Many of us fear self-introduction, whether it’s in an online meeting or at the boardroom table. In any case, here’s a practical framework you can leverage to confidently present yourself online or in person: present, past, and future. You can customize this framework as an individual and for a specific occasion. Perhaps most importantly, when you use this framework, you’ll be able to focus on other people’s introductions instead of cooking up what you have to say about yourself.
You know the situation. It could be in an online meeting, or maybe you’re sitting around the boardroom table. The leader of the meeting asks everyone to introduce themselves briefly. Suddenly, your brain goes into hyperdrive. What should I say about myself?
When you’re tongue-tied, when you forget to mention something important or bad, you start ruminating on past self-introductions the longer you wander. Then, you realize that you are not listening to what others are sharing. If the quiz is on everyone’s name, you will fail.
The stress associated with introducing yourself is normal and not without warrant. All eyes and ears are on you. It’s easy to get confused. On the other hand, self-introductions are the most direct way to reinforce your desired personal brand. And they can easily.
The secret is using a simple framework: present, past and future.
Begin with a present tense statement to introduce yourself:
Hi, I’m Ashley and I’m a software engineer. My current focus is improving the customer experience.
Nice to meet you all. My name is Michael and I am a creative director. I work in the Brooklyn office.
Of course, what you share depends on the situation and the audience. If you’re not sure what to share, your name and job title are a good place to start. If there is an opportunity to elaborate, you can also share other details like current project, your expertise or your geographical location.
The second part of your introduction is the past tense. Here you can add two or three points that will give people relevant details about your background. This is your chance to establish credibility. Consider your education and other credentials, past projects, employers, and accomplishments.
My background is computer science. Prior to joining this team, I worked with big data to identify insights for our clients in the healthcare industry.
I have been with the organization for eight years. Most recently, I worked on an Alpha Financial account where last year’s campaign won us a Webby Award.
The third and final part of this framework is future-oriented. This is your chance to show enthusiasm for what lies ahead. If you are in a job interview, you can share your excitement about the opportunities at the organization. If you are in a meeting, you can express interest in the meeting topic. If you’re starting a project with a new team, you can talk about how excited you are or share your goals for the project.
I am honored to be here. This project is a great opportunity for all of us.
I look forward to working with all of you to solve our customers’ biggest challenges!
That’s it for the self-introduction framework. Present, past, future. Fluent and effective. By using this method, not only will you introduce yourself better, but it will free you from mulling over what to say when it’s your turn to introduce yourself and allow you to listen when others introduce themselves. You make it easier for the person who introduces themselves after you, because you end your self-introduction on a positive note.
You know what to do the next time you’re in a meeting and someone says, “Let’s go around the table and introduce ourselves.” Take slow, deep breaths and think “present, past, future.” Then smile and listen to everyone else until it’s your turn. You got this!