At some point in your professional career you are going to have to stand up in front of a group of people and introduce yourself. It might be at a formal networking event where everyone is going around the room and giving their “elevator speech”, or maybe it’s a professional conference where you are each introducing yourself during a seminar or a break-out session.
Whatever the scenario, you are going to be standing in a room of strangers, telling them who you are. And like it or not, they are going to make judgments about you based on how you introduce yourself. They are going to decide how competent and skilled you are in your profession based on how well you present yourself. It might not be fair, but there it is.
Because of this, most of us freak out and try to script the best possible introduction, so we say the right things. But it’s way more important to say things the right way. If it’s true that “it’s not what you say but how you say it that’s important” (and it is), then the time that you spend working on your delivery is way more important then the words you choose. Here are three places to start:
1. Make sure everyone can see your face! When you are sitting in the middle of a room, there’s a good chance that when you just stand up from where you are sitting, your backside is going to be facing some of your audience. No matter how many lunges you’ve been doing at the gym lately, that’s not good. The fix is easy: when it’s your turn, simply stand up and walk to the edge of the room and turn so everyone can see you. They’ll be able to hear you better and your facial expressions are an important communication tool. Speaking of hearing…
2. Speak loudly enough that everyone in the room can hear you. It’s sounds obvious, but if they can’t hear you, your audience can’t form a good impression of you. Usually, this means you will be speaking louder than you normally do – that’s OK. You have to make sure that those farthest away from you can hear. This is especially important to remember if you have a normally soft voice or one that is harder to understand at a distance. For example, deep voices carry farther but tend to distort – so speak up, speak clearly, and leave the Barry White impression for later.
3. Stand tall and smile. What if you had to introduce yourself and you couldn’t speak? What would you do? Considering a very small percentage of communication is the words we use, you might be able to get away with it (not that I’m suggesting being mute at your next meeting). If you want to check this for yourself, watch TV with the volume down, you’ll be amazed at how much is still communicated. The best thing to do when introducing yourself: stand straight (which shows confidence) and smile (which shows openness) – two key attributes that will determine if your audience likes you or not!