Heralds/How-to-introduce

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How to create great Introductions

Some preparatory measures:

It's worthwile to write out the introduction in complete (but short) sentences before the talk on small cards. This helps you to articulate complete, logical sentences when you're on stage, where you then can speak more freely. It's also great if you're nervous and suddenly forgot why you're standing on that particular spot. Think of the introduction as if you're advertising a product - would you buy it or just move on if you heard it? In case of doubt, present your introduction to a friend as a test. Research the talk description and its contents to a certain extent - it helps you writing the introduction. Even more important: Learn to pronounce the name of the speaker correctly. Really. Do. This. Always get confirmation from the speaker about this. No exceptions. Also ask about the pronounciation of the name of any Organisation or Company, if relevant for the Talk. You might want to include some biographical information about the Speaker, like projects or organisations he/she worked on in the past, major achievements (hacks, prices / awards) and maybe even his/her occupation. Do your research about this and then ask the Speaker which facts he likes to have included or excluded.

Every year we have between 20-30% of Visitors that have never been on Congress before. Therefore we ask you to avoid wordings like "I dont think I need to introduce Frank Rieger to you, as he is the Host of this Talk every year". Assume your audience doesnt know the Speaker or any Congress Traditions and Rituals.

Please try to memorize your Introduction. You can also write three to five keywords on your moderation card. That way you have a reminder for each of the sentences/paragraphs that you wanted to say, but you are still forced to speak freely from your memory.

Bringing a card with the complete introduction written down in full sentences might lead to you reading the moderation from the card. We want to try to avoid this, so please use this only as a Fallback, and never as the default.

Do not say something that is most likely part of the Talk. You are introducing the Speaker and the Talk, you should not say stuff, that the Speaker most likely will use in his/her Talk. If you plan on making a joke, that seems obvious from Talk-Titel and Description, check with your speaker if he might want to make the same joke.

Structure the introduction in three parts

1. An ear-catcher ("drop a bomb" to make everybody listen). Rhetorical questions ("Have you ever thought of...?", "Are you also tired of...?") seldom work.

2. Guide the audience towards the topic, with additional information on the topic

3. Connection to what's coming up, presentation of the speaker

Example A

A short made-up example, imagining Laura Poitras as the speaker of the next talk. The three points above are indicated in the text: "(1.) Without her, you wouldn't know what Edward Snowden would look like. You probably wouldn't even know that he existed. (2.) It was director Laura Poitras who filmed Edward Snowden and even won an oscar for her documentary "Citizenfour". This evening she will talk about her new project, which she has kept even more secret than her work on "Citizenfour" - even I don't know the details. (3.) And you will be the first to hear - please give a round of applause to Laura Poitras."

Example B

"(1.) Time for an ad: You should buy nail polish. Its glitter looks beautiful on your nails. And it can mend your stockings. (2.) But, more importantly, it can save your laptop. (3.) So, in the upcoming talk, Eric Michaud and Ryan Lackey will tell you how glitter, a couple of bucks and lots of fun will keep your hardware safe. Please welcome them with a round of applause."

Other ways to make a great Introduction

The introduction can take various forms - here are some rough ideas how to structure them. Bear in mind that they are not clear-cut categories:

- Start with a fact that is widely known ("There is no 100 percent waterproof secure system.")

- Start with a panorama that locates the talk within a wider spectrum. "CCTV is our everyday reality show" (in a talk that discusses hacking CCTV cameras). The panorama introduction is similar to one based on a fact, but locates the content more in a wider spectrum.

- Start with a (fictitious) situation: "Imagine you're on holiday and just had too much fun at the hotel bar. And the bartender was nice anyway. And as you can imagine, you're so drunk that you've forgotten your room key in the room itself" (in a talk that discusses hacking hotel doors). Remember to keep this short (2-3 sentences).

- Start with a contrast: "Ten, twenty years ago, you went to your local bank to deposit money. Now, you're doing this from your mobile phone." (in a talk that discusses banking on your mobile phone).

- Start with a quote ("Ada Lovelace said...")