How To Create A Compelling 30 Second Self Introduction

Public Speaking Coaching Individuals

Be Short And Sweet

We live in a society with advert-length attention spans. You can grab that attention by creating a short personal ad also known as a 30 second self introduction. 

One of my bugbears occurs at functions when the harassed facilitator pleads: “Now we’ve got a lot to cover today, so please give a brief 30 second self introduction.”  Before long, someone grabs 4 minutes of “Me Me Time” at everyone’s expense.  A new trend begins of 4, 5, 6 minute mind numbing self-introductions.

I used to think such people were insensitive, selfish and can’t follow direction.  As a veteran function-attender, I’ve gleaned the true reasons for self introducers who rave and ramble. And that’s because they:

  • don’t know how to structure a succinct self introduction.
  • simply are so nervous about speaking, they blank out and ramble.
  • are totally unprepared and have no idea what they are doing there.
  • really are insensitive, selfish and can’t follow direction!

Key Benefits Of A 30 Second Self Introduction

  • Good First Impression – more work upfront means less work long term.
  • Less Is More – keep your words clutter-free will make you easier to understand.
  • Being Succinct – shows respect for other people’s time and this is always appreciated.

Most people want to get a sense of who you are and what you can do for them, before they want to know your name.  And if they are interested in what you offer, they are likely remember your name.  So think about Them first, not You, when you give a 30 second self introduction.

Introduce Yourself With Ease and Grace To

  • Quickly establish rapport and open a connection.
  • Give an ‘elevator” speech and create an opportunity.
  • Make a powerful impression that gets you noticed.

It’s a good idea to have a few self-intro’s up your sleeve, because you don’t want to sound like a broken record and because everybody, every situation and everyday is different. Here’s what to include in your little personal ad plus my examples:

1. Describe the benefit of what you do for others (not your title or process.)
2. Use visual, graphic examples to which people can easily relate.
3. Give your name.

Examples: Be Intriguing, Not Boring

  • ” I help people find their toes. I’m Wendy and I help people lose weight. “
  • ” You know how some people look 20 years older than they really are? Well I fix that.  I’m an anti-aging specialist and my name is Sammi. “
  • ” I’m the person that people call when the wheels have come unstuck in their life and they want to do something about it. I help people get back on track with a 12 week program. My name is Lou and I’m an accredited Counsellor. “

Be intriguing and not boring by creating your very own 30 second self introduction. Don’t forget to practice with a Timer and include smiles and pauses in the 30 second time limit. Grab those short attention spans before they pass you by.

© 2011-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only.

Comments · 6

    1. Hello Kasuma,
      thanks for your question. Although I am a public speaking coach I used to run a recruitment agency so I often provide job interview tips and training. Here’s some:

      1. Pretend YOU are the employer for this position. Really put yourself in their shoes. What would you ask a potential new staff member? How would you decide who is the best fit for the job? What kind of skills or attributes would YOU be looking for? Take .10mins to think about this and write some interview questions from this perspective.

      2. Now answer those questions you wrote.

      3. Come up with at least 2 practical examples that explain your answer. For instance, if it’s about dealing with a conflict situation, explain how you dealt with it in the past and what you learned from that. Don’t name names of course. Or if you’ll be asked about customer service skills, identify a positive example and the result you created.

      4. Next, practice answering questions out loud. This helps you to express your self fluently and logically.

      5. Aim to keep your answers at interview from 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length as an average guide. Keep soft eye contact with all interviewers. Thank them all and greet them all with direct eye contact. If you are not sure if you have answered the question with enough info, you can ask, ‘Would you like me to explain that further?” Prepare at least 3 intelligent questions to ask the panel. Questions which demonstrate that you are already putting yourself in the shoes of the new position. Think about, here I am in my first day on the job, what would I need to know? Future training? Policy and procedures, and so on.

      6. Breathe deeply before you enter. Slow down and take a breath every time before you speak. If you are nervous or your mind goes blank…just admit it. They will give you more time or paraphrase the question. Just be yourself, because who they really want to see, is you, Kasuma.

      7. Remember, your job is to help the interviewers CHOOSE YOU. So make it easy by researching and anticipating what they need to know. It’s usually very difficult to work who to hire, so do the legwork for them and demonstrate what a good fit you are to their organisation. Of course, you do want to work for them, don’t you? If not, leave now!

      Hope that helps. It is a huge question. Good luck with your interview. Best wishes, Geraldine

    1. Dear Heather,
      thanks for your email. I took a look first at your website to better understand the possible context. Lovely testimonials and your skills sound wonderful. I thought about your question for a few days. Now I’m writing my reply to you, I’m worried about the perfection of my grammar!

      Relate to Audience
      Whatever the first or second language of your audience, I have found that an effective and engaging self introduction is one that considers the audience first, the situation second and yourself as speaker, third. Always create your introduction from the shoes of the listener. What do they need to know about you that helps them understand you and your topic? How is it relevant to them? Find points of common connection regardless of culture. It could be as simple as everyone is wearing a heavy jacket and rubbing their hands together because it’s so cold or that your family were immigrants too and had to learn English.

      I find answering what I call “The 3 Unconscious Questions In Everyones Mind) to be most useful when putting together introductions because they are audience-centric and they follow the natural process of assessment that everyone uses.

      1. Who are you? (in other words, “how are you relevant to me?”)
      2. What’s In It For Me? (WIFM, in other words, what’s the benefit to me if I listen to you?)
      3. What do you want from me?(tell me what i have to do to get the benefit you are wafting in front of my nose).

      Body Language
      As you can imagine Heather if there is a language barrier, even if small, understanding one another is always paramount.So why not use your whole body to talk for you. The eyes process movement and vocal tone before words and grammar (because the brain has to interpret and break down into recognisable chunks). So, when constructing a self introduction, consider how you can SHOW your meaning, not just SAY it. That simple hand to chest, strong eye contact, pause, the words “I am Heather” is pretty universal. It also indicates without words that you are likely to be introducing yourself so it provides context. “I am a writer” (wave a prop in the air). And so on. English as first language audiences appreciate the simple clarity too. It really is just so much more interesting to communicate beyond spoken words for everyone.

      Speak more slowly (northern americans can be very fast. I love the Texan accent because it lingers and languishes and there’s lots of time to take it in which helps understanding.) Use simpler words of course which paint pictures. Who has a picture in their head when anyone says “uniformitarianism” or “process” or “organisation”??? Corporate speak is often a series of empty words. Think about how you would help a 10 year old to understand. Keep it simple. Everyone loves it.

      Dear Heather, I hope my suggestions help you. I have written an ebook (for people who hate introducing themselves & networking, not for an ESL audience) that you may find useful. Here is the link:
      Best wishes, Geraldine

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