How would you handle this? 🔥 [The person introducing you won't use your introduction)
I've spoken around the block a few times and this is the first time this has ever happened. Don't let it happen to you.
Two questions I ask myself after every speech:
What went well?
What will never happen again?
Well, the speaking experience I am about to share with you will never happen again. This was "a first" for me ... and it better be the last as well. This occurred recently and I'm still dumfounded.
Envision you're the keynote speaker and just about to be introduced. It's a high-stakes speech that should result in numerous spin-off and referral speaking engagements. You're excited to rock the stage. You meet the person introducing you but they don't have the introduction you emailed to them in advance. They apologize forgetting to print it off. No problem because you always print your introduction and have a copy with you.
As you extend your printed introduction to them, this person then tells you not to worry about giving it to them because they've already made up an introduction for you. They then brag about their professional Emcee experience as if they are the keynote speaker.
Externally, you smile at them. Internally, you're mindful of body language because this person is about to be put in their place as professionally as possible. You 'politely inform' them and explain why you need them to introduce you as you've asked to be introduced. Your introduction is as unique as your speech and you have presentation slides that go along with the introduction. You also have walk-up music embedded in the introduction.
If this person doesn't read the introduction exactly how you have prepared for them, then the start of your speech will be destroyed. The opening tone of your speech won't be what you need and you don't have time to delete any slides.
You politely, and professionally, inform the introducer of your rationale and hand them the introduction.
They review it and say, "This isn't how I wanted to introduce you. I'm not reading this."
Here's how I responded:
Internally, and figuratively speaking, my jaw dropped. I was shocked. I couldn't imagine being told this by someone whose only job it was, was to introduce the speaker. I was setting this person UP for success because my introduction are uniquely crafted with audience engagement and humor.
[After 20+ years of speaking, I know that a speaker's introduction is essential ... and frankly, I have my own style that works for me. S0 last thing I need is someone to challenge me in front of my face just before an important keynote speech.]
Our eyes locked for several seconds. Then I replied, "I hear you and you're clear about introducing me the way YOU want to do so. However, I need to reinforce that I have a specific introduction for you already prepared and I did send this to you and the meeting planner. If you do not introduce me exactly this way, my speech opening will look disorganized to the audience and my speech will suffer. Should we go speak to the meeting planner? < insert smile >
Our eyes were still locked ... this time though I could tell they felt my conviction. I have to level UP my intensity without being a jerk.
The introducer did not respond to me. Instead, just walked away. Now I was in further disbelief! Are they going to introduce me the way I expect or the way they want to? Either way, this is not what I want to be on my mind just before a speech.
I had roughly 20 minutes until my speech introduction. I walked to the bathroom and mentally envisioned being introduced 1 of 2 ways ....
I am introduced exactly how I expect and how my introduction was written for this person.
The introducer does their own thing completely disregarding me. I have no clue how they will introduce me, so how will I advance through my introduction slides? How will I start the opening of my speech without it being disorganized? I began to envision and visualize how I would salvage the opening of my speech.
In the spirit of transparency, I'm more angry at myself then I am the introducer. How could I have let this happen? In one of my most important speeches this year, I am punked! What a rookie mistake!
Fast forward 20 minutes and the Emcee takes the stage to introduce me. They do NOT have my introduction in their hand.
"SOAB!" I yelled internally ... a few times.
As they started reading my introduction from their own notecard though, I noticed it was exactly how I had given it to them. I started advancing through my introduction slides in alignment with their introduction. So far so good ... but will this person finish the introduction exactly how I need them to with the music and The Price is Right mention?
Surprisingly they did. This person surprised me by actually reading my introduction exactly as I expected and hoped. Throughout the introduction there was audience laughter and pauses from the introducer, because the introduction itself was working. I could tell even the Emcee was surprised ... that I was right. :)
When I took the stage, I gave them a fist bump and we made eye contact. No words were spoken, but their eyes communicated to me that they were apologetic.
What I learned and hope you will too:
Place in your speaking contract that you will send them a customized introduction unique to setting the tone for your speech. (note: although I have this clause in my speaking contract, it didn't help this situation!)
During your final touchpoint call with the meeting planner, always ask who will be introducing you and explain why it's important to forward them your introduction and meet the introducer in advance. (note: although I did this, it didn't help this situation!)
Print off two(2) copies of your introduction and take with you onsite.
After you meet with meeting planner onsite and the AV people/person, ask to meet the person introducing you. Do this as soon as possible and hours before your speech if possible. (note: in this case, I should have met the person introducing me much sooner in the day. I should not have met them just before my speech.)
Mentally be prepared to open your speech confidently and organized regardless of how you are introduced. Your speech opening sets the tone and is essential! Set yourself UP for success.
If you'd like to watch how I am introduced, read one of my prior "PAID to $PEAK tips" ---
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