The Best Way to Introduce Yourself

The way you present yourself through your introduction can determine how memorable you will be to any stranger.

While there are people who enjoy mystery, having a concrete introduction for yourself will make others feel closer to you early on. Pick out a few adjectives to describe yourself, and narrow down your favourite thing in every category of preferences. Sort out all the interesting facts about yourself, and have it ready to go if you ever need to amaze someone. In this post, I’ll list ways in which people usually go about self-introductions, and analyze their effectiveness.

In most group-introduction scenarios, everyone plays an icebreaker game for a more interesting way to become familiar with each other.

The most basic, common icebreaker is to say your name and one interesting fact about yourself. There are a variety of answers you can gather from this icebreaker, but eventually you’ll be able to organize them into general categories. What you have to understand is that your actual answer to this question isn’t important, and most people will forget your answer after the introductions are over. What will stick in their mind is how you went about answering it.

First would be the people who have a very boring answer to the icebreaker question, or no answer at all. They might say “I don’t know… I ate breakfast today.” The clear problem is that this is in no way interesting or memorable. Even elaborating on what their breakfast was, especially if they ate a foreign or delicious meal, would be an improvement. Sometimes there are people who simply refuse to give an answer, and all I can say to this is– why? It isn’t difficult to say something like “I like reading” or “I like music”, or something general enough that everyone can relate to. If they push with more questions — what’s your favourite song? what’s your favourite book? — you can even answer with a title that sounds foreign and say that it’s not well-known. This is definitely the least effective type of introduction. Imagine that there wasn’t an icebreaker question to answer. How would these types of people even go about starting casual conversations?

I have been friends with some people for over 5 years and still feel like I don’t know much about them. I know about their personality; I know how they’ll react to news, and I know how to respect their happiness. But I don’t know their favourite colour, their favourite animal, the type of people they’d date, their favourite ice cream flavour… Because they “don’t have one”.

Sidenote about “favourites”:

It’s really, really difficult to choose a favourite. That being said, you should always have one ready anyway. When a new person asks what your favourite book is, for example, they
usually just want to see if you two have anything in common so that they can initiate a conversation. Sure, to some extent, your “taste” might bring you judgement, but even that could spark a great discussion about why your opinions differ. If your favourites change on a daily basis, that’s still ok. When someone asks for your favourite song, rather than answering with your favourite piece of music of all time, it’s easier to just list a few songs that you’ve been into recently. This happens all the time when meeting someone who watches anime. They’ll tell you their number one anime — probably Naruto or Full Metal Alchemist — but you might just want a casual discussion about something that’s airing that season, like Orange or Assassination Classroom. Think about it this way: if someone insults your favourite thing of all time, you’re going to get defensive. So at best, you can have a conversation in which both of you gush over your love for one thing. On the other hand, talking about something less admirable allows you to criticize, compliment, and analyze it from many angles.

Otherwise, when a friend asks you for your favourite thing, they’re really trying to get to know you better; probably to make you happier. For example, say they want to buy wrapping paper to wrap your gift in a colour you really like. It can be disheartening to hear “I don’t have a favourite colour”. Even if you actually don’t have a favourite colour, you’ll make the friend much happier by giving a concrete answer like “red”. What if you say you don’t have a favourite story genre? It adds a level of stress on your friend to have to guess what you’d like. Perhaps your friend will buy you a book about politics and you’ll find out that while you don’t know your favourite genre, you now know the genre you don’t like.

Can’t choose a favourite song? At least put your music on shuffle and say the name of the first song that pops up. Even that would be more interesting than “I can’t choose what my favourite song is.”

Next would be the people who use this opportunity to say a skill or talent that they possess. That can be an interesting fact too! Saying “I can wiggle my ears” or “I can do the worm (dance)” and demonstrating to the group will fascinate everyone and it will probably stay in their minds, because wiggling your eyes is indeed a strange and random skill. Otherwise, skills that are just really impressive will also give you a memorable impact. Being able to speak several languages, playing a sport professionally, or being able to sing well. If you can manage to say “I play seven instruments” modestly, that will give you an amazing impression and you’ll have somehow managed to turn an introduction scenario into a prompt for others to respect your abilities.

Sidenote about extracurriculars:

Extracurriculars are always interesting: either you respect someone for dedicating so much time towards something, or you have that activity in common and can relate. The situation in which you introduce yourself to others in a semi-professional setting is usually involved with academics or the workplace. So arts and athletics usually are uncommon.

Exploit your hobbies. If you play a sport, mention it, and you’ll easily make friends who might even challenge you. If you do an art, mention it! It’s common to subconsciously associate someone with their hobby. Even if they don’t remember your name, they’ll remember which club you were in.

Finally, there are the people that mention crazy, random things in their introduction. “I was born on Leap Day”, “I was peed on by a lion in Africa”, “I have a twin”, “I’ve lived in every country in South America”, and “I once shook Park Jimin’s hand (cue intense jealousy)” are all things that I’ve actually heard in introductions. Those are awesome because it gives you an opportunity to spend more time talking (explaining your story, since people will doubtlessly have questions). If you can pull off the extra attention well, then you’re set. Use the extra time and questioning to establish your personality and demonstrate the way you speak. This is just a really fun way to do introductions, and this is probably the proper purpose of ice-breakers: to make people interested and amused by you.

The purpose of an introduction is to present yourself to another person in order to form an acquaintanceship. Personalities are complex and impossible to fully describe in the limited time given for an introduction. So how do we create an effective introduction for ourselves?

Think of a book, or movie, or anime, or anything fictional. How are the characters introduced? Usually, only a few character traits of the character are exposed upon first meeting them. You might immediately see that the character is a stereotypical “dangerous rebel”, or maybe an “aloof genius”. Try getting out paper and making a list of your character traits. It’s going to be a very, very long list, because humans are complex beings. Now circle two or three. Those will be the three traits of your “character” as you make your entrance into the story of a stranger’s narrative.

The easier you are to understand, the more familiar you will seem to a stranger on the first meeting, and the more frank they will be with you. On the other hand, being ambiguous is also intriguing. But in your average professional situation, you usually want to portray yourself as someone who is trustable (assuming that you are actually trustable). And everyone would see how the “open” character is more trustworthy than the “mysterious”, “unknown” character.

Spending time with someone doesn’t mean you’re learning about them. It doesn’t mean you’re getting closer to them. Building that sort of relationship requires an active effort.

Introduce yourself. Make people want to know who you are, because you are someone. But don’t undervalue yourself by making yourself boring.

Become interesting!

My third post was definitely inspired by volunteering as a conference leader and having delegates who had nothing to say about themselves. Perhaps they were just very secretive? But does it even make sense to keep things like your favourite classes secret?

I hope this doesn’t seem hypocritical, considering my own introduction mentions little to nothing about me. We usually don’t read the author’s biography before reading a book, anyway. But maybe you’ll learn little facts here and there if you continue to read these posts.

Please leave a comment with your opinions! How would you introduce yourself in a way that stands out from the norm?