How to Ace the Keynote Speaker Introduction

Keynote speakers do need introductions. Even the speakers that “need no introduction” need introductions. It doesn’t matter if it’s the President of the United States or the biggest pop star in the world, the audience still needs to know what topic is being discussed and why this speaker is the best choice to talk about the topic.

A good introduction is crucial to set up the speaker’s talk for success—no matter how famous the person is. Done well, a good intro excites your audience’s interest for what’s to come. Done poorly, your intro will leave the audience cold and unconvinced of why they are listening to this person.

All successful introductions should answer these questions in the audience’s mind and in this order.

  1. What is the topic?
  2. How is this topic relevant to me?
  3. Why is this speaker an expert on this topic?
  4. Who is the speaker?

The other two important elements are the intros length and the delivery.

Length: Good intros are short. Very short. Thirty seconds is all you need to cover the four things on top. Any shorter and the audience doesn’t know enough about the speaker or topic to get excited, and any longer and you are beginning to test the patience of the audience.

Delivery: Delivery is critical for the keynote intro. The MC needs to show the speaker’s credibility. If the MC doesn’t sound excited or interested, the audience will not be either.

Here’s a sample introduction that answers the four questions:

Today, we have a great keynote speaker for you. She’s funny, a great storyteller, and she’s going to give us some actionable ideas about how each of you can succeed as a team at BigCompany. She’s turned around dozens of Fortune 500 companies, including Starbucks, Amazon, and Apple, is the author of the bestselling book Finding the Me in Team, and won an Olympic Gold Medal in bobsledding. So please put your hands together for a warm welcome for…

After that, the MC should start the clapping and the keynote speaker has been properly introduced.