Public Speaking Essentials – Part 2

Whether it be at a wedding, a friend's birthday party, a conference, or an industry event, as you become more experienced, the chances are that you will be approached to introduce someone or to give the vote of thanks for someone's presentation. These should be pleasurable experiences where you have the opportunity to demonstrate your public speaking capabilities. However, because we lack preparation or experience we fail to do justice to the speaker we are introducing or thanking.

In this second part of a two-part Inspirations on public speaking essentials we shall focus on the introduction and the vote of thanks to give you the confidence to speak when asked and the ability for you and your audience to enjoy the experience.

The Introduction

Most people make a mess of it when they are introducing a speaker, because in my opinion, they either; have taken their role too literally and have "introduced" the speaker, or they have not prepared. Generally, there is a statement about how the speaker is very well informed on the topic and then the biography of the speaker is read out....boring! Also, if you do this you have done the speaker a disservice and left them to do the heavy lifting of generating interest in their speech.

When you introduce someone you are the support act. Your role is to generate interest in the topic and to demonstrate the credentials of the speaker in such a way that the audience will want to listen to them. This is more than some fluff and a statement of a bio which can be read on the event's website.

When I introduce someone, I spend time preparing my introductory speech, using the format that I have developed through experience. I always request that I meet with the speaker before the event so that I can learn a couple of facts about them which do not appear in the biography and also so that I can discuss the topic with them to learn their perspective.

My recommended format for a good introduction is:

  • "Welcome
  • "My name is [] and I am delighted to introduce our speaker today
  • "Thank you for joining us today to learn more about [topic] / It is a testament to the quality of our speaker that there are so many people here today / This is obviously a hot topic with so many people in attendance today
  • "I also want to thank our sponsor(s), [name of sponsor(s)], without whose support we would not be able to hold these events. We are grateful for their continued support." Often in a professional setting there will be a sponsor of the event, and they need to be publically acknowledged so that they will continue to support the event.
  • Provocative statement that is related to the topic and the speech that is to follow. The purpose of this statement is to grab the audience's attention. The reality is your audience will start to lose focus during the acknowledgement of the sponsor and they need to refocus before the speaker commences.
  • Topic introduction. The purpose of this brief introduction of the topic is to generate interest in it. Importantly, you are not covering any of the material in the presentation that is to follow. Rather you are creating context and the need for the presentation that is to follow.
  • Speaker introduction. The speaker's name can appear at the beginning of this section or at the end. There are no hard rules about where you introduce the speaker's name. Your purpose, when introducing the speaker, is to give credibility to them so that the audience will look forward to the presentation. Biographies, typically, are very poor for this purpose because they tend to be a chronological statement of facts that is written to be read, not spoken. If you have been following my mentoring newsletters, you would know that most people have careers that take diverse paths, rarely specialising in a single field. Thus, biographies generally lack sufficient emphasis on the topic that is to be presented. Furthermore, we speak differently to the way we write. Therefore, reading out a biography that was meant to be read and not spoken will be stilted and lack the flow of the spoken word. Accordingly, I prefer to paraphrase the speaker's biography, introducing emphasis in the person's background where it is relevant to the topic upon which they are to speak. And just as important as building up the person's professional credibility is to introduce one or two personal facts into the introduction, which will give some depth to the speaker.
  • "Please join with me in welcoming [speaker] to speak/present on the topic of [topic]."

Notwithstanding these guidelines, there are some presenters where there is no need for an introduction. For example "The Rolling Stones" would do if I was introducing The Rolling Stones. In addition, I had a colleague who was very well known in the industry in which we worked and his preference for an introduction was similar to The Rolling Stones; "Please welcome...." The approach you take will depend upon the speaker and the audience.

The Vote of Thanks

Of the three speeches, the vote of thanks is the hardest. Using the TCUT method means that the acceptance speech can be given spontaneously, without effort; and the introduction can be prepared before the event. The vote of thanks, however, is written during the presentation!

My approach is to use a two part vote of thanks, comprising; respectful comments to the speaker; and the thank you.

It is the respectful comments to the speaker that you prepare during the presentation. With these comments, you emphasise the key messages that you gained from the presentation – preferably between two and five messages – and you give the call to arms (ie action) that is to be undertaken by the audience following the presentation. Hopefully, if the presenter was a good speaker they would have stated the call to arms in their presentation (refer for more information), if not, you have to do it for them. Either way, your role as the provider of the vote of thanks is to concentrate during the presentation to find those points that you wish to highlight.

The "thank you" section is where you thank; the speaker, the organiser, the sponsor, and the audience.

For example:

  • "Thank you [name of speaker] for such an informative / interesting / entertaining speech / presentation on [topic]
  • "The key messages for me were:
      • [message and why important]
      • [message and why important]
      • [message and why important]
      • [message and why important]
      • [message and why important]
  • "As [name of speaker] said, I would encourage you to / now that we have heard [speaker] we can [do...]
  • "Please join with me in thanking [speaker] for a stimulating / informative / excellent presentation" [clap]
  • "I also wish to thank [organiser] for putting on such an excellent event. A lot of effort goes on behind the scenes to make these events a success, so my thanks goes to [organiser]" [clap]
  • "I also wish to thank [sponsor(s)] for their support, without which we could not hold such events" [clap]
  • "And thank you [to the audience]. Without your support we would not be able to hold events like these"
  • "Good afternoon / morning / evening.


In these two Inspirations we have provided tips and guidelines for public speaking essentials on three of the most common speeches you will be asked to give. Using these tips and guidelines will ensure that you and your audience will enjoy your speaking experiences and they will help you to become recognised as an excellent speaker. Contact Inspirational Leaders (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to learn more about public speaking.


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