Have you ever given a speech when you’ve had a special guest? Maybe your parents came out to listen to you. Or maybe you were expecting to do a keynote for a company group when the CEO shows up unexpectedly.
Scary isn’t it?
But it doesn’t have to be. There are a few simple rules to help you appropriately recognize special guests during your speech. They aren’t complex and they will help you to do so apparently on the spur of the moment.
In this article I’m going to give you seven questions to help answer the overall question of “How to appropriately recognize Special Guests during your speech?”
1. Who are you introducing them for? There are only four basic people you are introducing them for. You can introduce them for yourself. You can introduce them for your audience. You can introduce them for themselves. Or you can introduce them for the organizer. Beware of introducing them for your own reasons. It can too easily become a sophisticated form of name dropping. The best reason is to honor them.
2. Do you really have to recognize them? There are many reasons you might introduce a special guest. Each reason will impose its own rules on how you introduce them. For example, you might introduce your parents to thank them for encouraging you. Or you might introduce the CEO to thank him for giving you the opportunity to speak. But not all of these are valid reasons. So the second question you need to answer is “Do you really have to recognize them at all?” If so, then you’ll know why you need to introduce them and have a start to something to say around the introduction.
3. Will they thank you for introducing them? There’s a story told about a club owner in New York who introduced Janis Joplin. He asked her to join the cover band on stage. Being unable to refuse, she did to a string of muttered curses. When she reached the stage she found that the band didn’t know any of her songs. Being notoriously shy, she proceeded to vent at the top of her voice in four-letter descriptions of the club owner.
Being in front of an audience is an enormously frightening thing. Don’t ever embarrass your special guest. If in doubt, err on the side of not having them stand. Simply saying something on the lines of, “I’d like thank our special guest for joining us tonight.” followed by a list of why you’re thanking them, and “So, thank you.” accomplishes the job without forcing them to stand.
4. What type of speech are you giving? Different types of speeches have different requirements. A formal speech, for example, often has a specific point in which you thank special guests.
5. Are you introducing anyone else? If you have a number of people to introduce, such as in a formal speech, you may want to introduce them at the same time. On the other hand, you may also want to spread the introductions out so that it doesn’t sound like you are listing people who are attending.
6. Will an introduction fit into the thank you portion? Most speeches have a thank you at the beginning and at the end. Sometimes, you can fit your introduction in best during the thank you. For example, you can thank the CEO during the thank you to the organizers and then ask him or her to stand.
7. Are you talking about them at any point in your speech? One of the best methods is to incorporate your introduction in your speech with a story involving them. For example, you may have a portion of your speech where you are discussing an important lesson your parents taught you. This would be a good time to ask the audience if they would like to meet them. You can then ask your parents to stand.