Don’t let your introduction overshadow the main speaker

By Amy Beth Miller

We analyzed an Andre Agassi speech on American Speaker last month, but when reviewing the YouTube video of the event, we noticed that some people criticized the college student whom Agassi chose to introduce him for his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Simone Ruffin was the valedictorian of the first graduating class of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2009, and it is obvious that she knows how to write and deliver an effective speech.

She wove the theme of “hometown hero” through her remarks, and she did a great job of speaking clearly and emphasizing key points. She made eye contact with the audience throughout her remarks and occasionally turned to directly address Agassi, who was seated behind her.

Unfortunately, her high level of enthusiasm sometimes comes across as giddiness, and her nervous laughter detracts from the power of her remarks. For someone who is still a college student and who otherwise speaks extraordinarily well, those are hardly fatal flaws.

Perhaps that’s one of the problems in this scenario. On the video you can hear an audience member saying to Agassi “Wow, how do you follow that?!”

An introduction should prepare the audience for the main speaker, not detract from it. And Ruffin spoke for about 10 minutes, compared to 20 minutes for Agassi. “Be brief” is always good advice for speakers, but particularly so when you are introducing someone.

Overall though, we’d much rather see a speaker whose enthusiasm is too high than someone who speaks without passion.

Who is the best passionate speaker you have heard?

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