How Introduction Abuse Ruins Presentations

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How Introduction Abuse Ruins Presentations

August 23, 2016

by Dan Solin

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It’s time for me to confess to an uncomfortable reality: I am the victim of “introduction abuse.” Too often, my presentations are undermined before I say the first word.

When does “introduction abuse” occur?

Let me give this issue some context. Advisory firms all over North America sponsor me to give talks to their prospects. Sometimes I am asked to speak about investing. But these days, it’s more common for me to talk about how to convert more prospects into clients or customers. Advisory firms find it is easier to draw a crowd when the subject more directly benefits the audience. Everyone is interested in increasing their top and bottom lines. Audiences are jaded about listening to what seems like an infomercial for the sponsoring firm.

Whatever the topic, it falls to the sponsoring firm to do the introduction. The partner in the firm who organized the event eagerly undertakes this task. You would think the introduction would go smoothly. More often than not, however, it becomes an example of “introduction abuse.”

Don’t read the introduction

Standing in front of an audience is difficult. Writing out what you are going to say is a good start. Get someone you trust to edit it, and ask the speaker for comments as well.

Then memorize it.

Practice until you feel comfortable delivering it without notes.

When you read an introduction, your voice will reflect a lack of enthusiasm. When you converse with your audience, your facial expression and the tenor of your voice will be animated.

Show you’re genuinely enthused about what is to follow. Reading you are “excited” actually conveys to the audience you aren’t. Worse still, you’re signaling that maybe they shouldn’t be either.

The paramount rule for giving introductions is this: Don’t read them. If I can commit my entire talk to memory (which I do), you can memorize your introduction. Engage the audience by looking directly at them.

You can’t do that by staring at a piece of paper.

Introduce me. Not you.

Let’s go back to basics. The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the speaker to the audience and build anticipation for his talk. Sounds simple, but here’s where the abuse happens.

Don’t use the introduction to introduce you and your firm to the audience. This creates a litany of problems.

The audience feels deceived. It was lured to the event to hear a talk on how to generate more business. Now it appears that was bait for a prospecting event where you are overtly soliciting business.

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