How to introduce yourself in presentations

Summary: Tips and phrases for connecting with the audience and hooking them into the presentation topic with personal information

The personal introduction is often the most boring and pointless sentence in a presentation, but done well it can help form a personal bond with the audience and hook them into the presentation topic. For practice materials on this and other parts of the presentation opening, body and ending, see Teaching Presentation Skills: Interactive Classroom Activities.

How not to introduce yourself in presentations

The worst possible presentation introduction is also probably the most common,

being something like “Good morning. My name is John Smith. I’m a third year Physics student at North Wilding University”. This is a terrible because:

  • It’s too soon
  • Most or all of the attendees already know the information, and it neither acknowledges that nor adds something new
  • There seems to be no reason for sharing that particular information
  • It’s boring
  • It’s similar to what other presenters will probably say
  • It’s could be the same as the presenter says to every audience
  • It doesn’t help make a personal connection to the audience or hook the audience into the presentation topic
  • It’s difficult or impossible to link to the rest of the presentation introduction


Good personal introductions in presentations

The best personal info at the beginning of presentations is obviously the opposite of the bad examples described above, including:

  • Coming at the right place
  • Including at least some new information for everyone in the audience
  • Acknowledging when some of the information is already known
  • Having an obvious reason for being shared, or including a reason for sharing it
  • Being interesting, surprising or even shocking
  • Being unique (to that presentation, that audience, that topic, etc)
  • Helping make a personal connection to the audience and/ or helping hook the audience into the topic
  • Linking smoothly with the parts before it and after it in the presentation introduction

Tips and phrases to help achieve all of those things are given below.


Timing your presentation’s personal introduction/ Linking the personal info to other parts of starting presentations

A personal introduction should generally go quite early (like meeting someone). However, before talking about yourself, it’s generally best to acknowledge the audience and make personal connection with them with starters like:

  • Good morning everyone. I’m really impressed that so many people came when the weather is so lovely outside.
  • Hi everyone. Thanks for coming at what I know is an especially busy time.
  • Hi guys. I’m sure you are all a bit sleepy after lunch, but…

However, sometimes the personal information can also act as a connecting to the audience phrase, in which case it might alright to start with it, as in:

  • Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is John Smith, and like you I…
  • Hi everyone. (As almost all of you know, I’m John Smith.) I’m sure, like me, you…

It may also go later in the presentation due to serving as or linking smoothly to a hook as in:

  • The title of my presentation is… I’m … and I’m researching this rather strange topic, something which I first became interested in one day in 1973, when…
  • Did you know that…? Neither did I, until just the day before yesterday, although when you hear my career history, that may surprise you. My name is… and I…

You may also want to put the hook before the personal introduction simply because it is more interesting and the audience will need hooking right from the start.

It is also possible to put personal information almost anywhere else in the presentation opening, depending on what parts smoothly go together and what parts you think are most important and so should go first. Perhaps the latest it could go is in:

  • …and finally, the presentation will conclude with… My name is…, and I’ll attempt to guide you through this moral maze, using my knowledge gained through…


Known and new information in presentation introductions

Unless someone else has just introduced you, it seems natural to give your name even in a room full of people that you know. However, you need to acknowledge that it’s not new information (to everyone/ to anyone) with language like:

  • I think I’ve met everyone here but I’ll introduce myself anyway just in case. I…
  • I think you all know my face but perhaps not my name, which is…
  • For those of you who are still getting me mixed up with my brother, I’m…
  • As all of you know,…
  • As most of you probably know,…
  • As some of you might have guessed,…
  • I think a couple of people possibly remember this from last year, but…
  • For the few people who didn’t hear my presentation yesterday,…

These phrases can also be used for other info that at least some people already know such as where you’ve come from. Note the range of different language used to show how many people know that information already and how sure the presenter is that they know it. This is necessary because “As you know, I am an expert in…” would mean “As I am 100% sure that all of you know/ remember,…”, which sounds arrogant, is probably inaccurate, and would mean that hearing that info again is pointless for everyone there.

Many people feel that their name should be followed by who they work for, their job title and/ or their research interests. This can help hook the audience if you are the world expert in something, work for a really trendy company, have a crazy job title, etc, but for most people is just something boring and/ or obvious. If you really feel that you can’t miss it out, this should be followed as quickly as possible by information which is new and interesting to everyone. The parts that people know or can guess and the new stuff can be linked with phrases like:

  • I work for…, but before that…
  • My job title is just…, which sounds pretty boring, but in fact it includes…
  • You may know my company… for…, but in fact our fastest growing business area is…
  • I think everyone has heard me go on about… before, but you might not be aware that…
  • I specialise in…, so you can probably guess that…, but it might surprise you to hear that…
  • I think one person in this room has already heard the rumour that I…, but even they don’t know that…


Interesting, surprising and shocking personal information in presentations

What will interest the audience obviously depends a lot on the relationship between them and the presenter, and the kinds of personal info will also be limited by needing to link to the topic. However, most presenters should be able to use at least one thing from:

  • unusual hobbies
  • pets and other possessions
  • places you have lived or been
  • your family background
  • famous people you’ve met or have connections to
  • unique experiences
  • problems you have experienced (and come back from)
  • what age you were when you did particular things
  • things you didn’t know or misunderstood (until…)
  • other things you could have done
  • advice you have been given
  • something you heard or read which has inspired you (for a long time)
  • something that has stayed in your memory
  • a favourite scene from a movie, book, etc
  • a childhood photo
  • a number related to your life
  • another name (childhood nickname, middle name, maiden name, etc)


Making a personal connection to the audience and hooking them into the topic with personal information

The personal information that you give can be or be tied to almost any kind of presentation hook, including:

  • quotations (“a quotation which has sustained me through… has been…”, etc)
  • survey questions (“How many people here, like me,…?”, “I think I might be the only person here who…, but let’s check with a quick show of hands”, etc)
  • interesting statistics (“This year I estimate that I have… times, and that’s less than the average…, meaning that as a country we…”, etc)
  • intriguing photos (“… but in my free time, I collect things like this. It might not look like anything special, but…”, etc)

It can also be linked to almost any connecting with the audience tactic, including:

  • guessing how the audience feels (“I’ve been here for… years now, so I’m starting to get used to the kind of humidity that you all had to get through to be here today, but by the end of this century…”)
  • mentioning things around you (“I was sitting on the exact same chairs that you are now as an undergraduate in this university… years ago, and it was in this university that I first became interested in….”, etc)]
  • noticing people in the audience (“I see that many people here have…, but you may notice that I… This is related to my topic, because…”, etc)
  • thanking the audience for something specific (“Thanks for braving the snow to get here today. I was afraid that the weather could cancel this culmination of my last five years of work, so I really appreciate that you all came”, etc)

There is more on hooks and connecting with the audience on this site.


Obvious and stated reasons for sharing personal information in presentations

The smoothest and easiest way of showing why you are sharing particular personal information is by linking it to the topic afterwards, with phrases like:

  • … but it may surprise you to know that most of my free time is taken up with…, which is what I want to speak about today.

However, sometimes more direct giving reasons language can be useful, in phrases like:

  • and I… Why am I telling you this, you might wonder? Well,…
  • … but I also… The reason why I shared this rather personal information with 80 people is…


Making unique presentation personal introductions

If you follow the tips on making the personal info connected to the topic, new for the audience and likely to connect personally with them and/ or hook them into the topic, then being unique should come naturally. However, it’s always worth double checking the originality of what you plan to say with questions like:

  • Is this similar to what other presenters might say (on the same day, if they had the same topic, etc)?
  • Is this similar to what I’ve said in introductions to other presentations?

Depending on the answers, you may need to rewrite that part of your presentation introduction.

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