I attend a lot of speaking events. Whether I’m helping out one of our professionals, doing a presentation myself, or in the audience, I am often in the room. This is what makes me cringe.
Before the speaker gets on the stage, stands up in front of the room, or even begins to have the chance to say something, you are the gateway to their presentation. Far too many people playing the role of emcee practically ruin the experience by making one of these key mistakes.
Never Fail to Introduce the Speaker
A professional who has come to talk to your group will have provided a biography or other statement for you to read verbatim right before they come up. If for some reason you don’t have it, ask the speaker exactly what they want you to say.
Here are a few terrible statements I’ve heard made by emcees:
- Next up is Bob Smith. Now, I’m sure you all are tired from lunch but please try to pay attention to him.
- Our next speaker is a really nice lady who I just had the chance to meet. Come on up, Jane!
- It’s time for our next session, so I’ll get off the stage.
Why are these all bad things to say before your speaker takes charge? Because they all fail to use your credibility to enhance the presenter!
If you say you don’t think the audience will pay attention because of post-lunch lethargy, or that you’ve never heard of this person before, or that you don’t have anything to say about them, you don’t give the audience a reason to focus.
Read the bio!
Don’t Say Anything About The Speaker’s Pay Rate
One of the huge challenges of this business is that many individuals don’t think that professional speakers need to be paid. We’re constantly having conversations with customers about their budgets and the value of a transformative presentation.
What do you think happens when an event organizer says something like one of the following?
- We paid a lot of money to get Frank here, so I hope you all like him!
- Joe typically charges big bucks but is donating his time to us today.
- This year we decided to hire a speaker rather than have one of our members present.
All of these discussions about price get the audience thinking about the transaction and not thinking about the presenter! As a professional speaker, we want everyone in the room to be primed for the conversation at hand.
Don’t mention anything about price. Read the bio, and that’s it!
Avoid Inside Jokes or Banter
Often the speaker and the event organizers have a chance to meet in a lounge or a dinner the night before. Then, they will get on stage and try to continue the conversation in front of everyone else.
Or, the people running the program will make jokes that are relevant to the audience (such as industry references) but not to the speaker. And again, this is distracting. It derails the start of the presentation.
You may be sensing a theme here. Stick to the script! Don’t say anything else, don’t do anything else. Introduce the speaker they way they want to be, and then make room.
You’ve brought in an outside professional speaker to create a real impact for your organization. Don’t undermine them before they do their job. Set them up for success by introducing them appropriately, and watch as your audience has the experience they deserve!