Your host asks, “How would you like to be introduced?”

Here are two responses:

The Amateur: “Oh, whatever. Just pick a couple of things out of my bio.”

The Pro: (whipping out a one-minute intro in an easy-to-read 20-point font): “This would be perfect, thanks.”

Don’t be shocked if the person introducing you doesn’t have a copy of the intro you emailed them a month prior to the event. I NEVER arrive at an event without a printed intro in my jacket pocket, because you’d be STUNNED at how often they forget it/misplace it/left it in the car/didn’t get it, whatever. It’s particularly important for a humorist like me to get a proper introduction so I don’t have to dig myself out of a depressing hole from the get-go. As a matter of fact, I go even further: I’ve deliberately arranged for the person introducing me to be my opening act, because I put at least two good laughs in my intro that even the WORST introducer has a hard time screwing up, e.g.: “He’s survived a terrifying stay in an African prison, two deadly diseases, and one near-fatal marriage.”

However, even a business speaker with the most serious message can get sabotaged by, A) not having an intro prepared and printed, or B) an incompetent introducer. Two common ways incompetent introducers undercut speakers are getting the facts wrong, and dragging out an intro until you’re sick of listening to them. In the first case, the speaker is forced to backtrack from his/her opening, “Thank you, Jerry, but I’m actually not an expert on diversity—though I wish I knew more about that fascinating topic. And, just to set the record straight, I got my Ph D. at TCU, not LSU, go Horned Frogs! Heh, heh. Anyway, today I’m going to be sharing with you some of the most recent…” Ugh. Awkward! Who needs that?

It’s pretty easy to prevent the latter problem: NEVER let anyone else “throw something together from your bio.” Email the client a snappy, one-minute intro when you book the event, again a week before you speak, and if they don’t get the hint, hand them one printed in large type and just say, “This would be perfect, thanks.”

One of my typical introductions is below. Note that the person introducing me has a very good chance of getting two laughs, exactly what a humorist wants:

“Our speaker this morning has an unusual list of accomplishments to say the least. He’s appeared in several feature films and numerous TV shows, including the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was born and raised in Mississippi, and—before becoming an entertainer—was an award-winning journalist and a black belt karate champion. Over the years, he has managed to survive a terrifying stay in an African prison, two deadly diseases, and one near-fatal marriage. In addition, he is the only living comedian who has been kicked repeatedly in the backside by karate champion Chuck Norris. He’s here to entertain and to share with us some of the tools he’s used to achieve his many goals. Please welcome Mack Dryden.”

The chapter “How to Dazzle Onstage” in both of my eBooks contains several more tips about creating the perfect introduction, and the pitfalls to avoid.