It’s a common tactic for presenters who want to appear more interactive, give their audiences a chance to warm up, and kill a bunch of time.  The personal introductions.  But they rarely work, and never work in large groups.  A group of 50 tonite spent an hour (of a two-hour program) going through each member giving a (brief) introduction.  By the end, I think everyone was tired of them.Here’s why round-robin introductions don’t work.

  1. If an audience member has yet to go, they are more intent on thinking about what they are going to say than listening to the people doing the introduction (regardless of the selection method — sequential, random, popcorn).  In addition, anxiety increases as time goes on for those who have yet to speak.  This means that the only one interested in what the current speaker is saying is the one speaking and (perhaps) the presenter, who could get that information in other, more interactive and interesting ways.
  2. If an audience member has already gone, they lose interest quickly, are thinking about what they should have said, and often take a mental exit.
  3. If something does strike a cord and is actually heard/listened to, then the audience member tends to take that rabbit trail and think only of that, missing anything coming after that.
  4. Since people ostensibly came to hear the presenter, taking up valuable time listening to content by non-experts lessens the perceived value of the program (it may, in fact, be very valuable, but not perceived so)
  5. Used as the opener/icebreaker, they do not give the audience member much hope/reason to continue, making it more difficult to attract and maintain their attention for the “main event”.

Some ideas on how to make introductions more interactive (there are many more — be creative!):

  1. Have audience members introduce each other.
  2. Just select some members, and have other members repackage what they say.
  3. Have folks grouped or divided by some common trait (that matters to the content at hand).
  4. Drive your content from people’s introductions, so they are interspersed with what the people came to hear.
  5. Have something zany in the introductions (I’m not a fan of the “if you were a vegetable, what kind of vegetable would you be?“, but that’s on the right track) and/or don’t make the same intro question get applied to more than one person (thus avoiding problem #1 above).

Regardless of how you choose to interact, do interact.  But make it valuable to the listener (remember Rule #1).

Find a method other than having complete introductions by every member of an audience.

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