In a presentation skills program a few weeks ago, someone asked me, "Gilda, how do I introduce myself at the start of my presentation to warm up the audience and establish credibility?" Contrary to what you might think, the answers do not include a lengthy recital of all your achievements or a five-minute soliloquy on why you were chosen to present.
Here are 6 tips for introducing yourself at the start of your presentation, so you engage the audience and establish your credibility:
1. Have a Short Introduction
If you're speaking at an event or a conference, usually someone introduces you using whatever written material you've provided them. Use an introduction that is short (just a few sentences) rather than one that catalogues all the wonderful things you've accomplished since the 6th grade. While it's important to establish your credibility, having a laundry list of your every credential, client and project will bore the audience before you even start speaking.
2. Include Only Relevant Details in Your Intro
Your introduction is not the same as your biography, but rather it includes only the specific information from your bio that is relevant for this audience. For example, when I speak to project managers, my introduction includes my credential as a Project Management Practitioner (PMP); however, I omit it when I speak to small business owners since it is not relevant and instead, include the fact that I run my own business.
3. Include the Extra Details in the Invite or Handout
It's okay to include extra details about yourself in the meeting invitation or in the handout, as long as they are relevant to the group or particularly interesting. Then it's the audience's choice if they want to read it and you don't force them to sit through it before you begin.
4. Jump Right Into Your Content
Don't waste the precious few seconds that you have to capture the audience's attention by talking about yourself. You establish your credibility by being master of your content - so jump right into it with a startling statistic, an interesting fact or a relevant story. Then provide an overview of your presentation and begin your first point. If you feel compelled to talk about yourself, then 1 or 2 short and well-delivered sentences will suffice; be sure to practice saying them so you don't have a lot of "ums" and "ahs."
5. Reveal More During the Presentation
It's best to start off directly with your topic and then reveal information about yourself as an organic part of the presentation. For example, you could say "last week when I was working with [insert famous person or company name here]…" or "when we showed the new product to a group of engineers last month, they were very happy with it."
6. Limit the Thank-Yous
While it's fine to start out by thanking your hosts and affirming how excited you are to be presenting for this audience, make sure this is not long and drawn out. This is not the time to thank everyone in the room by name – just give the highlights and quickly move into your content. Incorporate the extra thank-yous into your presentation or save them for later.
If you follow these 6 tips for introducing yourself at the beginning of your presentation, you'll be off to a good start - and more likely to engage the audience and establish your credibility.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people improve their presentation and communication skills so they can be more successful. Sign up to receive more public speaking and networking strategies from Gilda's e-newsletter: http://www.gildabonanno.com/Pages/newsletter.aspx
You are so right about keeping it short. As usual, the audience doesn't care about me. They want to learn something about whatever topic I am discussing.
I had lunch with someone and asked what is background was (in terms of the job he held) and was given a blow by blow description starting with where he was born. Needless to say, we don't keep in touch. TMI is not helpful.
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