Introductory speeches may not be the main event, but they are key for getting an audience acquainted with their main speaker.
Define an introduction speech
Introduction speeches are usually brief and always prepared in advance.
If you know the person you're introducing, it certainly makes it easier to prepare your remarks. However, be mindful of the context of your relationship to the speaker, and the context of the event itself. For example, avoid an overly casual tone when speaking at a formal event.
If you don't know the speaker, conduct some research to get a basic understanding of who they are, as well as any relevant work that applies to their keynote. To help you prepare, consider contacting the speaker in advance to request their professional biography or their curriculum vitae (CV).
A detailed written account of one's education and experience used to seek positions in academic or educational environments, typically including academic credentials, publications, courses taught, etc.
Sometimes you may be asked to speak at an event or occasion before the headlining speech, or be called upon to introduce a keynote speaker or panelist.
The introduction speech is no less significant than the keynote. It's important because you're getting your audience warmed up and accustomed to who will be speaking about the topics and issues they care about. Just as we appreciate when friends introduce us to new acquaintances, your audience appreciates being introduced to their main speaker.
There may be times when you know the person that you're introducing, so it might be easier to talk about them. Just be mindful of the context of both your relationship and the event itself. You might be buddies with a leading scientist in biology at a biology conference, but that doesn't mean you should introduce him by the nicknames you call each other on Facebook.
Knowing the person you need to introduce is also helpful as you can ask them directly what information they would or would not like shared about them.
There will also be times where you may only have passing knowledge about the person you're introducing, or perhaps you might not know anything about them at all. But in the age of the Internet and the Google search, it shouldn't take very long to find out some basic information about them that is relevant to their speech, such as their professional experience or publications.
You may also be able to contact them to see if they can provide you with a professional bio or curriculum vitae (CV). In the latter instance, you may want to distill that into your own prepared remarks.
The good news is that speeches of introduction are usually brief and always prepared. Whether you're reading from a script or teleprompter, you typically won't be asked to introduce someone you don't know without preparation.