We’ve all been there – that moment when we are asked to introduce ourselves in a meeting.
We know it’s coming (or should know) so why are we ever caught off guard?
It helps to have given some thought to how we can best introduce ourselves, both generally and to each particular audience.
While I would never suggest delivering a memorised personal introduction, it helps to ask yourself a few questions, and then come up with some phrases that can be called on as appropriate to help you make a positive, powerful impact.
Here are 3 tips to help:
Tip #1. Communicate what you have to offer.
Tip #2 Provide some context that’s relevant and of interest to the audience.
Tip #3 Do this in a memorable, positive and impactful way.
Why are you there, and why have you been invited?
Your motivation and purpose for being there may or may not be closely related to why the other party invited you – or agreed to the meeting. Understanding the difference here is really important.
No salesperson would say “I’m Jennifer Green from Acme Information and I’m here to promote our information services” – at least I hope not! (Although, truth be told, I have heard introductions along similar lines; I would just like to forget about them.) Whilst that may be true, it will inspire zero engagement or real interest from the other people who are present.
Situations and therefore types of introductions are many, however here are a few examples:
- Let’s say the prospective client has agreed to meet you at your invitation (or perhaps you have been referred by someone they know) -Their reasons in this case may be more along the lines of “I feel we are out of touch with our customers; our sales and market share are not as strong as they were and I’d like to know whether Acme Information could help me find out why, and what we can do to get back on track“.On this basis, a better introduction for Jennifer could be: “I’m Jennifer Green, a data expert from Acme Information. Thank you for meeting with me. We work with companies in many different industries to help them understand how to capture and use information to help them improve their offering to their customers. My objective today is to gain a greater understanding of your business and how our proven data capture systems could help youconnect more effectively and get back on track with your customers.“
In less than 30 seconds, this communicates what you have to offer, the fact that you are interested in their business challenges, and that your focus is on how you can be of service. Nevermind that that being of service does generate sales for your company – that’s understood by everyone and completely beside the point for the client, who is only interested in how you can help them. That’s why they accepted the meeting and it’s the only way you will get and keep their interest throughout said meeting.
- Or, let’s say you are meeting new people internally -It’s super helpful for other people to know related information about you and your experience.For example, “Hi, I’m John Carson, an Internal Architect in International IT. I’ll be leading the development of your software for this project, working closely with you to ensure it does everything it needs to do. I’ve worked on similar projects before such as Customer Criteria and the launch of our new online service last year and I’m good at managing teams to keep things on track. I look forward to working with you all.“
How you come across is as important as what you say; If you look or sound unsure of yourself as you deliver your introduction, it will lack impact.
Body language and vocal impact usually go together – like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say. (It’s kind of hard to speak out confidently when your back and shoulders are hunched – I’m just saying.)
So here’s some helpful tips about your body language:
- Always speak with an upright back and shoulder position – I’m not talking at military attention here – and maintain eye contact with the group as you speak.
- Keep your body language open – this means don’t cross your arms or hands in front of you and keep your hands visible rather than under the table or in your pockets.
- As you speak, make eye contact with the people you are meeting – otherwise they may think (at best) that you lack confidence about yourself or what you are saying, and (at worst) that you are hiding something, neither of which would inspire confidence and a desire to do business with you.
- Ensure your voice is loud enough to be heard easily by everyone.
- They will be more attentive if your voice is calm and measured, so don’t rush. If you have something valid to contribute, they need to know what it is.
- That last bit – measured – doesn’t mean expressionless! Ensure you communicate some enthusiasm for being there, with them, at that time, for that purpose.
- Finally, don’t just trail off at the end of your last sentence; finish decisively.
If you do these things – communicate what you can contribute in an effective way, provide some context that is of interest to the audience, and make sure that how you do this has impact, you will do yourself and everyone there a service. And that’s a great way to start a meeting.