Monday, November 21, 2005

Introducing a Speaker

When a scientist visits another university to give a seminar, someone gets assigned as host who during the talk introduces the speaker, makes sure the talk doesn't go too long and the post-talk questions don't get out of hand.

So how do you introduce a speaker? I've seen everything from "Let's start" to a reading of the speaker's CV. A few memorable ones (names have been changed):

  • Jane Smith needs no introduction so I'll introduce myself instead…
  • Last week we had a terrible talk on ABC, today we will learn whether it was the speaker or the area.
  • John Doe is famous for proving the XYZ theorem. Today he will talk about something far less interesting.
Often the host gets much more anxious about the introduction than the speaker does about the talk. The host worries the speaker will get insulted if given the wrong introduction. Just find a couple of nice things to say and you'll be fine.

Don't ask the speaker how he would like to be introduced, as it puts the speaker in an awkward position. Last time my host asked me, I suggested he introduce me as "The person who put the 'W' in AWPP," but he didn't bite.


  1. Isn't the joke better if you were the "guy to put the W in WPP"? (Somehow "almost" waters it down.)

  2. Another memorable one: "The speaker deserves no introduction"

  3. It's funny how much difference a single word makes - compare "The speaker deserves no introduction" with "The speaker requires no introduction"