Unless you’re a motivational speaker or a celebrity, it’s not often that you’ll be invited to address a large audience to talk about yourself – your career, your experiences and your path to where you are now. But it could happen, you never know. It recently happened to me, and I will admit, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
Whether you are asked to introduce yourself at an event (as in, “tell us a little bit about yourself,” or the dreaded, “let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves”), or you are asked to share a little bit about your background and experience in a meeting or capabilities presentation, you may have been stopped dead in your tracks too.
I’m about to give you some ideas, because, for those of you who have been SmartMouth followers for even a little bit of time, you know that my Rule #1, the ultimate speaker guideline, the holy grail of an effective talk is … drumroll, please … “it’s all about them, it’s not about you!” So, what to do when the topic is you yet it needs to be all about them?
Here are 3 tips:
1. Start with something valuable you want to leave with them.
Don’t begin with life data points; i.e. don’t start with your birthplace, and avoid chronology whenever possible. Try and begin with today and work backwards. Or try and start with your biggest accomplishment or most important lesson learned, where and how you it happened, and then you can weave in bits of chronology that way.
Here’s an example of what that would look like as an opening statement: You’ve asked me to share a little bit about myself and my career, so I’d like to do that by talking about my biggest career mistake – what the situation was, how I’ve learned from it and where I am today because of it.
2 2. Have a message about yourself or your work. An interesting one-sentence message.
If you have an elevator pitch for yourself, that’s great, but even just one quick message point about yourself is helpful.
I’ll give you an example: I have a friend named Janet. Janet is bright and curious and always the first to try something new. Case in point: she was one of the first adults I knew to go on Facebook when it was just venturing out of the college-student-only arena. Janet’s message about herself is, “I’m an explorer.” As marketing director for a large organization, “explorer” is obviously not on her business card, but it’s her message. It’s a quick statement that distinguishes her, it’s a grabber and gets people to pay attention.
3 3. Really think about your audience and decide what it is about you that will be most relevant or valuable for them to hear.
If you do have to be the topic, then be sure to pick what it is about your topic that might benefit your audience, and leave the rest out! We all have talents, accomplishments, and lessons that could benefit others, so identify those and see which might be most useful to your particular audience. Any other info or detail then becomes cutting room floor material. Less is always more anyway!
Even if it’s about you, it’s still all about them!
Communications Coach at SmartMouth Communications
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.