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I will be delivering several concurrent sessions at an upcoming conference. Each of the speakers has been asked to do self-introductions before each session. Although I’ve seen this done well with a team of presenters, I’d like some ideas on how to start off with a great self-introduction. What have you done in the past when you don’t have a session introducer? What are some memorable and successful ways to use video for introductions?

— Milo Shapiro

Others might disagree, but here was my first thought:

My normal introduction includes PowerPoint slides that precede my first actual slide. They show pictures of me in different situations that go with what is being said about me. It gives the visual learners something to focus on and, as I designed it, yields a few laughs as well.

I think a self-introduction is a horrible idea because it undermines a strong opening, but if I were given no choice, I’d have a friend of the opposite gender (so it couldn’t possibly be interpreted as being my voice) record my introduction for me and I’d play it as I advanced the PowerPoint slides as she spoke. It’s different, memorable, and allows the first words out of my mouth to be more powerful than what’s in my intro.

— Steve Barcellona

Here’s an idea I have used a couple of times with great results.

Walk on the platform and begin a glowing introduction of yourself. “This next speaker is a person I have known for many years. It is so rare to meet someone who you see eye to eye with, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH... Let’s really have a huge round of applause for a great speaker, (your name)!” Throw your hand back like someone is going to walk out, run to the back of the platform and step forward with a flattered, surprised look on your face. You will get a big laugh and the group will love you right from the start.

— Diana Royce Smith

This is just a one-off idea but could be interesting and fun. Become someone else and, as them, introduce yourself. It could be a favorite client or last client — and you could actually get them to talk with you about what they’d say (now that they’ve experienced you) and employ that.

Or some character everyone could recognize — Steve Jobs? Oprah Winfrey? Or do the intro you’ve always dreamed about, or had nightmares about. Be sure to acknowledge the introduction when “you” take over from “them.”

— Steve Hughes

Here are some ideas, and since I don’t know you, I say find what you think works best for you and go for it.

  • Read the introduction as though it were written by somebody else. I’ve done this before as though my mom wrote it, but you have to set it up. “Ladies & Gentlemen, since there’s no one here to introduce me and it cost too much to fly my mom here, I thought I’d go ahead and read the introduction that she wrote.” Then have fun with it. Say how proud she is of you.
  • You can do the same thing from other people’s perspective, i.e. a member of the audience/company, their biggest competitor, the hotel staff, etc.
  • Have someone else to from the audience to come up and introduce you. Two options: arrange it ahead of time with a willing party, or offer an incentive like a $10 Starbucks card for someone who is willing to come up on stage and introduce you.
  • Get one of the speakers from another concurrent session (who isn’t slated to speak during your time slot) and have him/her introduce you. At least you know they’re somewhat competent at speaking and will do a good job.
  • Whatever you, be sure to give them a nugget or something of value first. Truth be told, they don’t necessarily care about you at the beginning of your speech, but after you give them a poignant thought, an interesting quote, or an answer to a problem, they’ll be more interested in hearing more about you.

— Merit Gest

I think it would be clever and fun to use a video intro. Why not have another professional speaker do your introduction on video and use that instead of you telling the group about yourself, which always seems awkward. I wonder if you could do something clever with the video as if it were a live person and record them with pauses for you to interact. I’m not saying this from experience, but it sounds clever and funny in theory. Also, it could be a lot more time invested in an intro than is really necessary.

— Rita Risser

I have made more than a thousand presentations where I self-introduced. I figure they are already there so I don’t have to say anything! I start by saying, "OK, let’s get started." People quiet down, I say "My name is Rita Risser, and I’m a lawyer," and then say something meant to be funny like "but don’t hold it against me" or "and I like lawyer jokes" or something else very light. Then "In this session we’re going to ..." Remember, WIIFM — what’s in it for me (the audience member). To me the most important thing to do is to connect with them by showing them quickly I have a sense of humor and that I respect their time by getting to the content.

I do have my total bio in the handout. If you don’t have a handout it could be on a PP slide when they come in. I do weave in my background through my anecdotes — “When I coach executives on ..., they sometimes say...”

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions