Don’t Risk a Bad Start: Bring Your Speaker Introduction


Your speaker introduction is an important part of your presentation.  It should get  the audience leaning forward with anticipation of the topic and also set up your credibility (here’s a post on how to write your speaker introduction).  Unless you have a video of your introduction played just prior to your presentation (which can be very effective, if the technology works), you don’t have complete control over your introduction.  The number one challenge I’ve seen with introductions is that the introducer doesn’t have one!

Sometimes the speaker has neglected to email the introduction ahead of time, but often the introducer has simply forgotten to bring it or has misplaced it.  I’d say this happens about 50%  of the time.

It doesn’t upset or surprise me.  Usually, the introducer has a lot to remember and that little detail escapes them.  It’s my job, as a speaker, to make them look good, so I always bring a couple of copies of my introduction to have on hand.  I check in with the person introducing me and ask if they have a copy, and if not, I hand them a copy (the other copy I keep, just in case the introducer misplaces the copy I give them).

If time allows, I ask them to read it out loud.  “Why don’t you read it out loud right now so that you are comfortable with it?  I know my last name can be a little tricky.” (I have the phonetic spelling of my name in parentheses in the introduction).  I’m amazed at how badly some people read introductions, if they haven’t run through them once.

Of course, I try to keep the introductions short, simple and on one page.  I use a 16 point font and lots of white space.  I also include ellipses and a smiley face where I have a bit of a humorous punch line.

Example: intro snippet

Another method that I’ve just started using is to have my introductions on my phone (actually in my camera roll in an album called “introductions”),  If I misplace my extra copy, I can text it to the introducer, or just hand them my phone. I haven’t had a chance to try this method out yet, but it seemed a reasonable plan C.

Add “Bring Speaker Introduction” to your engagement checklist.  You have a checklist, right?

The Cure for Stage Fright

Stage fright curePerhaps you know the feeling.  The tightness that grips your stomach.  The racing heart. The sweaty palms. The shaking hands or legs.

All physical symptoms of the fear of public speaking.

The intuitive approach is to try to calm yourself. While some deep breaths are a good idea (you do need oxygen to your brain!), telling yourself to calm down isn’t.

Several experiments have shown that telling yourself to get excited rather than trying to relax can improve your performance during anxiety-inducing activities such as public speaking.

“In one experiment, 140 participants (63 men and 77 women) were told to prepare a persuasive public speech on why they would be good work partners. To increase anxiety, a researcher videotaped the speeches and said they would be judged by a committee. Before delivering the speech, participants were instructed to say “I am excited” or “I am calm.” The subjects who said they were excited gave longer speeches and were more persuasive, competent and relaxed than those who said they were calm, according to ratings by independent evaluators.”

Read the Journal of Experimental Psychology article

There are several ways you can get excited shortly before speaking:

Verbalization:  Say, with feeling, “I am exited!” and other phrases, such as, “I can’t wait to give them my message!”  or, “I’m about to change their lives!”

Thoughts:  You can verbalize in your mind, if not out loud.

Visualization:  Visualize yourself as excited and dynamic before an audience.

Physically:  Get your heart going on purpose!  Jog in place.  Breath more deeply and faster, like you are about to dive into water.  Stand tall with excitement.

Music:  Listen to upbeat music.

How do you get excited?

Additional posts on managing the fear of public speaking:

Manage the fear: The Inner Game

Manage the fear:  The Outer Game

Get Excited and Carry on

Writing and Publishing Ebooks for Speakers


It was July 30, 2010 and I sat across from Mark LeBlanc, a business consultant and former National Speaker Association National president.  He looked at me with his hound dog eyes and said, “You need to write a book. And you can do it next month”  It wasn’t a suggestion.  It was a “demandment.”

I stared back at him, thinking: I have no time.  I have no money.  I have no knowledge.

I had no time.  I worked two part-time jobs and had three teenagers at home, one of whom I was homeschooling.

I had no money.  We had a failing technology business.  Later that year we would be filing for bankruptcy.

I had no knowledge.  I didn’t know the first thing about self-publishing.

So with those thoughts swirling in my head, I said: “I think I can do that.”

I don’t know where those words came from, but if Mark thought I could do it, then I believed I could.

Three months later, I had self-published my first book, Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success.  And now, three and half years later, have a total of 5 self-published books and one co-authored book published by McGraw Hill (Diane’s Amazon Author Page).  I bring in passive income of about $1000/month from Amazon sales.  And, the increased credibility has led to speaking engagements (and back-of-the-room book sales) and media interviews.

I learned that I didn’t need much time because I could use content I already created.  Four of my books were originally blog posts and one was curriculum for a class.  After the first book, I published my books in less than a week, including both print and ebook formats. For the last book, which I published only as a Kindle ebook, the total time was about 5 hours (and that including cutting and pasting content from my newsletters, writing an introduction and a conclusion, and formatting).  For that first book, I carved out time from 5:15-6:15 AM Monday-Friday, about 20 hours total, to massage blog content and add a few chapters.

I learned that I didn’t need much money.  My first book cost about $800 to self publish and that included buying a block of 10 ISBN numbers for $250, and hiring out editing, formatting for both print and ebooks, and cover design. Most of the subsequent books cost $30 or less because I did everything myself.

I learned that I didn’t need much knowledge.  I still haven’t read a book on self-publishing. For the first book, I googled “how to self-publish” and learned as I went along.

If I can do it, you can do it.

You don’t need a lot of time. You don’t need a lot of money. You don’t need a lot of knowledge.

I can’t do anything about your time or money situation, but I can help with the knowledge, at least to give you an orientation to self-publishing, with a focus on ebooks.

Click here for a 2-page overview “Writing and Producing Ebooks for Speakers”

Self-publishing ebooks

 And, then . . . Just do it!


Free ebook–Public Speaking Lessons from TED Talks

Free until Saturday, March 8, 2014

Get your free Kindle version of the short e-book,
Public Speaking Lessons from TED Talks: The Good and the Bad
from the 10 Most-Viewed TED Talks
Imagine giving a powerful, TEDTalk-Style Presentation.  You can learn insightful tips from this ebook, a compilation my past 10 posts on the top 10 most-viewed TED Talks.  The good.  The bad.  And, how you can apply the lessons.

It’s free on Kindle through Saturday (after Saturday, it’s only $0.99).

Here is the “Big Take Away” from each of the TED Talks–read more in the ebook

#10—Use “you” language and bring your audience into a scene. (The Puzzle of Motivation, Dan Pink)

#9—A unique idea, well-described or demonstrated, will captivate an audience.  (The SixthSense Interaction, Patti Maes)

#8—If you have fascinating visuals, you can let them be the star. (Underwater Astonishments, David Gallo)

#7— Fake it till you become it! (Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Amy Cuddy)

#6— Content trumps delivery.  What you say (or show) is important. (The Thrilling Potential of SixthSense, Pranav Mistry)

#5—Telling 3 stories can make a great speech. (How to Live Before You Die, Steve Jobs)

#4— Turn a tragedy into insight for yourself and for others. (My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor)

#3—Be real. Be vulnerable. Connect. (The Power of Vulnerability, Brenè Brown)

#2—Start with why. (How Great Leaders Inspire Action–Simon Sinek)

#1—Start with humor.  End with heart. (How Schools Kill Creativity, Ken Robinson)

Click here for the KINDLE VERSION Free until Saturday

If you have a chance and can leave a review on Amazon, I’d appreciate it!