Speech Introductions Help (page 2)

Updated on Sep 28, 2011

State Your Credentials

It is possible that you will be speaking to an organization of which you are a member, and the audience may already know you quite well. It is even possible that the common bond that draws you all together is the very topic that you'll be speaking about, such as you'd have with a photography club or musicians' organization. Yet even then, they may not know about your extensive knowledge on some branch of that common bond, and they won't know how your topic has enriched your life. And the fact is that most of your experiences speaking in public will not be to such an audience; you may often be addressing a group of people who know very little about you.

Whether or not your audience knows you personally, you will want to acquaint them with your credentials. They will wonder why you are qualified to teach them about your topic; they will want to know how you know what you're talking about. Put yourself in your listener's place: You would not be likely to change your brand of toothpaste just because some stranger accosts you on the street and starts rattling off facts and figures. You would be far more likely to accept the recommendation of a bona fide dentist, because this person has the credentials to know what he or she is talking about.

You are not going to give the audience your autobiography here; you will want to focus specifically on things that give you credibility regarding your speech topic—and nothing more.

Here are a few things that can boost your credibility:

  • Dress appropriately. Anticipate how your audience will dress—then go one notch better. If they'll be in jeans and t-shirts, then you should wear dress slacks and an oxford shirt, and so forth.
  • Be prepared. Nothing builds your confidence as well as knowing what you're about to say.
  • Stand up straight. It's a common temptation to slouch when nervous, so be conscious of this as you walk to the front. Stand straight with your chin up and look directly out at the audience as you begin to speak.
  • Know your credentials—and theirs. Telling an audience of rocket scientists about your experiences with paper airplanes won't gain you credibility. Know in advance where your strengths lie and then tell them to the audience.

Elements of a Good Introduction

Introduce Your Topic or Thesis

The purpose of an introduction is to introduce. That may sound self-evident, but think about its implications. You can be introduced to something or someone that you've never encountered before; and you can have something that is very familiar introduced to your attention; you can even be introduced to a whole new aspect of someone or something that you have long thought you understood fully.

This is just how an introduction works. It introduces the topic to the audience, whether they are deeply knowledgeable on it or not. It focuses on what the audience already knows, and tells them how you're going to show them something they don't know. Fortunately, you covered this base in Lesson 1 when you analyzed the audience. By this point, you know what topics are of interest to your listeners, and you also know how deep their knowledge is on your topic.

Remember this important fact: If the audience thinks they already know what you're going to say, they won't listen; if they think you've got some new information, they will. Your introduction must cater to this "need to know."

View Full Article
Add your own comment