January 25, 2011

How to answer the dreaded question: "Tell us something about yourself"

Remember: They aren't judging you.
At the first meeting of any group, or at recurring meetings where there might be new members, there are always introductions.

And these introductions are dreaded by most of the people in the room, who find deep discomfort with having to talk about themselves, especially when the question is vague, like "Tell us something about yourself."

Why do we hate introducing ourselves? Some people are uncomfortable being the center of attention. Some don't know what to say. Some think they have nothing interesting to say. But in my experience, more people than not dislike introducing themselves in a group.

Contrary to popular belief, introducing yourself in a group is not the same thing as impromptu speaking, or speaking "off the cuff." You KNOW you will have to introduce yourself, and therefore you have the opportunity to prepare.

Plan your introduction in advance, using the following tips, and you will find your dread receding.

1. Prepare

What's the group about and what information would be relevant to them? If it's a business networking group, share how your business helps people. If it's a support group, share what brought you there. It's not complicated. Why are you there and what do you hope to accomplish?

Time yourself to make sure you're keeping it brief and concise. Keep your introduction to 30 seconds or less.

2. Connect

Mention something personal that will help others relate to and remember you. I might say that I was born in Santa Barbara (there aren't many of us around in my age group -- there's a bit of a "wow" factor), or that I have an 18-year-old kitty, or that I've been a vegetarian for 22 years. There's no need to get into deep secrets, but especially when the question is "tell us something about yourself," you have some freedom to express a little about who you are and what makes you unique.

3. Stand tall

Make eye contact, smile, and hold your head high. Good posture and eye contact demonstrate confidence and show that you're not embarrassed about who you are and what you have to say. And why should you be? You ROCK!

4. Show enthusiasm

Show your interest in the group, the topic, your work, or whatever it is you're sharing in your introduction. Be positive; people will want to get to know you better.

Now, the logistics.

When it's your turn, stand up. Do not start speaking until you are fully standing.


Make eye contact with a couple of people.

Say your name.

State why you are in the group or what you hope to accomplish.

Share one or two things about yourself that you've prepared.

Finish speaking completely before you sit down.

There -- you're done!

That wasn't so hard, was it?

When you are joining a group or attending a meeting, you need to assume that there will be introductions. You have no excuse not to prepare. And once you have prepared yourself, you will find introductions much easier and much more comfortable in the future.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

Excellent post. I might add when you are attending a networking opportunity such as a meet up or Kyle Lacy and Eric Deckers book launch last night, ask open ended questions about others first - you may be surprised they will ask you in turn.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for commenting, Randy. Great point!

This article was meant to address just the introduction to a group. Networking is a whole other issue and I've got a lot of posts about that, too!

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