We’re all familiar with the classic adage, ‘it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression’. Still, when it comes to self-introductions, there are real deal breakers that can affect professional perceptions of you.
Whether in a boardroom setting before a conference presentation or online, self-introductions are an important factor for how seriously you’re taken, how your authority is valued and how you build relationships with others.
So how do you summarise everything that’s amazing about you in just a few minutes or keystrokes? Our masterclass on self-introductions reveals the best ways to celebrate yourself in almost every professional encounter you can think of.
The importance of self-introductions
“Good morning, my name is Richard.
I head up the company’s sales division.
Last year we exceeded our annual targets by 22%.
I enjoy sales because…..”
And just like that, everyone in the room switches off.
Let’s face it, few professionals enjoy giving self-introductions. Not only do they shine the spotlight on you, but self-introductions force you to be introspective and consider (often on the fly!) what on earth to say about yourself. The discomfort can be magnified if you’re prone to nerves or aren’t a confident speaker.
The pressure is on.
In just a few moments, you can either captivate your audience or simply be forgettable, and this can set you up for success or failure.
Self-introductions are a way to establish trust between new contacts and clients and to make yourself likeable and credible. A strong self-introduction will celebrate your skills and unique qualities and make you memorable. On the other hand, a weak self-introduction may cast doubt over your abilities.
The art of an extraordinary self-introduction lies in your ability to connect with your audience. Fundamentally it should communicate the basics: your name, your profession, your skills, and your achievements. But to elevate it to the next level, a great self-introduction needs to go beyond these.
The nuances lie in who your audience is and what the communication medium is -whether in person or digitally. If you’re a senior leader or top-tier management, you’ll likely make plenty of self-introductions.
Considering some of these tips may help you reach elevator pitch perfection -
When you want to build meaningful connections, go beyond the basics
CEO of Amplify Labs and introduction expert Joanna Bloor advises that to make meaningful connections, self-introductions should express what you’re passionate about, what problems you have a talent for solving and so forth.
For instance, if you’re at a networking event or opportunity, rather than saying:
“I am a digital marketing manager,”
“I love helping brands tell imaginative stories as a marketing manager,”
That way, you’ll add a more valuable layer of information about yourself, what you care about and how you could be helpful to those you are meeting. This may also mean your new contact is more inclined to mention opportunities or ideas that will benefit you.
Keep it brief and to the point in a boardroom setting
So, you’ve scored a new client pitch or stakeholder investment opportunity. The onus is on you to sell the company through yourself in this formal setting. You’ll likely be addressing an unfamiliar audience that wants to be wowed by your brilliance in as little time as possible.
The key focus here will be your role in the company, what you bring to it, what successes you’ve achieved with it and what you will bring to your potential partnership.
Keep it brief and to fundamental points, try not to overwhelm your audience with too many figures and statistics. Now isn’t the time for offbeat jokes or leftfield tangents.
Share personal stories and insights when introducing yourself to your new team
Introductions are crucial, not just when networking with strangers you may have never met before, but also if you’re starting a new job as a team leader or manager and meeting your new team members for the first time.
Building rapport and trust are paramount. The end goal is to build a healthy, dynamic relationship with each team member. Start by talking about your immediate background – the role you have just come from and your experiences there.
Be warm and open, don’t be afraid to inject a little humour and humility. Outline your vision for your department and your expectations for your team, but in a friendly (not authoritarian manner). Avoid going into complex strategies – this is just an introduction.
To make it clear that you value everyone’s voices, allow your new team to ask any questions they may have about you or your intentions at the end of your introduction.
When in doubt, use all tenses
Executive communication coach and founder of Talk About Talk, Andrea Wojnicki, recommends a failsafe method for self-introduction which utilises all tenses. Using a framework of present, past, and future, you will offer all the necessary information to make your desired impact. For instance:
Present: start by introducing your name, current role and responsibilities.
Past: mention your background, achievements, past employers and credentials.
Future: close with your goals, aspirations and what you’re looking forward to.
Be concise with email self-introductions
Whether cold pitching to a potential stakeholder, greeting a new client or reaching out to other members of your company, the secret to a perfect email self-introduction is its conciseness.
Business in-boxes are always overloaded, so to grab attention, write a short, effective subject line directly tailored to the email recipient. Then, open the email with a polite greeting, but rather than it being about you, make it about them. For instance:
“I noticed that you oversaw the acquisition of x…”
Then make your self-introduction as brief and to the point as you can. Give your name, job title, and why you’re reaching out—no more than that.
To improve your chances of a response, the trick is not to bombard the recipient with details about you, moreover, provide a stimulating call to action that prompts them to engage with your email and get back to you.
Sign off your email with a polite thank you, adding any necessary attachments.
Don’t forget your body language and clothing
What you’re saying in your self-introduction is only part of the story. The rest is about how you look, so consider your clothing and body language. Terrified? Try not to endlessly tap your foot or fiddle with your pen. Need to command authority? Stand up tall and look your audience in the eye. Even if you’re dying inside, smile, keep an open posture and use positive hand gestures.
Pick your clothing to suit the occasion. Formal networking events, major presentations and senior business meetings require professional attire. On the other hand, self-introductions conducted over Zoom meetings can be less formal.
When the heat is on…rehearse
If you have a major conference address, job interview or the pressure of clinching a seven-figure contract, your self-introduction needs to count. If you feel you’d get nervous, prepare what you want to say and practice verbally until you feel confident enough that it’s memorised.
Practice in front of the mirror, a loved one or record it on your phone. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be.
As for how to self-introduce, you’re talking about yourself, so it should feel relaxed and not too stuffy, but don’t risk overloading jokes or anecdotes in case they fall flat. Have notes or cue cards on hand if you need them. Then once you’ve practised your self-introduction to perfection, you’ll be ready to knock ‘em dead.
1 Self-introductions can set you up for success or failure. They’re a way to establish trust between new contacts and clients, to make yourself likeable and credible.
2 At networking events, go beyond the basics of name and job title. Instead, add what inspires and interests you to make a more meaningful impact.
3 In a corporate boardroom setting with an unfamiliar audience, keep self-introductions succinct, focussing only on key points and statistics.
4 When introducing yourself to a new team you’re managing, be warm and not afraid to share personal stories. Outline your vision but not in depth.
5 Pay attention to your body language and clothing when introducing yourself, especially in scenarios with an unfamiliar audience.
6 Keep email self-introductions concise and tailored to the recipient. Add a call to action to prompt them to reply.
7 Use the present, past, and future framework as a failsafe self-introduction method.
8 If you have a formal conference address, practice and rehearse beforehand.
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