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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - guest speakers and presenters on webinars are an invaluable resource. Not only can they help create some amazing content, having a variety of speakers can liven up a webinar and drive real engagement with the audience.
Let’s say you do decide to tap into this resource and have guests on your webinar. A question a lot of moderators have is ‘what is the best way to introduce a speaker on my webinar?’
There is the fear that if you misfire when introducing a guest speaker during your online event, you could lose the audience right from the start.
So how do you avoid that? Like with anything else you have to set a goal and work towards it. When introducing someone, your goal should be to build the audience’s anticipation not just about the upcoming content but also about the person they’re about to hear from.
You want to tap into what makes them special or an expert in this subject. Here are a few quick tips and tricks that can ensure you get (and keep) your audience’s attention from the start.
This may seem obvious, but planning and preparing the webinar intro is essential. A lot of us like to think we are good off the cuff, but you don’t want to be stuck at the beginning of a webinar and forget the important details that make your presenters unique.
Dreaded ‘dead-airtime’ by pausing to think of what to say next is why we are huge advocates of crafting webinar scripts. Within your script you can draft and refine how you want to introduce your speakers. This will help you avoid those tumble weed moments, and allow you to focus on building anticipation and facilitating meaningful engagement with your speakers and audience.
Before writing your opening, ask yourself this question: 'Why is the speaker qualified to deliver this presentation?'
Build your introduction around the answer to this and do a little background research.
Look at their achievements, experience, qualifications etc. and focus on the ones that are relevant to your webinar topic. LinkedIn is a useful place to start for this. A little LinkedIn stalking will give a clear idea of their professional history and background. Even if it’s a colleague or someone you know, the more information you have, the better.
Again, obvious but important. The preparation and research you conducted should feed into an intro that builds the credibility of your webinar speakers. Will your audience care that Jane Doe from the ABC Company will be presenting on the solar system today?
Probably not, especially when Wikipedia exists.
However, stating that: 'Dr Doe, who will be giving us a short presentation on the solar system today, holds a PhD in Astrophysics and has 8 years prior experience working for NASA', you’re enhancing the speaker's credibility. I would definitely listen to a webinar about the solar system from Dr Doe.
Emphasizing your presenters’ reputation and what they can bring to the webinar is vital to peaking the audience's interest in what’s to come.
But remember, keep the facts relevant and don’t over-hype the speaker.
Include irrelevant facts and you risk boring attendees with useless information that has nothing to do with the event topic. While the fact that Dr Doe’s favorite film is Infinity War may be interesting to me, your audience probably won’t care.
And while it’s great to build a sense of excitement, over-hype the presenter and you risk creating unrealistic expectations of both them and the content they’ve prepared.
Guest speakers are something to shout about! It’s awesome to get to hear from industry experts about a topic you’re interested in. Be enthusiastic in your description of them and what they are there to do.
Use descriptive, upbeat language that creates a sense of anticipation. Words like expert, industry expert, special guest are all excellent to throw in there.
If you don’t seem enthusiastic when introducing your speaker, this will filter through to the audience and quickly dampen any buzz among attendees. Make sure to choose your words carefully. It’s important that, no matter how brief your opening might be, you speak in the correct tone of voice.
Your prepared statements will help in delivering an enthusiastic, but also professional introduction.
Ok, so this can be considered a little controversial because it can be good (sometimes) to be a little ‘off-the-cuff’ during a presentation.
However, consider this: Your speaker has prepared their own webinar intro after you’ve already introduced them. It outlines, word-for-word, what they’re going to say. Suddenly, you decide to throw in a few anecdotes about your experiences working with them many years ago, without their knowledge...They probably weren’t expecting that!
It might surprise them slightly and throw them off their game. Or worse, you may touch on points that they were going to make. Now, their presentation seems repetitive and unprepared.
Even if the ad-libbing is harmless, it’s not always best for professional presentations. The audience loses out on a sharp introduction, the speaker may seem less credible if they fluff their lines and you may come across looking bad yourself.
Judge the situation on its merits. But, perhaps let the speaker know what you’ll be saying beforehand. It will keep you all on the same page (and topic).
A live-intro is a great way to get the audience excited about your speakers, but you may also want to think outside the box. Have you considered embedding a pre-recorded video into your presentation? It might better illustrate them and who they are, especially if it provides context for their expertise.
Not only does it save you the time of drafting an introduction for your webinar, it gives the audience a visual representation of what they can expect during your webinar (and people love video!).
One last thing to remember - time it! Tailor the length of your speaker introductions to the length of your online event.
You shouldn’t be doing a 15-minute intro for one speaker in a 45-minute webinar. If your event is due to last for an hour, perhaps take a minute or a minute-and-a-half tops to introduce your speaker.
For online events where time is of the essence, cut it down slightly.
In the end, it's totally up to how you want to introduce your speaker, but we hope these tips helped! For more tips on how to up your webinar game, check out our ultimate webinar checklist.