Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Being Introduced

Originally posted on February 12, 2011

Picture this scene: You are to be a speaker or presenter at some event  and you may or may not be introduced in a way that does justice to you or the subject you’re speaking about.  This has happened to me innumerable times as I’ve spoken at a wide variety of lectures, workshops, symposia, etc. Alas, more often than not, the person introducing has not asked me what I would like said, or if they did, only in a rather perfunctory way. Each person introducing prefers to give anywhere from four to forty sentences to the task, which may or may not fit what the audience wants to know about me as the presenter. Sometimes, to forestall a misleading introduction, I introduce myself and adapt this to the context.

But if the person introducing you wants some help, here’s a little hint: Give that person not just vague information, but the exact words you’d like to have him or her say. Warm up by imagining, picturing the scene, “hearing” the words being spoken, even the voice tone and pacing that would be ideal.  Often what you’d prefer diverges from what the introducer is likely to say unless you be more specific in your communications with the person introducing.  You might negotiate with the person introducing how long they want to take. They might say stuff you consider irrelevant, regarding some role in your past that you haven’t been involved with in years; or some other interest or activity that again has little to do with the interests of the present audience. Consider writing out exactly what you would like said. Lest this seem immodest, consider the alternatives, which include either giving the person introducing you too little to construct a meaningful introduction; or,  having the intro miss the point in many ways. Communicating what you want to be said involves an optimal level of assertion for various situations.

Often the person introducing will be relieved by your helping this way. If you need a warm-up in writing your introduction, dare to imagine the introducer saying things “wrong,”—distracting, vaguely misleading, playing into common stereotypes or using jargon that you find uncomfortable. Then, playing off of that, run a scene in your mind in which the introducer does a better job, and then re-run the scene so that it comes off even better.  The chances that you will enjoy being introduced if you can work out an agreement in this process will likely increase.

If you have anecdotes about not feeling well-introduced or having trouble in the role of introducer, please comment! Blogs can be interactive more than most other media.

2 Responses to “Being Introduced”

  • David says:

    In the early 90s, I was to present a conference session on the topic of some computer software. I was introduced by the conference host (a big-wig in the industry at the time, and still) as the nephew of one of the owners of the software company! I assume he said this because the owner and I both have semitic ancestry (me Jewish and him Persian), but the comment flustered me. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh at his joke or kick him on his way off stage.

    I’m sure I did not give him any bio up front, as I didn’t think it necessary. But now I agree with you: Warm up your emcee!

  • Are Persians Semites? Their language is Indo-European, not Semitic, despite the alphabet it’s written in.

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