One of the more challenging parts of any presentation is the very first part. If you are wondering how to introduce yourself before starting your presentation, you are in good company. For most of us, once we get the first few sentences out, our nervousness will diminish pretty significantly. So, this initial self-introduction is really important. If we struggle here, our nervousness will increase. In addition, the old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is very true.
In this post, we are going to cover a very simple three-step process that will help you introduce yourself before starting any presentation. A summary of the steps are below.
- Start with your name and company (or organization).
- Tell your audience what problem that you can solve for them.
- Share some type of proof (social proof works best) that you can solve this problem.
I will break down each step into a simple to follow process, but first... a little background.
First, Identify What Your Audience Wants from Your Presentation
Before we get into the "How to" of the introduction before the speech, though, let's talk about the purpose. The main purpose of the introduction is to build rapport with your audience and to let them know some of your credentials. In addition, you also want to get the audience to pay attention to you. This can sometimes be a very difficult because, let's face it, most people who are sitting in a given meeting, don't really want to be there. So, if the speaker just stands up and brags about how great he is, he will likely turn off the audience right away.
So, before you design your introduction, think about what your audience wants from your presentation. Why do they want to spend their valuable time listening to you? Are going to waste their time? Or, are you going to provide them with something valuable?
For instance, I have an expertise in a number of different areas. I'm a public speaking coach, a keynote speaker, a best selling author, a search engine optimization specialist, and a popular podcaster. However, if I delivered that sentence to any audience, the most likely reaction would be, "So what?" That sentence doesn't answer any of the above questions. The statement is also really "me-focused" not "audience-focused."
So, when I start to design my self-introduction, I'm likely going to focus on just the area of expertise related to my topic. I'm then going to answer the questions above about that particular topic. Once you have these answers, set them aside for a second. They will be important later.
How to Introduce Yourself -- A Step-by-Step Guide.
Step #1: Start with your name and company (or organization).
This one is easy. Just tell your audience your name and what organization that you are representing. If your organization is not a well-known brand name, you might add a short clarifying description, though. For instance, most people outside of the training industry have never heard of The Leader's Institute ®. So, my step #1 might sound something like...
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company...
Still short and sweet, but a little more clear to someone who has never heard of my company.
Step #2: Tell your audience what problem that you can solve for them.
This is where all of the pre-work comes into play. This will be the answer to one of those questions that you asked earlier. For instance, if I'm delivering a speech about how to deliver presentations, I have to determine why the audience would care. What problem will they have that I can help them with? For my audiences, the problem that I most often help people with is to eliminate public speaking fear. Once I have the problem, I add that to my introduction by using the words, "I help people..."
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company, and I help people eliminate public speaking fear.
However, if my topic is How to Close a Higher Percentage of Sales Presentations, I'd likely want to alter my introduction a little. I might say something like...
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company, and I help people design more persuasive sales presentations.
I have an expertise in both areas, but I focus my introduction on just the expertise that is applicable the audience. If I gave the first introduction to the second audience, they will likely respond by thinking, well, I don't really get nervous speaking, so I guess I can tune out of this speech.
So, create a problem statement starting with, "I help people..." Make the statement applicable to what your audience really wants.
Step #3: Share some type of proof (social proof works best) that you can solve this problem.
By the way, if you just do steps #1 and #2, your introduction will be better than most that you will hear at a given conference. However, if you add Step #3, you will gain more respect (and attention) from your audience. Without adding some type of proof that you can solve this problem, you are just giving your opinion that you are an expert. However, if you can prove it, you will be seen as an expert.
This is the tricky part. For some reason, most people who get to this part feel like they haven't accomplished great things, so they diminish they great accomplishments that they do have.
For instance, one of my early clients was a young accountant. When I was working with him, he came up with the following introduction, "I'm Gary Gorman with Gorman and Associates CPA's, and I help small business avoid IRS audits." It was a great, audience-focused attention-getter. (No one wants to get audited.) However, as an accountant, it wasn't like his company was getting a lot of five-star reviews on Yelp! So, he was kind of struggling with his social proof. So, I asked him a series of questions.
Me, "How many clients do you have?"
Gary, "Over 300."
Me, "How many small business tax returns have you processed?"
Gary, "Well, at least a couple hundred a year for 15 years."
Me, "So, at least 3000?" He nodded. "How many of your 300 clients have been audited since you have been representing them?"
He looked at me and said, "Well, none."
So, we just added that piece of proof to his talk of introduction.
I'm Gary Gorman with Gorman and Associates CPA's, and I help small business avoid IRS audits. In fact, in my career, I've helped clients complete over 3000 tax returns, and not a single one has ever been audited.
For my proof, I have a number of options. Just like Gary, I have had a lot of students in my classes who have had great success. In addition, I have published two best-selling books about public speaking. I also have hundreds of thousands of people who listen to my podcast each week. So, I can pick my evidence based on what I want my audience to do.
For instance, if I'm speaking at a convention, and I want the audience to come by my booth to purchase my books, my introduction might sound like this.
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company, and I help people eliminate public speaking fear. One of the things that I'm most know for is being the author of two best-selling books, Fearless Presentations and Mastering Presentations.
For instance, if I'm leading a webinar, and I want the audience to purchase a seat in one of my public speaking classes, my introduction might sound like this.
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company, and I help people eliminate public speaking fear. For instance, for the last 20 years, I've taught public speaking classes to over 20,000 people, and I haven't had a single person fail to reduce their nervousness significantly in just tow days.
If my goal is to get the audience to subscribe to my podcast, my intro might sound like...
Hi, I’m Doug Staneart with The Leader’s Institute ®, an international leadership development company, and I help people eliminate public speaking fear. One of the ways that I do this is with my weekly podcast called, Fearless Presentations, that has over one million downloads, so far.
The point is that you want to design your introduction in a way that makes people pause and think, "Really? That sounds pretty good." You want to avoid introductions that make your audience think, "So what?"