I find myself speaking on stages quite often these days. Prior to taking the stage, I am often introduced by a host of some sort, and the introductions are often quite lovely. Kind words, generous anecdotes, and long lists of accomplishments.
It's great to hear someone speak so highly about you in such a public way, but it can also be a little daunting. It sets a very high bar for my performance and raises expectations considerably.
Sometimes a low bar is a very good thing.
The best introduction I have ever received was for a TED Talk last year. A couple minutes before taking the stage, the emcee asked me how I wanted to be introduced. I said, "How about telling them that I'm one step above an idiot? Let's set a low bar."
I never thought she would listen to me. She had my bio in hand. But as she took the stage to introduce me, she said, "Our next speaker is Matthew Dicks. He describes himself as one step above an idiot."
It was perfect.
As I walked over to that classic TED red circle, the audience was already laughing. I had made them laugh without saying a word.
I had also demonstrated a combination of self deprecation and confidence that I know is appealing to most people.
Best of all, her introduction set a low bar. Rather than the bestselling novelist who has won 28 Moth StorySLAMs and was once named Teacher of the Year, I was just a regular guy trying to do a good job.
My wife and in-laws were in the audience that day, and they questioned my choice of introduction, and rightfully so. When you love someone, you don't love hearing them referred to as "one step above an idiot," and it's probably not an introduction I can get away with again.
But for that one day, I couldn't imagine a better way to take the stage.