Setting the stage: Writing a great introduction for your (WordCamp) speech

Would you hastily leave the house in the morning without your left shoe, thinking your shiny right patent leather shoe will suffice? A well-written introduction sets the stage for your success and the hook your audience’s attention. Here are tips on writing an introduction to your speech, if you can’t access the services of the talented Bridget Willard.

Jump right in?

Any speech worth its salt has a great intro. Without it, there is no transition from your host and the start of your presentation. An introduction provides a starting pistol setting a tangible marker for all involved that something is starting.

T-minus thirty…

As the host grabs the microphone the countdown starts until you will be onstage. Keep your introduction to 4-6 sentences noting that your host has to read it aloud and expect the introduction to take between 15-30 seconds, and for longer speeches up to one minute.

Most importantly, an introduction gets you and the audience into the correct frame of mind by giving a glimpse into your topic and teases what you’ll be talking about.

Recipe for a good intro

A great introduction should position you as an expert on the WordPress topic you are presenting and the intro must include:

  • Your full name, job title, and company;
  • Speech topic and your background on the topic. For example, if you specialize in search engine optimization the intro should mention your client solutions provided with analytics, years experience, etc; and
  • Emphasize the speech title 

Sample WordCamp Speech Introduction

Five years ago while walking through the break room at WordCamp Los Angeles, Organizer Alex Vasquez handed him a microphone and asked him to talk about himself and his connection to WordPress. Afterward, Alex stated, “You should do a WordCamp speech someday.” That someday is today as Joe Simpson presents “90 Days to Live: Finding Your Place in the WordPress Community.”

Hostest with the mostest

Be sure to seek out your host that will do the introduction. Often, volunteers have multiple tasks throughout the day to find out who is working your session to personally hand them or text your introduction. For my WordCamp Orange County speech, I sent it in early — after I received notice of acceptance to present. Finally, ask your host if they have any questions to reach out before time. Unique phonetic pronunciations of names or project information can result in mistakes.

Posted by Joe A. Simpson, Jr.

Front-end web developer/web designer at LACMTA (Metro Los Angeles). Manages Metro's WordPress Network of blogs including the Source, Metro Developer and Metro Primary Resources. Avid WordCamper and budding theme/plug- in wrangler.

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