Do Speakers Need Introductory Slides?

I saw a comment on Linkedin that questioned a speaker’s need to have introductory slides when kicking off a presentation. A speaker that I know and respect greatly stated that introductory slides are pointless; people know who you are and why you are there and they are unnecessary and a waste of time. Do you agree?

My opinion differs greatly from my fellow speaker and friend, possibly because I am one who utilizes introductory slides. My initial thought is who actually reads through the speaker background prior to a training/speaker session? I know a have certain attendees that attend my courses because they enjoy my presentation style. On the other hand, I think many attendees sign up based on subject matter and if it is a speaker they know and like, even better.

Based on that assumption, I find that introductory slides are necessary but maybe not for the reason that you think. Yes they are to help establish creditability. On the other hand, creditability, in many respects, is inherent in being up on the stage. I believe the introductory slides are to set the mood or tone for the day. I tend to take a very light-hearted approach to most if not all subject matters. I use the intro slides to talk about myself but definitely outline my background with some self-deprecating humor. I also like to be flexible with the subject matter at hand and begin dialogue with attendees on what they are looking to learn from the class. It does serve that main purpose but also gets everyone in the class talking and more importantly, comfortable with a high level of interaction.

Now, here is where introductory slides tend to go awry: when speakers use them as a straight sales pitch. That is when a speaker can lose attendees in the first five minutes of the day.

In summary, speakers should use introductory slides for the following purposes:

  • Establish creditability (to a small extent)
  • Establish the mood for the class
  • Gain the attendees’ comfort and get them to relax
  • Force interaction by attendees

What are your thoughts? Yay or Nay on Speaker introductory slides?

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