Communication Skills - Preparing Your Pre-Introduction

At the very beginning of a presentation there is often a brief period when people need to finish conversations, text messages, or whatever else they might be doing so they can settle down to listen. Also, when you first begin to speak your audience has to adjust to your delivery style - not only your voice or accent but also your body language and facial expressions.

This settling down period is usually fairly brief but you do not want to say anything important until the audience is receptive. The purpose of the pre-introduction is to allow these adjustments to take place before you begin your introduction.

Pre-introduction of a presentation

An effective pre-introduction involves saying something that has no other purpose than to get people's attention and make sure that they are listening to you so that they can hear your full introduction.

The pre-introduction is less important if another speaker is introducing you but nonetheless it can still be worth saying a few words to make sure that you have the audience's full attention. There are several strategies for deciding what to say as part of the pre-introduction. You can use a:

• Rhetorical question,
• Reference to something that everyone knows is happening within the organization, or
• Reference to something said by an earlier speaker.

Another reason for a pre-introduction is that presenters who are nervous often race through the first few seconds of their presentation before they settle down into a more measured pace. It can also take a few sentences to adjust the volume of your voice so that everyone in the room can hear you.

The pre-introduction significantly reduces the chances of losing people at the beginning of the presentation. For example, if the first words you plan to say are,

'Good afternoon, I'm Jo Smith from finance'

and only two-thirds of the audience hear you say it, the remaining third are likely to expend their mental energy trying to work out exactly who you are, rather than following the substance of what you are saying.

You may also be interested in:
Preparing a Management Presentation | Repetition and Timing | Your Presentation Aim | The Five-Stage Format | Preparing the Main Body | Key Point Guidelines | Finalizing the Main Body | Preparing the Introduction | Preparing the Summary and Conclusion.

Key Points

  • A pre-introduction serves to get people's attention and to ensure that they are listening to you so that they can hear your full introduction.
  • It may be unnecessary if a chairperson or another speaker is formally introducing you, but even then it can help you to judge the volume and pace of your delivery before you say anything important.
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