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Introducing The World’s Worst Introducer

A microphone

A dangerous weapon (Image via Wikipedia)

I have realized something about myself. At first, I did not want to face it. I denied it for a long time. How could I, someone who considers himself an experienced public speaker and instructor, be a bad introducer? I can tell myself it isn’t so, but I can’t hide from the truth anymore.

I am supremely bad at introducing people to groups. Even if I’m given a person’s biographical sketch and asked to read it, the result is disastrous.

How Can This Be?

I’m very comfortable teaching classes and speaking to large groups. Back when I was a kid, I hated even standing before my English class to give a report. Now I love presenting to a large group. It doesn’t even occur to me to feel nervous.

In fact, I will go further than just saying I’m not nervous. I have periods of fearlessness. Juggling is a regular part of my classes. I make fun of people in the class and of myself. I assign students nicknames. Once, I sang part of a Britney Spears song in front of  350 people during a presentation at a conference because it seemed like a good idea at the moment…and it worked.

But then comes the moment when someone says “would you introduce the next speaker?”

Yeah, So Here Is, Ummmm…

Something happens when I stand in front of a room full of people and introduce someone. My brain locks. My sense of humor fails me. I forget important details like the person’s name.  As comfortable as I am in front of a crowd, I become instantly as uncomfortable when I have to introduce someone – even someone that I know.

Let’s examine a couple recent examples of how I go off the rails when it comes to introductions. Both these examples involve introducing people I am very familiar with professionally. They are accomplished people in the mental health field and in both cases, I am introducing them before they present a block of instruction to about thirty students.

A cropped and retouched picture, showing a hea...

Ladies and Gentlemen, He's caught in a trap. He can't walk out. Give it up for Mr. Elvis Presley and his review of suicidal ideation! (Image via Wikipedia)

Case Number One: The class gathers after a break and I walk to the front of the room and speak to the instructor briefly. We chat and joke for a moment until I see the class is seated. I ask the gentleman if he is ready, then welcome the class back from break. I’d planned what I was going to say but then something came over me and in my best imitation of the introduction of a Vegas lounge act I roared:

Ladies and Gentleman, direct from the great state of Maryland, Bob Smart! Bob Smart on Suicidal Ideation, give it up for Mr. Bob Smart!

The artist known as Bob Smart looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I gave sort of a shrug and left him to begin his lecture. I was pretty certain whatever I said to restore decorum to this situation was not going to be effective.

I have to stress to you how unplanned this was. People who know me know I am fairly soft-spoken. It is completely out of character for me to roar out anything, but especially something like an instruction to “give it up” for anyone. This was unprecedented and has never happened since.

Case Number Two: This occurred in the same setting, during a different class session. The speaker was a woman who is very highly educated – she is a nurse, holds multiple graduate degrees as well as counseling certifications. She is also the boss of a good friend and colleague of mine who had introduced her to every class up until the fateful day that I was asked to handle that duty.

I again addressed the class, welcomed them back and began my introduction. Things started out very well:

Our next topic is the problem of addiction. Your presenter is Bonnie Peel. Bonnie is one of the driving forces behind us getting our program started here in the county and I always like to thank her for that, she has really made a difference.

An old Mc Donald's, which is completely different and off topic (image via answers.com)

It was a darn good start considering it was me doing the introduction. In fact, I’d even say that would be a darn fine introduction as it was, if I’d left it alone. Of course, I did not leave it alone.

The first slide of her presentation was on the screen. It had the title of her talk, her name and the abbreviation for all her her hard earned academic honors : BS, RN, MS, MA, etc. There were about three more degrees and certification abbreviations there. A voice in my head said, “say something about all the letters after her name.” So, I did:

Bonnie Peel, EIEIO

Yes, I did. Yes, like Old McDonald the nursery rhyme. Bonnie didn’t think it was funny. In retrospect, I don’t think it was either, especially since she is my friend’s boss.

The Solution

I am getting out of the introduction business. While I love teaching and speaking, I will never again do an introduction that involves anything more complex than introducing two friends of mine to one another.

No more Vegas. No Old MacDonald. I am so calm and cool. So prepared. Then someone says “would you introduce…?”

No.

 

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52 Comments on “Introducing The World’s Worst Introducer”

  1. I love the EIEIO bit. Maybe it’s just because I was reading about it and because I’m not Bonnie.

  2. Todd says:

    You could go with, “And, now, someone who needs no introduction,” and then sit down. If the person feels slighted, he or she can introduce themselves.

  3. anne says:

    I’m having a problem. I read your blog at work. It makes me laugh out loud. Everyone knows that my actual work is not that funny…. which leaves me with some explaining to do.

  4. Lenore Diane says:

    No. Really. No. You didn’t say “Bonnie Peel, EIEIO”, did you? Wow.
    Don’t be so hard on yourself, Oma. Clearly, you are a fantastic introducer, provided the person is part of a circus, comedy act or band. You’d be da’ bomb!
    Just avoid the scholastic introductions.

  5. k8edid says:

    As a nurse with lots of letters after her name, I would probably not find your introduction terribly amusing. However, I am not without a sense of humor, I always tell people that they can decide for themselves, after my presentation, what the BS stands for.

  6. planetross says:

    You should definitely not get a second job at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

    note: I’m not good at speaking in front of large groups … unless they can’t understand what I’m saying … then it’s okay. (a normal occurence in my current surroundings)

  7. Katybeth says:

    EIEIO–I would have laughed. Hard. Of-course nurses are hero’s…Humor can indicate that you think highly of enough of a person to know they are secure enough not to take themselves too seriously and fast enough to make a come back if they do not sink to being offended. Both nurses in my family (one with her PH’d in nursing) laughed out loud when I read them this for a reality check. One said the speaker “highly educated nurse” needs to add LOL to her credientials.

    • omawarisan says:

      And Bonnie is typically a lot of fun. I think because it was so out of the blue it just knocked her sideways a bit. We’re good now, but I never introduce her anymore

  8. Spectra says:

    I especially like the cheerful, Peppy way you introduced Bob Smart and his depressing lecture on Suicidal Ideation! That was pure genius! Why not rock things up a notch? Suicide. Must it always be such a downer? If you ask me, Bob Smart needed a happy little kick-start that day! He should be sending you thank you notes. And referralls. Maybe a six pack.

    • omawarisan says:

      Bob just moved and I took over doing his presentation last week. I agree, he should be sending me beer. Mostly because I’d just like him to do so. It would be a nice gesture.

      • Spectra says:

        Oh, my! Was your introduction so bad that he quit his job?

        “You think you can do a better job, eh, Oma? DO YOU!!! Fine! Then you teach this class on Suicidal Ideation! Ha! You think this is fun for me?!”

        “- and furthermore, you can forget the six pack. I don’t drink with hecklers.”

        • omawarisan says:

          I snapped him like a twig with that introduction. I was all in his head and he couldn’t get me out, so he moved to Maryland.

          He forgot that’s where I grew up. There is no escape.

  9. Wendi says:

    So Oma, how can I get into one of your presentations?

  10. Kim Pugliano says:

    Do you have video of the Britney Spears performance? I don’t understand why nobody has brought up that part. I mean EIEIO is funny, but a Britney Spears performance?

    Awesome.

    • omawarisan says:

      No video, sorry. It worked pretty well. Good crowd reaction and I got invited to do two more conferences with that presentation – which was a damn funny presentation about a sad situation.

  11. Laura says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had to introduce the next speaker, but I’ve had a similar nightmare scenario play out a couple times: I’m giving a talk, and I need to mention someone else who’s contributed to the work that I’ve been talking about — someone who may well be right there in the audience — and I suddenly realize I have no idea how to pronounce their last name.

  12. omawarisan says:

    Oooh no! It’s never a name like Dot Smith is it?

    • Laura says:

      No, never. What’s worse is that it’s usually someone I’ve been in contact with for months. I’ll have seen their last name in email many times, but any time we’ve been in contact in person or over the phone, we’ve used first names.

      If I figure it out in advance, I’ll usually resort to calling their office number when I know they won’t be around, just to listen to their voicemail greeting.

  13. pattypunker says:

    i love when i get emails with all of these credentials in the person’s name. none of which mean anything to me. now instead of thinking, what a pompous ass, i’ll just think EIEIO. you saved me, oma. now if you could just come coach me on speaking in front of a group and giving presentations. i have major social anxiety disorder when it comes to that. gah.

    • omawarisan says:

      I’ll pack my whistle and we’ll start workouts right away. Feel free to doodle EIEIO next to the names of all the pompous asses on any meeting agenda.

      The Jolie is closing in on you. Shoot me an email?

  14. Re: Mrs. Peel, I’d say you let her off lightly. You could have done an Avengers theme: “Mrs. Peel, you’re needed.” Or asked her where her jumpsuit was.

    When a person insists on making a big deal out of the letters after their name I’m inclined to add BFD at the end.

  15. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    EIEIO – Hilarious! People take themselves (and their Initials) waaaaay too seriously. I listen to Commonwealth Club on the radio and the host always does an introduction for the speaker that lasts far, far too long. He goes on and on about the credentials and the papers and the job titles and – well – let’s just go ahead and tell everyone what the person had for lunch while we’re at it. I’d prefer, “Heeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrre’s [fill in the name]!!!”

    • omawarisan says:

      EIEIO is getting quite a reaction. Maybe it should be standard shorthand for someone with an alphabet after their name.

      I’m going to send an audition tape to Commonwealth Club to handle their introductions.

  16. Betty says:

    Priceless. I’ll leave it at that.

    • omawarisan says:

      Thank you.

      Oh wait , that would be a good introduction!

      Ladies and gentlemen, our next speaker is Buck Darnell. This one’s priceless. I’ll leave it at that….and then walk off.

  17. KathiD says:

    That’s pretty much how Oprah introduces people, and she has done OK with it.

  18. EIEIOMG!!!! I make my family listen to me read your posts out loud to them so they understand why I’ve been laughing to myself in the corner with my laptop. It’s that or they have the men in the white coats come suit me up in a blue suede straight jacket.

  19. Amy says:

    I cringed when i read “EIEIO.” Seriously, I almost couldn’t continue reading. At least you know your weakness and don’t think you are totally awesome at introductions and insist on giving them all the time much to the chagrin of your co-workers.

  20. linlah says:

    I like to think that people with lots of letters after thier names would never find EIEIO funny.

  21. We found him Captain!! says:

    Hey! I say,

    Have we ever been introduced?
    EIEIO is good……..

  22. I swear this is true — I did the EIEIO thing once. I hope Bob Smart said, “Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.”

    • omawarisan says:

      Do it again. What do you have to lose, besides income?

      Wait…you read the caption? I was so happy with “He’s caught in a trap, he can’t walk out…”. If you read the caption, 1/2 off on next year’s subscription.

  23. […] Introducing The World’s Worst Introducer (blurts.wordpress.com) […]

  24. Carmon Thomas says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! I would have laughed out loud. Even if I was the only one. I like your succinct, you really don’t want that. 😀

  25. […] I will pat myself on the back for being an effective instructor, I’ve had to admit to myself that I give awful introductions. When it has fallen to me to introduce new instructors to our classes, I’ve failed miserably. […]


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