Many professional speakers will have their own introductions that they give to the hosts of events that they have been invited to attend. Using this should save you the effort of doing some of the work below, although many of the points still apply.
Here are some tips for providing an effective introduction for your conference speakers:
Always bear in mind the essential purpose of the introduction
You are trying to build excitement in the audience for the speech that they are about to hear. In doing this, it's vital to clearly communicate the topic that the speech is about, the importance of the topic for the audience and the credibility of the speaker in addressing this topic.
Prepare and practice
This is something that far too few people who are making introductions devote time towards. If you make a mess of the introduction then you undermine not only your credibility, but also the credibility of your speaker. The introduction should be written out in full, edited and then practiced several times. It should also be shown to the speaker to make sure that he or she is happy with the contents.
If possible, memorise the introduction
Speaking without notes will give extra authority to what you're saying about the topic and the speaker. If you can't quite manage to memorise everything then try to keep your notes to a minimum and be sure to memorise your final line in order to give a bit of momentum to your speaker.
Convey enthusiasm about the speaker
To be genuinely enthusiastic about a speaker you need to know something about him or her. Researching the achievements of the speaker that you're introducing is a necessary prerequisite to writing an effective introduction. Your aim should be to get yourself to a stage where you're genuinely excited to introduce the speaker.
Make sure that you know how to pronounce the speaker's name, the title of the presentation and key terms relating to the presentation. Enthusiastically introducing a speaker only to have them correct your pronunciation as soon as she gets up to speak will undermine your credibility and ruin the speaker's momentum.
Any facts that you quote in your introduction must be cross checked to ensure accuracy. Getting key facts wrong will lead to the audience immediately discounting your opinion about the speaker. More often than not it will also lead to the speaker starting the speech by setting you straight.
Finally, don't change the title of the presentation. Speakers will usually have spent some time choosing a precise form of words and you should respect their choice.
Occasionally, it might be appropriate to inject some levity into proceedings if you are following a particularly dark presentation. However, in general, it is best to keep introductions fairly straight in order to focus attention on the interesting material that the speaker you are introducing will be talking about.
Keep it relevant and concise
Only mention the biographical details of your speaker that are relevant to the topic at hand. Even the relevant details can be kept down to two or three main items in order to keep the introduction short. The precise length of the introduction will vary depending on the length of the speech. Sixty to ninety seconds should be sufficient for most speeches. For a keynote speech that is to last for an hour or so, two to three minutes might be justified.
Don't outline the speech
This is never a good idea. Giving too much detail about what the speaker is going to say will ruin the impact when they actually say it. If you've heard the speaker give a similar speech in the past, then you might be tempted to give some teasers in your introduction. This is best avoided in case the speaker has changed the speech to suit your event and has removed the section that you're referring to in the process.
When you introduce the speaker, your aim is to build enthusiasm for the speech that is about to be delivered. If you allow this to tip over into exaggeration then the effect can be counterproductive. The audience will typically ignore unnecessary superlatives and may become hardened sceptics about the speech to come if you are too over the top in describing the benefits of listening to your speaker.
Finish on a high
While it is not necessary to shout at your audience, you should seek to build to a climax in terms of the strength and volume of your delivery. This will prompt the audience to applaud as the speaker comes on stage. Ending with the name of the speaker is a very common way of doing this, as is starting to applaud after saying the speaker's name.
Your final duty when introducing the speaker is to give him a smooth transition on to the stage. Allowing him to come to the lectern and then shaking hands accomplishes this satisfactorily, but your speaker might have other ideas so it's best to discuss this before you give the introduction.