An introduction is the act of making someone known to another person. It is possible to introduce yourself or have someone introduce you to another person or to a group of people. Regardless of the degree of formality, an introduction that is handled properly is a favorable reflection on the person making the introduction.
Before discussing the rules of courtesy in making introductions, some basic questions can be reviewed. Think back for a moment to the last time you were introduced to someone or the last time you had to make an introduction.
- Was there a degree of enthusiasm in the introduction? When two people meet for the first time, enthusiasm and interest should be evident.
- Was the tone of voice sincere? It is so easy to detect an insincere manner—it is like saying, “Here she is. Big deal!” It is almost better not to introduce two people if you cannot be sincere about the introduction.
- Were the names pronounced correctly? Don’t forget that you may ask someone to repeat his/her name several times so that you may pronounce it correctly when making the introduction. Everyone likes to hear the sound of his/her own name—just make sure the sound is right.
- Was the introduction accurate? State the first and last name of the person and give some background information relating to that person.
- Were trite, meaningless phrases used in the introduction? The information that is presented about a person should be specific and informative. Avoid such expressions as, “You’re going to love her” or “He’s such as doll.” These words do not give any specific information about the person and are thus trite and pointless.
In formal introductions, you may use the terms “…. May I introduce…” or …May I present…”
When introducing a stranger to a group, simply introduce the persons in the order in which they are standing or sitting.
If someone introducing you has trouble remembering your name, supply it quickly. Don’t let them flounder.
Avoid awkward moments by giving a cue for further conversation. “Mr. Bass, this is Mr. Carp. Mr. Carp is an avid fisherman too.”
Introduce yourself at a social function by saying: “I am Susie Smith.” The reply will probably be, “And I am Jessica Martin.” If there is no reply, try, “And your name?” or “I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
In a business situation, shake hands. Make your handclasp firm and definite, but neither limp nor crushing.
Pride yourself on remembering names and faces. People are impressed and very pleased when you call them by name.
The basic rule to remember in introductions is that the person you mention first is the one you are honoring. To feel more secure in making introductions, follow these simple rules.
- When introducing members of different gender, a man is presented to a woman: “Mrs. Female, this is Mr. Male,” or “Barbara, this is Tom Winters.” In both cases, the woman’s name is mentioned first. An exception to this rule is usually made in business when a woman employee is presented to an important male executive of the firm. In such a situation, the executive is shown respect by mentioning him first: “Dr. Miller, this is our new administrative assistant, Polly Cooper.”
- When introducing persons of different ages, present the younger to the older person. Because we are honoring the older person, that name is stated first. “Mr. Older, may I introduce Sally Young.”
- When introducing members of the same gender, use age, rank, or degree of distinction as the guiding factor. The person to be honored is to be mentioned first. “Mayor Shaw, may I introduce Mr. Brown.” When two people of the same gender are approximately the same in age, rank, and prominence, either name can be mentioned first.
- When introducing members with various ranks of office, the higher-ranking official is mentioned first. “Mr. Topdog, this is John Underling.”
- When introducing your mother and father, present them to others, so their names are mentioned first. “Mother and Dad, I’d like you to meet my friend, Donna Sherman.” “Dad, this is my instructor, Ms. Rosenglick.” This introduction applies to teachers, neighbors, employers, and all but very distinguished persons. If the last name of one or both of your parents is not the same as your last name, be sure to include it in your introduction.
Introducing a Speaker
You may be called upon to introduce a speaker at a meeting, either professionally or socially. There are a number of specific points to remember in order to introduce speakers effectively.
The purpose in introducing a speaker is to arouse the audience’s interest in the speaker, in the subject, and to encourage the audience to respect the speaker. Everything said
should be dedicated to this purpose. The introduction should be brief—not one that is longer than the speech.
Introducing a Group
Follow these suggestions when introducing a speaker to a group:
- Be brief.
- Talk about the speaker, not about yourself.
- Explain the relationship the speaker has to your organization and the occasion of the meeting.
- Use specific stories and illustrations regarding the speaker and/or the subject.
- Include selected biographical information about the speaker when appropriate.
- Avoid the following phrases: “It gives me great pleasure….” “We have with us tonight…” “A person who…”
- When appropriate, address the chairperson of the meeting, the members of the organization and the guests before beginning the introduction.
- Build the introduction so that the audience is anticipating the speaker’s message.
- Announce the name of the speaker as the last part of the introduction.
- When appropriate, shake hands with the speaker when he/she comes to the podium.
- Be sincere and enthusiastic when making the introduction. Do not overdo the praise. Limit the comments to what can be sincerely said about the speaker.
- Be certain to pronounce the speaker’s name correctly.
- If appropriate, be certain to announce the correct title of the speech.
Here is a brief example of an introduction of a speaker. The occasion for this speech is the annual end-of-the-year SkillsUSA banquet. The speaker is the vice-president of the SkillsUSA chapter who is well known to the majority of the people in attendance.
“Madam President, SkillsUSA members, and guests, tonight our chapter is fortunate to have a speaker who has learned a great deal about SkillsUSA this year. She has been an outstanding officer and a very active member of our chapter. She is going to tell us how SkillsUSA has prepared her to meet the challenge of her new career as an administrative assistant. The speaker for this evening, Ms. Sally Successful, is our SkillsUSA vice- president.”
When introducing a speaker who is not well known to your and/or the audience, contact that person in advance to obtain biographical information about the speaker. Be certain you are familiar enough with the written introduction so that you do not read it word for word from your notes.