Whether at the beginning of a new class or when joining a new club, students often find themselves suddenly having to deliver a speech to introduce themselves to others. While the first reaction may be to panic, in the book "If You Can Talk You Can Write" author Joel Saltzman states, "By writing about what you know---what you've lived through---you suddenly have the inside track on telling your story better than anyone." Quickly writing down a few key points before diving in goes a long way toward making an introduction speech appear seamless and creating a great first impression.
Start with a descriptive icebreaker. Using narrative and anecdotes will do more to engage listeners than cut-and-dried declarative statements. If your reason for getting up in the morning is music, describe those few moments before taking the stage to draw listeners into your experience. This helps them understand its importance.
Write down one sentence---a thesis---that communicates something about your character, a passion in your life or your goals. In her book "Business Communication: Process and Product" Mary Ellen Guffey advises, "decide what you want your audience to believe, remember, or do when you finish." Do not put yourself down, diminish your accomplishments or paint yourself as a slacker; instead, focusing on the positive helps listeners think the best of you.
Come up with key points to back up your thesis. If you say you are a go getter, think of two or three specific examples that back up that statement. According to "Essentials of Public Speaking" by Cheryl Hamilton, "The key is to give enough vivid detail that your listeners can picture the event." Saying you are a quick learner, for example, would not be as effective as sharing that you taught yourself a new language or computer software over the summer break by studying five hours a day from books checked out from the library.
Restate your thesis' controlling idea and summarize any supporting examples. Continue where the introductory narrative left off, such as describing the exhilaration of playing a successful show. Conclude with an upbeat statement that looks forward to the future, including your excitement about getting to know others, and contributing to and being part of the group.
Hit the main points quickly if you are given fewer than five minutes to prepare. Imagine what you think others might want to know. Writing down your major course of study, favorite classes, music, books and hobbies and including specific information about genres, titles, authors and instruments gives listeners enough information to identify with you in a positive way.
- If You Can Talk You Can Write; Joel Saltzman; 1993
- Business Communication: Process and Product; Mary Ellen Guffey; 2003
- Essentials of Public Speaking; Cheryl Hamilton; 2003
Marie Brown is a Nashville-based writer who has been writing professionally since 2004. She began writing instructional articles online in 2009, writing articles about writing, business, home organizing and childcare issues. Brown holds a master’s degree in English, a minor in writing and has an associate degree in early childhood education.