When it comes to introductions one of the most awkward moments can come when you are expected to introduce yourself to group. You know, when each person is given a turn to say their name and give a brief tidbit about yourself. I used to hate those moments; I always get flustered and feel like I don’t have anything clever or interesting to say.
I was finally able to crack the nut and master my introduction after developing my public speaking skills. When you are up on stage having a captivating, compelling story is really important to entertain your audience, and the same lessons actually translate really well to group introductions.
When you only have a minute or so to introduce yourself you are limited on what you can say. No one can tell their whole life story in a mere minute. Therefore you are going to have to focus on 1-2 key things.
Crafting your introduction to a group
When you are meeting new people, the first question you tend to be asked is: “So, what do you do?”.
Instead of simply answering with a job title and company name (which can kind of bring a conversation to a dead end), wouldn’t it be great to answer with something that inspires excitement and conversation?
Craft your elevator pitch. I am sure you have heard of businesses putting together a 30 second summary of what makes them special, well have you ever thought of doing the same thing for yourself? If people want to learn more about you after your one sentence introduction, you should be prepared with something concise and thoughtful to follow up.
As you think about your pitch, here are some questions to get you started:
- Who are your main customers or clients?
- Who do I work with, or want to work with?
- What problem do I help them solve? Or what solution do I have to offer?
- What is most interesting or exciting about what I do?
Once you have a handle on your answers, try to practice your pitch. Keep it short, informative, and intriguing. Practice smiling while you say it. Maybe even come up with a couple of options and ask for an opinion from a friend or peer. In fact, if you want to email us your potential elevator pitch, we will gladly tell you what we think about it! Just write us at email@example.com.
Making an impact on new people
Now the trick is to expand your elevator pitch into something that will spark connection, interest, and conversation. You want to entice the group to want more of you (and, really, who wouldn’t?). You’ve grabbed their attention with your pitch — now how can you keep them hooked?
As you think about what you might say here are some things to keep in mind for crafting a great introduction for a group:
Pay attention to the audience. The first part of a successful introduction is to understand who is your audience. What are their backgrounds? What is important to them? What do they want to know about you? And how do you want to appear to them? Smart, intelligent, entertaining? Depending on how you are talking to you may want to craft your intro appropriately.
People love stories. You know you should speak loud and clear, but what do you choose to share? Perhaps it is a bit about your background, or recent challenges. Maybe it is the reason you are here in this room giving your introduction. Think about your intro in the form of a story with a beginning and an ending. Are there places where you can inject a little adventure, drama, or excitement?
Paint a picture. Use descriptive language and describe the setting using your senses. This is a great way to get people engaged. For example, instead of saying “I went into the room” you can paint a picture “I was so nervous and my palms were sweating. I pushed the door open slowly and ….”
By using descriptive language and emotions you get the audience much more interested and involved into your story; just like they were there with you!
Make them laugh. If you are naturally funny starting your introduction with humor can be a fantastic way to make the audience smile and engage with you. But humor is only funny when it is well done, so if you aren’t sure, then it is wise to defer to another technique.
TEASE your opening
This is an acronym used to give you some ideas to help you think about your opening. For example, if you wanted to give an introduction about being less awkward you might try the following TEASE openings:
- Testimonial – “When I did this spark, my group introductions rocked the house…”
- Evidence – “The data shows that people who invest in their careers and personal development are more successful in work and life. And a big part of that is learning to connect with other people…”
- Anecdote – “Last week I was working on my practicing my one-on-one introductions, and it was the first time I walked into a networking event completely confident and ready to shake hands and …”
- Statement – “If you master your interpersonal skills you will be more successful.”
- Example – “Kate used to be super awkward, and even though she still gets nervous, when you meet her she exudes confidence and charisma.”
Putting it into practice
Have you ever heard of extemporaneous speaking? It is a type of content where people have 30 minutes to prepare a 7-minute speech. This type of exercise is great for mastering the art of your introduction and improvisational skills.
This week your homework is our own version of power extemporaneous speaking. And by the end of an hour you will have a new exercise you can use anytime to beef up your “on the fly” speaking skills.
Supplies: You will need a timer (you should have one on your phone!) and this email.
The exercise: You get 5 minutes to prepare a 2-minute intro. Do this for each of the 5 prompts below. As you prep for each you can leverage some of the techniques laid out above. Then actually say your intro out loud.
- Imagine you are introducing yourself to coworkers and you are asked to share details about your past weekend. What did you do?
- You are up on stage presenting your work on a recent project to an audience of your peers. How do you present your work so it is interesting and clear to people less familiar with it?
- Introduce yourself to group of people by sharing a story about a problem you solved, or a solution you discovered. Try to inject some mystery or suspense into your introduction.
- You join a networking group and everyone is asked to share a story about an event, book, or person that made a big impact on them. What do you choose to share? And don’t forget the why.
- Introduce yourself by focusing on one or two things that have helped define who you are. What makes you, you? Try to think through your superpowers and the things that make you truly special.