Who wins in the name game shares some insights that moderators might want to keep in mind, particularly about pronouncing your panel speakers' names correctly and fluently. From the article:
[T]he ability to pronounce someone’s name is directly related to how close you feel to that person. Our brains tend to believe that if something is difficult to understand, it must also be high-risk.So practicing pronunciation--with guidance from the person being introduced--is not wasted time. It will connect the audience to the speaker, and make easy that early moment when we don't know enough about her.
For truly complex names, try actor Brad Pitt's method of making the foreign familiar to an audience. He introduced actor David Oyelowo, whose name is difficult for some to pronounce, using a sing-song method and audience participation, at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Notice that he begins by breaking down the syllables backwards, and uses the singing to pronounce it starting at the beginning. As for Oyelowo? He said, "You know you've broken through after Brad Pitt sings your name." If you want to emulate this approach, do coordinate in advance with the speaker in question. Here's the video:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Dean Shareski)
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