You would want to make a good impression on your friends when you introduce yourself on the first day in class at your school or college – or at some other gathering. Wouldn’t you?
A small note before we dive into thick of things: Self-introductions can be context-driven, implying that because of unique situation you’re in, you may have to customize some part of the introduction. So, feel free to add or subtract to what’s covered here.
What to include in self-introduction?
Is there a format (for the introduction) to follow? The organizer, for example, may ask to include your name, place you come from, and your hobbies in the introduction.
If there is a format, follow it, but feel free to venture into areas that aren’t included in the format if they provide a more complete picture of yours.
You may include following in your introduction:
1. The start
You can start with the obvious – your name.
But that’s a common start. You can be bit innovative by starting with an attention-grabber. Watch the beginning of this video on marketing to get a feel of what I’m saying (watch the first 15 seconds):
Neil didn’t start with his name. He started with things that will grab people’s attention immediately and came to his name later on.
You can follow the same strategy to stand out among your classmates, most of whom would be following the standard ‘name first’ approach. You can start with a unique experience or a peculiar fact about your city or your uncommon hobby. The first sample intro (later in the post) follows this strategy.
More resources on conversations and introductions:
- How to introduce yourself in different settings?
- How to say ‘thank you’?
- How to respond when someone asks ‘how are you’?
2. Where are you from?
Mention the city you come from. You may add a sentence or two about the city as well if there is something interesting to talk about. Maybe the city is known for historic monuments. Maybe it’s known for natural resources.
And if you’ve lived in multiple cities, you may briefly mention the names and, as mentioned above, a sentence or two on the most interesting of them.
3. Where did you last attend the school?
If you recently moved to a new school (or college) and are introducing yourself there, you can briefly talk about your last school. Are there any interesting facts about your last school? If yes, mention them. Maybe it was established a long, long time ago. Maybe it has produced few famous alumni.
If you’re continuing in the same school, you may mention how many years you’ve been studying there.
4. Interests, hobbies, and achievements
What are your interests and hobbies?
Playing a sport? Traveling? Hiking? Reading? Kite flying? Or something unusual, say bull fighting?
Go into details if you’ve pursued the hobby with serious interest. For example, if you’re into reading, mention what genres you read, your favorite books, your favorite author, and how reading has affected you.
Don’t forget to mention your participation in extracurricular activities in school, if you did. Don’t forget to mention any significant achievements you’ve had?
5. Which stream/department/subject have you enrolled in?
You can briefly talk about which subjects (math, science, arts, commerce, biology, and so on) you’ve picked or you intend to pick in future. Optionally, you may also mention why you made the choice you have. Was it because you love it? Was it because it’ll help you achieve your career goals?
If you’re a college student, you can mention the department you’ve enrolled in. Are you in Arts, Commerce, Mechanical Engineering, Science, or Economics?
This doesn’t apply though if you’re introducing yourself to students who’re all from the same stream/department/subject.
6. Do you’ve clarity on interests/goals you want to pursue in future?
If you’re in K-12, you may not have seriously evaluated what career path you want to follow, and that’s fine. But if you’ve certain career aspiration and if you want to talk about it, you can. Some want to become engineer. Some, astronaut. Some, doctor. Some, model. Speak out what you aspire to become.
Most college students though have more concrete idea on post-college career. If you’ve decided the career path you want to pursue after college, you can share it with your classmates. You never know few of your classmates harboring same career aspirations may just approach you to be friends. You may also mention professional clubs you want to join to hone your skills.
7. Where can you help others?
If you’ve a strength others in your class can benefit from, feel free to share it. For example, if you’re good in dancing, you can offer to teach the ropes to anyone interested. If you’re strong in a particular subject that is part of your syllabus, you can offer to help others in that subject.
If people know of your strengths, they’ll readily approach you when they need help. This is an easy way to make friends in college. And if you think helping others may be a time waster, you should remember that you too may need help in areas where others are stronger.
This is also a good stage – by offering help – to finish your intro. (See the first sample intro.)
Should I talk about my family?
Avoid it unless the format of the intro requires you to talk about your family as well. You need not go into what your parents do and which class your siblings study in.
Should I mention my last year’s grades?
You shouldn’t unless specifically asked to or others are mentioning it. Top grades can lend a snobbish air to your intro, even if you’re otherwise. Students may make an impression that you’re flaunting your grades, even if you aren’t.
Remember, the primary goal of your intro is to make friends, find people with shared interests.
Four do’s and don’ts when introducing yourself
1. Listen to other intros
Listen to intros that come before yours. If you can refer to someone else’s point or two seamlessly in your intro, you’ll impress people around.
2. Practice, but don’t cram
People often go blank on some of the points or get nervous when they stand up to speak. The best long-term way to overcome this is exposure to such speaking experiences. But in the immediate term, practice what you want to say few times (don’t cram though) to increase your odds of speaking with confidence.
3. Appear confident even if you’re not
After the presentations by executives and entrepreneurs (presumably confident speakers) as part of an executive program at Harvard University, Carmine Gallo, one of the judges, asked them how their presentations went. He heard following comments:
“I was so nervous. I was shaking.”
“I forgot what to say about a slide.”
“I stumbled over my words.”
“I totally lost my place.”
But, no one in the audience spotted those mistakes.
This phenomenon is called spotlight effect, which in nutshell means that people overestimate how much others are noticing their actions and appearance.
What’s the lesson?
If you’re nervous or you make few mistakes, don’t let them rattle you. Most won’t even notice them. Caroline Goyder captures this sentiment aptly in her book Find Your Voice: The Secret to Talking with Confidence in Any Situation:
When you dive into contribution [speaking], and move beyond the anxious competing, you realize that all the worry was such a waste of time. No one is ever judging you as harshly as you judge yourself. Because the truth is that most people are thinking about themselves.
But if you let nervousness and mistakes overpower you, you may make a mistake or display body language that will be noticed by all. And once you’re through the first few lines in your intro, your nerves will start easing.
So, stay composed and carry on. Many in the audience in fact wouldn’t even be listening to most introductions, as they would be busy silently rehearsing their own lines.
4. Make eye contact and be enthusiastic
Make eye contact with other students while speaking. Don’t fix your eyes on a familiar section of the audience. Move your eyes around. And, last but important, your voice and body language should show enthusiasm.
Here are few sample self-introductions for you to get a hang of how they’re done:
I once spent an entire night in a dense forest with a friend. Well, this act was not to show off how brave I was, but it was forced on me… by my foolishness. During a trek in [name of the region], I and a friend got too adventurous and strayed from our regular route despite instructions to the contrary by our trek guide. We got lost. We survived somehow (that’s a story for another day), but I haven’t given up on my adventure streak and love for outdoors.
Friends, I’m [your first name] and I love outdoors. I’ve been to treks in Himalayas on multiple occasions. These outdoor expeditions have also forced me to learn basic cooking. Well, I don’t boast of cooking dishes you’ll relish, but yes when you’re dying of hunger in the middle of night, you can count on me. I also love cycling long distances – 20+ kilometers in a stretch – and I can manage singing which some may find intolerable.
I’m from [name of the city]. It’s not a big place, but it somehow exists on the map. I’m really excited to be here. I look forward to having some fun, making friends, and building myself up for college. If you’re organizing any outdoor event in future, you can always count on me for help.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself.
My name is [your first name]. I’m from [name of the city] where I finished my schooling last year from [name of the school]. Is there anyone here from my city? (Changes tack to engage with the audience.) OK, few.
I like watching movies, at least once a month. I play basketball on weekends and chess whenever I get time. I’m into reading thriller novels as well, Dan Brown being my favorite novelist.
I’m happy to step into college life, which provides more freedom and where, finally, I don’t have to come in a uniform. Post-college, I aspire to work in consulting industry.
I’m particularly strong in Excel worksheets and creating well-designed banners and documents. If anyone requires support in these areas, I’ll be glad to help. I look forward to meeting each one of you in the coming days.
Thanks. Have a great day.