Free self development lessons for Humanity

Introducing yourself: Making the first minutes count

Otermans Institute

at IIBM, Patna, India

Dev Aditya

Managing Director, Otermans Institute

Winner of  Bengal's Pride Award, House of Lords UK 2019

Related lessons

Some of our free lessons that you should learn after completing this lesson.

Cover Letter Essentials

CV Essentials

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Introducing yourself: Making the first minutes count


Listen first, then speak

Stay aware of your setting

Less will always be more

Story telling

How to talk about yourself

Closing your introduction

Some final vocal basics

Tips & Exercises for the 'lockdown'


This lesson includes parts of our normal interview and public speaking training sessions which we turned it into a digestible self-learning lesson, that can be learnt at home without the help of Otermans Institute’s specialised trainers. The points covered in this lesson can directly boost your performance at an interview and should be approached following our first two lessons on CV and Cover Letter writing. Interviews, however are not the only use of the tips covered in this lesson as these can be used in almost every formal and informal setting in life requiring an introduction.


We all know that your first impression could very well be your last impression; well unless given a chance to change that. This again only happens if you are employed following your interview or if the person continues their association with you following your first verbal introduction; both of which become unlikely if your first impression is bad. So, ensure that when you introduce yourself, in the first 90-180 seconds of the privileged time you get, you are able to form a direct and unique connection with the person and reach a position to give and receive favours as a result.


Listen first, then speak


It is always wise and polite to listen to the other person. While many of you may know this, here are the fundamental reasons why we at Otermans Institute stress on this. Firstly, listening to the other person shows you are interested in them and more often than not this gesture is reciprocated by the listener. Secondly, and more importantly, it can inform you about the beliefs and prejudices of the listener before you make your points; allowing you to tailor them without bumping into any uneasy dialogue. This means that while you will still cover your intended points, you will be able to focus on not hurting the listener’s sentiments when you speak.


For example: You wouldn’t want to use examples of rapid industrial growth to a green activist or Trump to a Democratic party supporter .


Stay aware of your setting


The language used in an interview is almost always different from when you are speaking or introducing yourself at a parent-teacher meeting or at a coffee date. Ensure you use the correct formal language and tone depending on where you are introducing yourself. A rule of thumb is to be more formal if you are unsure about the setting or the expectations of the listener.


Less will always be more


You have heard us mentioning this in earlier lessons and this is something we will continue pressing on in upcoming topics because of its sheer effectiveness. This strategy requires you to speak concisely while introducing the main points you wish to cover. You should strive to create a sense of mystery or at least leave the person wanting to know more about you following any introduction you make. This is also true for interviews where you are expected, and rightfully so, to mention all key aspects that make your candidacy a right fit for the role. However, even beyond the list of skills and experiences you mention, keeping the interviewer interested to know more about you and your deeper insights will always be an unconditional plus point.


Remember no one wants to know your entire life story, at least not in the first meeting. Use this to your advantage! However, do still use one or a maximum of three key stories from your life in any introductory setting. People are hard-wired to listen to stories from childhood and to align with them. However, ensure that you only mention stories that stem from your own experiences, and more importantly, are relevant to the setting.


For instance, do not talk about your love for football in a job interview for a legal position! On the contrary, you can acknowledge your love for pets in an informal introductory meet in a setting like a café. These are only examples and you should focus on using your own stories. In fact, you should absolutely avoid using rehearsed skits as your attempts will almost always be discovered. You can find more about using stories below.


Story telling


Using stories enables you to share intimate bits of yourself that help you better connect with your listeners. Often your listeners may have experienced similar encounters in their lives, and whether they share it with you at that time or not, you have already clicked on several different conscious and subconscious levels with them through your stories.


How to talk about yourself


This part of the lesson is true for both formal settings like interviews or an informal introduction over a cup of tea. This should be adhered to at the beginning of your introduction, after which hard facts may be warranted in the conversation. You should almost always talk about vision-oriented or impact-oriented aspects of yourself and your work. Most people I know may introduce themselves by saying: “I work for the railways” or “I am the CEO of Tinder, do you know about it?” However such introductions are ineffective in creating a strong impact.


What we at Otermans Institute suggest is that you talk about the vision and impact of your work, rather than narrating your title or employer's name. For instance, in the immediately above examples, one could instead use: “I help millions of people travel across thousands of kilometers in India every day” or “I help connect people seamlessly so that they can explore new and fruitful relationships in their lives.” Then you can go onto the hard facts like your designation in the railways or your role in the dating application company. This directly catalyses a feeling of wanting to know more about you in the listener and they would definitely listen closely. Facts normally bore us as listeners but usually consist of the primary points we want to get across as speakers. Use this technique to ensure they become keen listeners to your facts following your introduction. You can refer to the image above for a visual understanding of the main components to consider while making an introduction.


Closing your introduction


Yes, your introduction also needs a closing, and it most probably will direct the rest of your conversation. One of the key aspects to a good ending to an introduction is keeping the listener engaged and leaving the listener wanting to know more. If you end your introduction with the person asking a question or sharing something about themselves, you’ve successfully introduced yourself.


This alone is not enough and you should be able to anticipate what question can come after you end your introduction. This will allow you to have ideas about potential answers ready so that those questions queue into what you actually want to say. This will create a sense within the listener wanting to know more about those points you want to explain; as in essence, they are themselves asking you to elaborate on those points, rather than you pushing them into the conversation.


What not to do: Do not end your introduction with a closing statement like "it was nice to meet you" or "I look forward to being in touch". This may end the conversation with your introduction itself!


Some final vocal basics


When you introduce yourself, you should sound engaged and credible. This means that the listener should feel like you are interested in speaking to them and that you know what you are speaking about. While I expect that you would obviously be interested to speak to someone you are introducing yourself to and you will cover information that you have a good understanding or at least an opinion on, here are some quick vocal and tonal points to keep in mind.


Before starting an introduction, especially for interview-type situations, take a deep breath and try to speak from your diaphragm. This makes your voice sound deeper and more collected; giving a sense of credibility. Speaking from your throat at a higher pitch and a quick pace does the exact opposite! Furthermore, maintain eye contact to engage your listener which exhibits your interest to speak to them; covered separately on our Body Language lesson. You can also find some more professional tips in the video below.

I hope this lesson along with our other free lessons covering employment-securing topics enhances you to crack the next interview you attend following the lockdown or at least upskill your skills. If you are wondering why there was no mention of your body language in an interview setting, it is because it is covered separately as an entire lesson in this series which you should check out. Now go and make the most of your time at home and apply for all those jobs, with skills developed from our lockdown training, that you have been wanting to do but could not find the time for. All the best!


Tips & Exercises for the 'lockdown'


Self: You can practice the content of this lesson by practicing your voice and body language in front of the mirror. You can pretend to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.


A question that often comes in an interview is the following: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Think about how you would answer this question, what would you say and how would you say it? List them down!


Another task you can work on is preparing some answers to potential interview questions that usually come during or straight after your introduction. A few that are often asked during interviews are the following:


“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, “What are your strengths?”, “What are your weaknesses?”


When you are preparing your answers about your strengths and weaknesses, it is important to give examples and not just mention skills and abilities.


Family: Ask a senior friend or member of your family to conduct a mock interview for a job you are applying to or hope to in the future. This will provide a good practice for you and provide third-person feedback which is exceptionally handy. Furthermore, this exercise will get you started without the pressures of a formal interview practice class or the real thing itself.

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