Intro to Intros

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You’re required to write an introduction for each piece you perform at a tournament, and while some speechies hastily piece together their intros while sitting outside their rounds, those of us at The Forensics Community know better.

It is crucial that you write your intro. The purpose of giving an intro is to set the mood for your performance, and if you stumble through a series of random thoughts that are clearly being improvised, your audience will notice. Relax! This is supposed to be fun. Think of it as writing the announcer’s lines in a movie preview. You’re giving your audience a couple of hints about the piece, but you don’t want to give everything away at once.

Your intro should be about one minute long. Briefly describe the setting and basic plot of your piece, and try to come up with a play on words or a poetic phrase to end your intro.

Here are a few things that should never be in your intro:

• The words “This piece is about”/ “In this piece.” Stating this is unnecessary. It merely reminds the judge and audience that you’re performing a piece. Trust me, they know.
• Profanity. There’s no need for unsavory language in your intro. Nothing is more off-putting for a judge than hearing a string of obscenities at the start of a piece.
• The ending. If there’s a big twist in your piece, SHUT UP! Don’t tell us about it! You can hint, but never, ever say exactly what happens. This will ruin the surprise – and perhaps your chances of advancing at a tournament.

And a few things that should always be in your intro:

• The name of your piece and its author. This should be the last sentence of your intro, and you should pause for a moment before you say the name of your piece. One way to do this is to say something like "Over time, Shirley realizes there's more to Ben than meets the eye. [Pause.] 'Shirley and Ben,' by Shirley Glockenpfeffer." Alternatively, you can connect these statements: “Shirley realizes there’s more to Ben than meets the eye in – ‘Shirley and Ben,’ by Shirley Glockenpfeffer.”
• A slight change of inflection. If the tone of voice you use when playing your character is at a medium pitch, lower the pitch of your voice slightly during your intro. This shows your audience that you’re no longer saying lines, you’re saying an intro. Careful, though – think professional, not robot.
• The name of your character/characters. Many competitors forget to do this, but it’s always worth the extra second of effort. If your piece has multiple characters, you should at least state the name of the central character you’re playing. Never say “This character,” though. Act like you're talking about an actual person.

Use your introduction to stress one element of your piece that you want your audience to consider throughout the rest of your performance. A great way to do this is with statistics. If your D.I. is about a character whose mother is experiencing Alzheimer’s, you might use your introduction as an opportunity to remind the audience that people all over the country are affected by the disease. Ex: “As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s.” This shows the seriousness of the matter while also proving that you conducted research and put thought into your interpretation of the piece. An intro is your first impression. Make it a good one.

Good job with the description Kelly. It was very clear cut and easy to understand, especially for someone who didn't really pursue the interp events as much. I appreciated the simplicity of the article. You are a very talented writer.

Totally agree. I've said this since high school, but the intro is the time for you to be you. I would hope while you are speaking/performing you have altered your tone to sound nicer than you typically do (I know I do; I usually lower my tone and put on my "warm voice"). But the intro is supposed to be you! Show me your confidence, poise, and enthusiasm.

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