You Receive a Poor Introduction…

On more than one occasion I have been introduced as a professor at the University of Kentucky instead of Northern Kentucky University. What do I do about that inaccurate information when I get up to speak? 

Perhaps an introducer has mispronounced your name (Steve Boyd is hard to mispronounce!) or the city where you are from (Nagadoches, Texas, for example). These errors put the speaker in a difficult position because your opening remarks have a lot to do with your success for the rest of your speech.

The best policy is to ignore the bad or inaccurate introduction and move quickly into your material. If inaccurate information has been presented, make the correction in the content of your material. For example, I might say, “In my 39 years at Northern Kentucky University, I have found.…”

If your name is mispronounced, you could mention your name in connection with a point later in your presentation. For example, at a writer’s conference I attended last week, an author said, “A reader asked me, ‘Ms. Macias, what happens when…?’” Then the audience knew to pronounce her name “muh-SIGH-us,” and not what the introducer had said.

In any of the above situations, here are a few principles that apply no matter what the problem is.

Never make a member of your audience look bad. Don’t insult or point out the mistakes of someone in the audience, including your introducer. Even if it is deserved, you will lose some of your rapport with the audience.           

Don’t panic. When something goes wrong in the introduction, or in any other part of your presentation, take a moment before you take action. Just pausing will sometimes calm you and give you time to use good judgment on what action to take.

Learn from your mishaps. Analyze a presentation problem and ask yourself how you might handle it differently next time. Keep track of what you did well in handling that last problem area and remind yourself to do it again next time. (Fortunately or unfortunately, there’s always a next time!)

Introduce yourself to the introducer prior to the beginning of the program. Get to know him or her. If nothing else, getting to know you will often prompt more warmth in the voice when you are introduced. When you tell your name and what you do, you are reminding the person of correct pronunciation and verifying key biographical information.

I assure you that you will receive an occasional bad introduction, but these tips will help you minimize damage.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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