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How to Introduce yourself in Business Meetings (with Real Confidence).


By Daniel Kingsley

Mobile phone with the text hello

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Let’s talk introductions!

I hope that all my posts are practical, and that they give you actionable advice that you can use to be a more authentic and confident speaker and leader.

But this one is even more focused than usual.

One of the top five challenges for people I coach as business leaders or speakers, is that moment when you’re sitting in a business meeting and somebody says okay “Okay then, Introductions!”

Suddenly, the spotlight is on you, and you’re expected to look together, polished and confident while giving a good account of yourself.

Most people aren’t very good at this, and they think they should be.  They think they should find it easy, but they don’t.

So, if you’d like to learn how to do this much better… Read on!

 

Why Introducing yourself is so Challenging

Here’s the thing.  It’s really vulnerable to introduce yourself in public.  Here are 4 reasons why:

  • You’re being thrown in to speaking in public. You don’t get a round of applause, with time to settle yourself.  Suddenly you’re the centre of attention and you’re expected to be interesting, concise and make a good impression.
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  • The introductions are going round the table, and you’re watching other people do their intros, and you’re comparing yourself to them. Your mind is wondering – “Will I do it as well as they have?”, “What will everyone else think?”.
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  • As other people are introducing themselves round the table, you are judging them. So you know they are going to be doing the same for you.
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  • Most people suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”. This the idea that many of us have, that we’re not really good enough to be doing our jobs, and we’re going to get found out one day.  In surveys, about 80% of people admit to suffering from this, at least to some extent.  That’s huge!

 

So, what can we do about it?

There are 4 key areas, that I’m going to look at in this article:

  • How to deal with the vulnerability and build real confidence.
  • What to say.
  • How to practice.
  • How to deliver your speech really effectively and confidently.

So, let’s get on with it…

 

How to build real confidence

This is a vulnerable situation. There’s no way of getting around it. So, we need to manage that vulnerability, so it doesn’t get in the way of us doing a really good job.

We do this by taking ourselves “in hand”.  We’re going to use a methodology that psychologists and psychotherapists call “self-soothing”. There are lots of different ways of achieving self-soothing. The one I’ll offer is primarily psychological.  We’re going to get a more adult part of your brain to reassure a more childlike part of your brain, which is the part that’s freaking out.

There are 3 sections to this process  – Listening and Empathy, Validation and Reassurance.  Let’s look at how that might go in practice:

Listening & Empathy – Listen to the part of you that’s freaking out and repeat back what you’ve heard. E.g.  “I can hear that you’re really really worried about this.  You really want to make a good impression.  You’re worried that other people are going to judge you, and you’re freaking out a bit.  I get it.  That’s hard”.

Validation – Telling that part of your brain, with kindness, that it’s feelings make sense to you.  E.g.  “..and it really makes sense to me why you’re worried about this.  People are going to be judging you.  You want to make a good impression, and to make a difference to how they view you going forwards.  So, it’s really understandable that you’re worried about this”.  Note, that the kindness is really importance in this step.  This is a child-like part of your brain, so a warm mental tone makes all the difference!

Reassurance – What is the most positive thing that you could say to yourself right now, which it still absolutely true? What would a really good coach say if they were whispering in your ear at this moment?   E.g. “You do know what you’re talking about.  You’re actually good at your job.  We’ve scripted this, we’ve practised this.  There’s every chance we’re going to do a really good job!  I think we’ve got this!”

This process or skill is the thing that most public speaking or leadership coaches won’t teach you – how to manage the vulnerability itself. But this is the thing that’s going to make the biggest difference.  That’s my experience of working with thousands of clients in over a decade of coaching.  If you can do this for yourself, you’re going to be able to calm yourself down quite quickly, to the point where this is no longer going to feel like such a big deal.  The worrying will substantially subside.  And that’s game changing.

 

What are you going to say?

Regular readers of my blog will know that I don’t usually advocate scripting speaking in public. It destroys the spontaneity and the freshness.  (If you want to see details on my usual approach take a look on this article-How much should I prepare?).

But this is the one exception. This is the one public speaking opportunity where I recommend that you script every single word in advance.  In the context of a business introduction, it makes good sense to do this.

The reason for this is quite simple. We are most vulnerable in the first two minutes that we are speaking in public, and most introductions don’t last that long!  You’re at your most vulnerable, so you’re going to want to have something solid to hang onto.

I’m going to give you a very basic formula for an introduction in this context, which is very effective. Feel free to adapt it to your needs.  It has 3 sections:

  1. Say “Hello” and say what your name is.
  2. Tell them what your job title.
  3. Tell them what that means, and crucially what that means for them.

E.g. “Hello I’m James Smith.  I’m the Information Systems Controller here at Fortune International Bank.  I’m in charge of the team that looks after all your computers and all the programs on your computers.  So, if you’ve got any issue with the software that’s running, or the hardware that it’s running on, feel free to reach out to me or a member of my team.  I’m sure we’ll be able to sort you out”.

Short and sweet. That will do the job. It will probably take you 20 to 30 seconds.  45 seconds maximum.  If they have any other questions, they’ll be able to ask you later.

Depending on who you are introducing yourself to, you may need to tailor the bit at the end about how you could potentially help them . Think about who the people in the room, what they are going to know about you, what they won’t  know about you, and what their needs might be with regard to what you do. Think about the sort of questions that people in their situation could sensibly come to you with.

 

Practice!

I’d really recommend practising your introduction. And it’s great to practice it before you need it, so that any time you find yourself doing an introduction, even if you weren’t expecting to have to do it you’ve got something ready to go that feels fluent.

I’d recommend videoing yourself and watching yourself back. You don’t need any fancy technology. Your phone will do just fine!  Or many laptops will have the facility to do this as well.

Keep practising until you feel happy, or fairly happy with how you are coming across!  Keep going until it feels automatic. So you don’t need to think about it.

If you want some feedback on how you could do it even better, for some feedback on what you’ve said and crucially how you’re coming across.

 

Delivery

How do we deliver this really effectively?  I’m going to offer you 3 key tips:

  1. Slow down! Most people deliver their introductions way too quickly.  And this undermines the sense of you being confident in their eyes. Take your space and time. Deliver your introduction slowly enough that people can assimilate the information without having to think about it too much.   Use pauses to make paragraphs.  They don’t need to be long. A second or two will do.
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  2. Make eye contact, while you are delivering your introduction. Ideally you want to be having eye contact with 3 or 4 people during the course of your introduction, for 3 to 5 seconds each.  It’s going to give you better connection with your audience, and if you do it “right” it’s going to calm you down.  If you want more information on how to do this check out this video I made on seeing and allowing yourself to be seen.
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  3. Get behind yourself! I’ve written about how to get behind yourself  (This strategy is in some ways very similar to the self-soothing explained above).  In the moment of delivery, notice the part of you that’s freaking out, and simply say to that part of you “We’ve got this!  It’s all going to be fine.  We know how to do this.  I think we’re going to do a good job”.  Again, a positive and reassuring tone is very important here.  Trust that if you believe in what you’ve got to say, other people are going to believe in what you’ve got to say.

 

So that’s it!

There’s nothing more to it than that! It may seem pretty daunting at the start, but with practice this is going to become second nature to you.

Once we realise that there’s nothing wrong with us for finding this challenging and we give ourselves actionable strategies that we can use this becomes a highly surmountable challenge.

If you want to see me demonstrating all of these steps, you can check out this video I made on How to introduce yourself in business meetings with real confidence.

As always, do give it a go and let me know how you get on! I love to hear from you.

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If you’d like to get some personal guidance on these issues, contact us for 1-2-1 coaching, available wherever you are, over Zoom, Skype or Teams.

Daniel Kingsley
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