You only have one chance to make a great first impression, and you need to know how to introduce yourself in a speech or presentation! Having an outstanding introduction will help you break the ice and generate interest in your audience.
Follow these 10 guidelines to make your next presentation or speech a success.
1. Conduct mock rehearsals with colleagues and friends.
Give your presentation or speech to an unbiased friend or colleague. After is over, ask them to write down 2-3 facts from your introduction. Look over your feedback and determine if your key points stand out within the first 30-60 seconds of your presentation. Was it easy for another person to recall everything you touched on? If not, how can you make your introduction more straightforward and memorable?
2. Listen to how a friend or colleague would introduce you and take notes.
If you're struggling to figure out how to introduce yourself, ask an unbiased friend or colleague to tell you how they would introduce you. Listen to the positive qualities, accomplishments, and stories your friend or colleague has to say about you and see how you can incorporate their comments into your introduction.
3. Enlist someone else to introduce you.
If you have a serious case of stage fright, your conference organizer may be able to find someone else to introduce you. Plan ahead and ask several weeks in advance for their assistance. Work closely with the individual who is introducing you to ensure your introduction has a personalized touch. Look over the final copy before your presentation to confirm everything about your background is accurate.
4. Keep it short and sweet.
Remember: your introduction shouldn't be your life story or read like an autobiography! The best way to introduce yourself is to keep it short and succinct. Introductions that ramble on without a definitive focus will leave your audience restless and uninterested. Listing every accomplishment, client, and credential under your belt sounds dry, and no one likes humble bragging. Make a list of your accomplishments and choose only the several that you're most proud of to include in your intro. Outdated accomplishments and client connections, no matter how impressive, should be excluded.
“Remember: your introduction shouldn’t be your life story or read like an autobiography!
5. Get small audiences actively involved.
Entering a presentation and seeing a tired or uninterested audience can be anxiety inducing. This can be especially problematic in small or informal settings, where this technique works best. A quick way to get your audience awake and invested in your presentation is to introduce yourself and then prompt audience members to introduce themselves and state a question, concern, or idea related to your presentation topic. For example: if you're delivering a presentation about customer service software, ask your audience members to introduce themselves with their name, a fun fact, and a situation where they've had a particularly amazing (or terrible) customer service experience. This brings clarity and focus to your presentation topic.
6. Include only relevant details in your introduction.
The planning process is key as you determine how to introduce yourself. Printing out a graphic organizer is a simple yet efficient way to determine if your introduction is on point. Successful introductions are unique, thought provoking, and easy to adapt to different types of presentations. Using a graphic organizer, like a writing web, write the title and description of the presentation you're giving in the center circle; then, use the smaller circles to list personal details and accomplishments relevant only to your presentation topic. For example: even if you work with an important company, if that company's work isn't relevant to your presentation topic, exclude it. Then, brainstorm how you can transform your planner into engaging points.
7. Add additional details and credentials in your handouts.
Accomplishments and credentials that are important to you but may bog down your introduction don't have to be thrown away. Make a basic handout about your presentation that features your name, photograph, contact information and any additional details you want to share with your clients or conference members.
8. Use an interesting hook or humor at the beginning of your presentation.
As you plan out how to introduce yourself, think of a few compelling hooks you can use to get your audience's attention. Humor is one of the easiest ways you can relate to your audience; so is admitting a recent challenge you've faced (that's somehow relevant to your presentation) and discussing how you've grown from it. If you decide using humor is the best way to introduce yourself, avoid taking aim at important conference members or using politically incorrect jokes. Joking around about yourself is a safe way to make people laugh.
9. Organize a smooth transition.
Even if you have a fantastic introduction, your presentation will quickly fall apart if you don't have a transition. Determine how you can create a bridge between your intro and presentation content. Ending your introduction with a nod to one of your favorite clients and a project or conversation relevant to your topic is a good way to create a bridge between your introduction and main content. For example: "[Renowned client] is one of my best clients. Just last week, we were discussing how…[lead into presentation content]."
10. If you make a mistake, keep going!
As you introduce yourself, it's important not to freeze up if you accidentally mispronounce a word, stutter, momentarily forget your lines or feel anxious. If you're suddenly struck with stage fright, take two seconds to inconspicuously take a breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Monitor your breathing and keep your worries in check. While you may feel completely self-conscious about what everyone at your presentation thinks of the way you look and speak, just remember that everyone attending is more interested in the valuable information you have to share rather than how you look sharing it. No one expects you to deliver your presentation, especially your introduction, with total perfection.
Learning how to introduce yourself in a professional, fun and engaging way may seem complex, but it's easier than you think. Self-doubt is one of the biggest roadblocks to successfully delivering an introduction! Believing in yourself will help you radiate confidence and convince your conference members that you're self-assured and know exactly what you're talking about.
CEO at Slidebean/FounderHub. TEDx Speaker. 500 Startups Alum. 40-under-40.