Thursday, March 26, 2009

when you have to introduce yourself

It's one thing when you're introduced by someone else (and I recommend you take charge of that situation here). But what if you have to introduce yourself?

This isn't as rare as it may seem. In many of my professional organizations, time is set aside for a round-robin of self introductions, as in "Let's each introduce ourselves briefly to the group before our speaker begins." In this case, audience members are introducing themselves. If you're the main speaker, you may need to fill in if the moderator, host or organizer is out of the room or otherwise absent. In many ways, I find it preferable to introduce myself, but it takes some finesse. Here's how to handle making yourself known to a group:

  • Dial it down just enough: When someone else introduces you, it's fine for them to emphasize your big award or recent honorific. Just don't do it yourself, unless you do so obliquely. You'll score bigger points if you summarize your credentials succinctly and sparingly. If you know ahead of time that you'll be doing a self-introduction, make sure the audience has a printed bio--also short--or that you've supplied the group with a short standard bio to post online.
  • Crowdsource your bio: For the brave and well-friended, ask your audience to help you. Pick three colleagues (ideally, prep them ahead of time) and ask them to say one reason the group should know you....or one thing they should know about you.
  • Reflect your audience: Taking an informal show-of-hands poll of the audience is an excellent way to get your group's attention in many situations. If you start with a poll before you introduce yourself, you'll look confident--and can use what you glean from the respondents to share information about yourself, keying what you say about yourself to the group's mood and preferences.

And, as always, be brief and relevant. If you're speaking about an area where you have a particular experience, share it...briefly. Use your introduction to connect to your audience and they'll thank you for introducing yourself.

she's speaky: my upcoming speeches

A check of my calendar shows I'll be speaking in all sorts of places in the next month or two. Here's where you can catch me:
  • Saturday, April 18: At the DC Science Writers Association professional development day, I'll join a panel with speakers from US News & World Report and the Washington Post to discuss social media tools for reporters and communicators. Watch the DCSWA web page for updates.
  • Tuesday, April 28: I'm joining a panel to speak on how to engage bloggers in Washington, DC, for the National Capital Chapter of PRSA. Stand by for details on the PRSA-NCC website.
  • Thursday, April 30: I'll facilitate another in the Communicating Science series of workshops sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation, this time at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. Registration details are here.
  • Tuesday, May 5: I'm keynoting the annual meeting of the Construction Writers Association in Alexandria, Va., talking about social media and how it can help communicators as well as journalists.
  • Monday, May 11: Look for me in New York City, where the Science Writers in New York have asked me to speak on social media as a branding tool.

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