An Introduction is not an Opening

audienceOver the past few weeks I’ve noticed something interesting. A lot of people get confused about the difference between an introduction and an opening. They couldn’t be more different, but people mix up the words. So let me set you straight.

An introduction is what the host does before the speaker gets up on stage. It is how the speaker is introduced to the audience. The speaker never gives their own introduction, however he or she may have written it and provided it to the host.

An opening is the beginning of a speech or presentation. This is how the speaker introduces the audience to the topic. It is the lede, the hook, the attention-getter.

As you can see, different people present these two parts of an overall presentation. The easiest way to tell these apart is to understand that an introduction is NOT part of the speech. It exists outside of the presentation itself. An opening IS part of the speech. You can’t have an effective presentation without one.

Now, you may be asking, this seems pretty clear, how do you know that people are confused? Two instances in particular come to mind:

A couple of weeks ago I gave an education presentation on “Creating an Introduction.” The entire presentation was about what should be in it and who should be presenting it. It was very clear that this was not how to open a speech … however my evaluator kept making comments like he thought I was talking about the opening. He even said something to the effect of “I can’t wait until you talk about the body and the close!”

And then again, last night, I did another presentation where I was required to include in the introduction the purpose of the presentation. I provided the Toastmaster with the introduction and the second sentence of the introduction clearly stated the purpose of my presentation. When I read my evaluation, the first question for the evaluator was “How effective was the speaker’s introduction in helping the audience understand the purpose of The Leadership Excellence Series and the presentation itself?” My evaluator’s response was “Not given.” And I wondered if she was listening to my introduction at all.

About Carma

Carma Spence, author of Public Speaking Super Powers, is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in marketing, public relations and science communication. She is a multi-dimensional entrepreneur, a certified life coach, science fiction writer and poet. She is able to see people's brilliance and help them bring their genius to light. The wind beneath her clients’ wings, Carma provides creative entrepreneurs with expert advice on branding and online presence, as well as the emotional support necessary to carve out their niche for success online. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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