speaker introducing imagine


From Harvard Business ReviewDeborah Grayson Riegel provides outstanding advice on how to introduce a speaker, including examples of what not to do. Her recommendations flow from the goals of the person making the introduction:  do they want to focus the attention of the audience, personally endorse the speaker or create intrigue about what the speaker has to say.  If the goal is to transition the audience, Deborah writes:

Goal 1: To transition the audience from what they are doing or thinking about, and to focus their attention on the speaker.

Your audience members may be thinking about the previous speaker’s remarks, be in the middle of a conversation with a colleague, or checking social media. Your job is to get their attention to help them transition from their current mindset and activities to the speaker who is coming next. In their HBR article, “Five Ways to Hold the Right Kind of Attention,” authors John Hagel III and John Seely Brown contend that “attention provides leverage,” which is what you will need to break people away from their current activities.

Hagel and Brown suggest the following ways to capture people’s attention:

  • Focus inquiry: Start by framing some thought-provoking questions that are relevant to what the speaker will address, such as “How many of you wish you had more time for strategic thinking?” or “Have you ever wanted to throw away your to-do list?” Questions, especially rhetorical ones, prime the listener to agree with the speaker, and we are more likely to listen to content we agree with.
  • Embrace mystery: Start by framing a challenging problem that is relevant to this audience, that isn’t easily resolved, and that the speaker will be addressing. “Here’s a paradox: farmers are among those most likely to be negatively impacted by climate change, and are among those least likely to believe in it.”
  • Excite the imagination: Provide some “what if?” scenarios to illustrate the possibilities that the speaker will address. “What if we could guarantee that the next generation of cloud computing would be 100% secure?”

Read the full story at How to Memorably Introduce Another Speaker