In a reprint of an article he wrote while has was a speechwriter for GM in the 80s, Alan Perlman discusses one of those “troublesome ceremonial speeches”—the introduction
“Ceremonial speeches”—introductions, dedications, thank-you speeches—may be the most troublesome speeches to write. Their goals are unclear, and the audience may not even care what the speaker has to say unless it has sufficient interest and impact.
Alan Perlman shared the following advice for writing introductions.
Research and preparation
The first step in researching an introduction is “to gather a respectable amount of information on the speaker, on his or her personality and accomplishments, by whatever means you can,” Perlman said. “Talk to people who know the speaker. Very often you can ask, What kind of person is he? and you’ll get a couple of personal anecdotes or nuggets that you can use.” Perlman also suggested looking at Business Week’s annual issue on CEOs, and the company’s latest financial report: “Check out the letter to the shareholders to see what this person’s perspective on the business is.”