How to Introduce Yourself

Do you know how to effectively introduce yourself?

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #58

Communicate Proper Body Language

As you are saying these initial words, remember that the majority of your impact will come from your tone of voice and body language. Of course, with all introductions you’ll want to communicate enthusiasm by smiling, using direct eye contact, and speaking with an upbeat, positive tone of voice. In a business setting, you’ll likely also include a handshake.

You’ll want a firm, full-handed, web-to-web, handshake. Be sure to listen to my previous episode on effective handshaking and be sure to test your handshake on several folks before important introductions such as job interviews.

Along with a confident handshake, you’ll also need to walk and stand with confidence. That means walking slightly faster than normal, with your shoulders back. I always like to imagine someone pouring cold water down my back because this mental image helps me to move faster and keep the right posture.   Your goal is confidence but not over-confidence (that’s just intimidating and off-putting). And remember, fresh breath is important. Always carry mints with you.

Build Rapport Through Common Ground

Next, an important part of any introduction is to consider your audience. Who exactly are you introducing yourself to? What will they find interesting and compelling? What can you share that might help to quickly build common ground and help you make a connection?

In the letter the principal sent to my children she mentions that she likes to eat pizza and ice cream and go to the beach in the summer. Of course, she chose these particular things on purpose--what kid doesn’t like pizza, ice cream, and the going to the beach! Similarly, in the parent introduction letter, she shares her goals for the new students during the year--which of course, are shared by any parent.

In a classroom setting, students and teachers should share their interests, their educational goals, and their activities--again in an effort to establish common ground. In a conference room, it’s really no different. Business professionals share their professional interests, their business goals, and their business activities.

Again the goal is to establish common ground and make a connection. It can be anything that you are both interested in. It doesn't have to be school or business related. It doesn't even have to be of great importance. Just be sure to start with "safe" obvious links and avoid controversial topics.

“Hi, Mary, I’m Lisa, Lisa Marshall. It’s great to meet you Mary. I’m a communication specialist and I’m also one of the speakers today. I’d love to hear who you thought was the best speaker so far?

Be Brief and Conversational 

Self-introductions should be short and conversational.  Share something about yourself, then ask a question that invites the other person to join the conversation. Notice that self-introductions should be short and conversational. After sharing very briefly about yourself, you then ask a question that helps lead your partner into a conversation. (The exception of course, is in an interview setting, where it’s best to let your interviewer lead the conversation).

It’s possible to be conversational even in writing--again by asking questions. In the letter from the principal to my girls, she encouraged them to write her back by asking them what they liked to eat and do during the summer.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.