcee and she had the audience PUMPED and ready to go before the speakers even left their seats. She had contact me (a speaker) ahead of time and asked me very simple questions and I gave her simple responses. That night, I was impressed with how she took my simple answers and wove them into a magical introduction. She must have spent an insane number of hours crafting every word. The effort showed, and the audience was abuzz with energy even before I opened my mouth.
Am I able to craft a strong introduction now? Not always, not often. In turn when I’m the Toastmaster, I often feel like I’m floundering trying to come up with some sort of introduction that will get the audience pumped up. Recently I have felt very proud of myself for making small strides: the last two humorous speeches I’ve done I have also included jokes in the introduction I gave to the Toastmaster. It sure felt great to hear those jokes got a few good laughs from the club, even before I stepped in front of the lectern.
One step at a time.
How do you help the Toastmaster craft and introduction that will pump up the audience? All tips/comments/stories will be much appreciated.