Are you prepared to introduce yourself in a way that builds credibility and trust and engagement? If you are uneasy or uncomfortable introducing yourself, or doing it poorly, your presentation, meeting, or training session can get off to a bad start. Take time to plan and rehearse your openings.
- State your name clearly, maybe more than once.
- If it is unusual, hard to pronounce or remember, provide a memory device or write it on a flipchart.
- Briefly give your credentials, expertise, or experience. You may wish to supply these in a handout so you can move through your introduction faster.
- Mention why you are the person conducting the session. What special skills or experience do you bring? How do you feel about the content?
- Mention the purpose of the training. Often people don’t know or don’t remember why they were asked to attend.
- Stress the WIIFM*. How will participants benefit from participating? Why is this important to them?
- Keep it simple and fairly brief. Once you are into the content you can tell more about your experiences.
- It is OK to use a little humor but don’t force it.
- Make it “all about them” not “all about you.”
- Do something that engages or surprises them (like asking a question, or for a show of hands.)
*What’s in it for me, the listener or learner
Make your openings brief and positive. This is not the place to begin rambling, to provide a long description of your background and expertise. They don’t want to hear an apology or a description of your travel woes unless you are really funny in describing them. Start our crisp and upbeat, getting to the point pretty fast.
Talk about listeners and their concerns more than about yourself. If you speak about them and show them you have something to offer, they will be more impressed than they will just be hearing your credentials. If someone else is introducing you, they can mention your credentials and accomplishments, then you won’t have to. It is smart to bring a short bio for whoever is introducing you to use.
Encourage audience interaction whenever appropriate. Keep it simple, a show of hands in a large audience, a few simple questions, carefully planned, for a smaller group. Plan these questions carefully and be ready for any kind of response–the audience may surprise you.
Never apologize in your opening. Don’t tell them it is too long, the content is technical or boring, that your slides are going to be too busy, or that you are not an expert. Put on your game face and tell them you are so happy to be there and looking forward to sharing information with them.
Rehearse your opening out loud until you know it is cold. Make it short and snappy so it is easy for you to remember. Better yet, rehearse this with a trusted colleague or record your voice and listen back until you have really nailed it.
Work on making the people connection first. Skip all the detailed information, facts, figures, research, and technical jargon. Tell a story. Talk about why your ideas matter. Give them an informal quiz or test. Make them think. Make them feel something. Show them you care and you are going to provide something of value. Now they are ready to hear what you have to say!
Remember that listeners form a first impression in just seconds. Make the most of your openings with thorough planning and rehearsal so you can start off on the right foot with your audience.