How to: deliver great introductions

We introduce ourselves all the time – especially when we meet people for the first time. These introductions can be pretty high stakes because many folks make their minds about us from our introduction. This is especially so if you are presenting to executives and investors who are used to be making quick judgments about people.

So, here are 3 tips that help with delivering great introductions.

1. Start with why. Most self introductions end up beginning and ending with what we do. But, what we did is rarely as interesting as understanding why we did what. And, a great way to set that up is to start with what matters to you and tie the rest of the story to those themes. Even a simple start like – “I enjoy solving different kinds of problems” can go a long way in helping people understand how you make decisions.

So, given this, my ideal structure would be –

  • Start with why
  • Explain your professional path in a way that ties back to starting with why
  • Depending on context, add a few personal notes – hobbies, partners, etc.

The beauty about starting with the why aside is that it doesn’t just add purpose to why you did what you did. If the context is professional, telling people what drives you is a beautiful way to add a nice touch of personality to your introduction.

2. Practice delivering your introduction within 3 minutes – ideally 2.5 minutes. I think a general sweet spot time for great introductions is between 2 and 3 minutes. Any longer and you better be Steve Jobs-esque engaging. I’ve added a time limit here because it is vital you write your introduction out once and practice it. Great introductions take a ton of practice.

3. Test and iterate. Every time you introduce yourself, take a mental note of the feedback you see from the introduction. Are people excited to talk to you? Are their eyes glazing over? Do you radiate a certain energy when you do it?

Our self introduction goes from good to great over time and it is on us to be conscious every time we deliver it.