This is a story about how I'm terrible with introductions and how I'm going to fix that.
I was at a conference recently. And before the conference a group of attendees got together to form a sort of mastermind group. We were there to talk about business problems and I was really excited to be invited to this group.
Since most of us didn't know everyone we started with introductions. And the host asked us to share our name, where we live, and what we do. Pretty standard stuff right?
Well as I was listening to other people introduce themselves I started going through my introduction in my head. Do I share this detail? Is this job title too boring? Should I be funny? How funny?
My palms started sweating and I was only one person away. I pan the room as all of the eyes turn to me. It's my turn. And here's the pile of garbage that came out of my mouth.
I'm Patrick Rauland from Denver Colorado.
Off to a good start! I said my name & where I love correctly! This introduction is going to be amazing!
I'm not the smartest guy I just make a lot of mistakes.
The host mentioned that we were all smart people which was why we were invited and I tried being humble and making a joke about it. It probably would have been funny if I pulled it off. But if you don't well you feel like not the smartest guy.
I used to do a lot of stuff with WooCommerce. So yeah that's what I'm doing now.
And when I finally said the most important part of the introduction I totally flubbed. I still don't have a solid definition for what I do. It's a bit of a challenge because I don't do one thing. But what came out of my mouth was terrible.
What Other People Want
I almost always struggle when someone asks me what I do. Part of it is because I do so many different things. But the other part is that I don't want to bore people. I want to give people enough information so they can ask follow up questions if they're interested. But I don't want to drown them in technical jargon they don't know or care about.
And while I think it's polite to think about your audience. That doesn't mean you should dumb it down as much as I did.
When you remove anything that could be boring to someone else you miss the opportunity to connect with people who do find it interesting. So you have to straddle that line. You do have to give people a fuller picture and maybe they have no idea what you do. Or maybe they do and they ask you to work with them.
Redoing My Introduction
I was so mortified by my introduction that as soon as it was someone else's turn to go I scribbled it down in a notebook. I've been staring at it for the past couple weeks and I'm finally as a place where I want to redo it. And here's what I came up with:
Patrick is an eCommerce Educator. He creates easy to learn courses for LinkedIn Learning / Lynda.com. He's written books about eCommerce, he organizes conferences about eCommerce, and he's the co-founder of Lift Off Summit – an online event designed to help new store owners get their store off the ground.
When he's not working Patrick goes running & collects toy soldiers.
And when I introduce myself in person it's slightly different:
Hey I'm Patrick Rauland from Denver Colorado. And I'm an eCommerce Educator. I create courses for LinkedIn Learning & Lynda.com. I write books about eCommerce & I put on online events about eCommerce as well.
This may change at some point but I think it only takes a few seconds so it shouldn't bore anyone. And I've added enough hooks so people can dig into any part that they find interesting.
I don't know if it's just me but when I'm on the spot my mind goes blank and I can't describe what I do. That's why I'm going to practice this even when I don't think the person knows about anything about eCommerce.
Sometimes it seems that introductions and elevator pitches should be easy to craft if we weren’t so “dumb.” In my experience, they are hard-earned and take constant iteration. I’m constantly working to overcome the same challenges you’ve faced. It’s a work in progress.