When You're the Emcee

If you’re ever asked to introduce the honoree(s) or speaker(s) at an in-person event—and wonder how to up your chances of eliciting hearty applause—here are some guidelines:

  • Relate just a few examples of why “our next honoree” or “our speaker today” deserves attention. Appropriate humor or a short anecdote that reveals a little-known facet of the person’s character can work wonders in keeping the audience’s eyes off their phones. With multiple intros, vary your structure and style.
  • Only speak the person’s name at the very end. Good introductions create tension—not from wondering who the person is (which is probably known), but from an unbroken string of words that focuses on the person’s life and actions and climaxes with the name. Uttering it earlier breaks this tension—and introduces them prematurely.
  • Keep it under a minute. Besides not trying the audience’s patience, this forces you to be concise.
  • If the person makes an entrance, some form of “Please welcome ,,, ” makes a good ending. Otherwise, try some form of “It is my honor/pleasure to introduce … ”
  • Be certain of all name pronunciations.
  • Practice your intros aloud and edit for fluency. Also consider practicing with the mic or asking a colleague to signal during the event if you lose volume.

And don’t forget to enjoy yourself.