Establishing Credibility and Likeability
Two necessary goals when being introduced as a keynote speaker
Imagine this scenario: You were just selected to be the keynote speaker at a conference. This is a great opportunity for you to establish yourself as an authority in your field to a captive audience of potential clients. Of course, developing a short speech that grabs and holds the audience’s attention is essential. But, to make an even stronger, positive impression, you need to actually grab your audience’s attention before you take the stage. That means you must establish credibility and set the stage for likeability. How? By always writing your own engaging introduction and sending it to the emcee or speaker coordinator.
Speakers are almost always asked to send the host who invited them to speak a copy of their professional bio. More often than not, that bio is what the emcee will read from when delivering your introduction. Methodically he will recite your title, your job description, every job you held before, degrees you earned, major accomplishments. While these achievements are needed to establish the speaker’s credibility, listening to a narrative of someone’s resume is about as exciting as hearing someone read the instructions for completing a W2 tax form.
As you start writing, address the likeability factor first by giving your audience a little insight into your personality. For example, open with a very, very short narrative about your childhood dream job, a failure that made you change course, or how someone you met inspired you, which eventually led you to where you are today. If you are struggling with finding the right example, ask a few colleagues to anonymously describe you in a few words. This will not only give you an outside perspective but can be used to as commentary for the emcee such as colleagues describe her as both fearless and funny in stressful situations. These are the type of statements that give a glimpse to human side of you.
Carmie’s pro tip: Write your introduction as if you were the emcee so you know exactly how it will sound
Once you’ve tackled the likeability factor, next establish the credibility factor. This can include academic, educational, and professional achievements, but don’t overdo it. Only mention the ones most relevant to the topic on which you are speaking. However, if you have a particularly unusual degree or accomplishment that has nothing to do with your present career and would probably surprise your audience, add it as a “fun fact.”
And, as with any speech or presentation, keep your introduction short. I recommend no more than 225 to 260 words. It should be about one page, double spaced, in a 12 to 14 point font, and can be delivered in one minute or less. Audiences decide within the first 30 seconds whether they “like” the speaker or not. Using these tips to write your own introduction will help jump-start your positive connection with your audience.
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