I think we can all agree that how you introduce somebody greatly affects how they are received. We, at The Amplify Lab, see this all the time as Joanna spends a lot of time on stage presenting and therefore being introduced to all different kinds of audiences. No two introductions are the same, for good reason. Some are fabulous and some, not so much.
You might be wondering, why does this matter to me? Well, it matters because introductions don’t only happen up on stage. They happen everywhere, every day. In professional and personal settings we introduce people and people introduce us. And, in every instance, the introduction influences the interaction. And now during this unique time, we’ve got a new place to introduce ourselves – the virtual video call.
Thanks to a conversation with a brilliant client, who undoubtedly has the magic touch when it comes to the art of an introduction, we were inspired to share 4 tips to consider the next time you introduce somebody at your next virtual meeting.
1. DIMINISH THE ACCOLADES.
An introduction isn’t the time to list all the places your presenter has worked or all the accomplishments they have made. Contrary to popular practice, you don’t need to start by convincing the audience of your presenter’s worth – their worth has already been established by the fact that they have been invited to the table. They have already been vetted, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. Besides, if the audience is really curious about the presenter’s resume, they can check it out on LinkedIn later, if they haven’t already. For example, with Joanna, I would get straight to the point and start strong by saying, “I’d like to introduce you to Joanna Bloor. I could tell you all about her credentials and where she has worked but that’s not why she is here. She’s here to show us why we need to change.”
2. PREPARE THE AUDIENCE FOR THE PRESENTER, NOT NECESSARILY THE CONTENT.
It’s terribly disorienting when something isn’t what you expected – just imagine how long it took Bridget Jones to feel comfortable after she arrived at an event dressed in a bunny outfit, to learn it was a cocktail, not costume party. That said, make sure your audience is ready for the tone and vibe of the presenter. What is their personality type? Are they reserved? Outspoken? Sarcastic? Nurturing? Humorous? By knowing what to expect of the presenter, they won’t have to waste time getting into the right mindset and as a result will feel ready, more empowered and immediately engaged.
And remember, this isn’t the time to sum up what the presentation is going to be about. Let the presenter deliver their message. Don’t spoil the content by jumping the gun.
As you know, Joanna is a firecracker and like with firecrackers, you need to be warned before they go off so you can enjoy the show without being startled. So for Joanna, I might say, “The situation is this (fill in the blank)… And you probably feel like there isn’t a way to change it. That’s why Joanna is here. She is a change agent. She is here to show us that despite how you might feel or what the situation is, we have agency of how we show up and how people see the best of us. Let me be clear, she is not a cheerleader or a fluffy motivational speaker – she is your tough big sister who will not just recognize how special you are but push you to see it and kick you into motion.”
3. REMIND THE AUDIENCE OF WHY YOU ARE INTRODUCING THEM TO YOUR PRESENTER AND REINFORCE WITH POSITIVITY.
Applaud (figuratively speaking) the audience for the mindset that brought them to this place. This subconscious reinforcement reminds them of why they want to meet this person and opens them up to hearing what they have to say. For example, when introducing Joanna, I might say, “If you didn’t want to be challenged, you wouldn’t be in this room.” Or “Are you 100% happy with where you are? Probably not. If you didn’t want to do something differently and find support in doing that something, you wouldn’t be here.”
4. HANDOFF WITH A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION.
The audience not only needs to know what to expect of the presenter but what the presenter is going to expect of the audience. Is this a time to sit back and listen? Is this a time to lean forward and speak up? Be clear so that everybody is on the same page and gets the most out of the interaction. For example, Joanna is highly interactive and at her best when the people she is with participate. So I would give her the stage by saying, “Before I hand it over to Joanna, I urge you… If Joanna asks for a volunteer, do what you came for. Raise your hand!”
In a world that is becoming increasingly virtual, it’s arguably even more important that we hone our skills for introducing people given the lack of social cues you would otherwise receive in-person. So let’s get good at it and show others how to be good at it too. You never know when you’ll need them to introduce you!
There’s also a really big hidden lesson in these ideas. We tend to introduce ourselves more often than having someone introduce us. So here’s your challenge, using those 4 tips, craft how you would want somebody to introduce you to us. By thinking about how someone else should introduce you, the exercise feels a little less like a brag session. Once you have something that works for you, flip it around and figure out how you want to introduce yourself.
Joanna will tell you that she loves it when an audience is ready and excited to hear what it is she has to say. “It means I can get the goodies and the real value to the audience faster.” Isn’t that what you want for yourself?
We’d love you to share it with us because, well, we’d love to meet you! Shoot us your new introduction here.
*Kelly is a word wizard and storyteller. She joined Team Amplify Lab at the beginning of 2020 and now we can’t imagine what we would do without her.