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Presenting without a Self-Introduction

3 min read

In many tech conferences and other events, we see a trend where the speaker rarely introduces themselves or even when they do, it is rather short (and sweet). Why does this happen? Is that a good trend or a bad one?

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The argument against doing a self-introduction is pretty simple. Today, we live in a different age. Information is always available at our fingertips. Before going to a talk, we can do a lot of research on the speaker. Right before the talk, there is always an opportunity to check their Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media. Even better, we can do that with a given context, whether it is related to the current topics of the day or with other speakers that we have known.

A minor variant of this approach is a very quick introduction, ideally in just a few seconds or less. It is thus important to come up with an introduction that is relevant to the audience. Something like “My name is Joe Sixpack, I work for Acme Corp” is less optimal as it does not give the audience any information as to why you are the best person to deliver the talk. It makes sense to switch to the style of “I’m Joe and I created Project Atlantis” if your talk is all about Project Atlantis. In the same spirit, it adds nothing if you ramble for minutes and minutes, enumerating your various achivements and other open-source projects, if those are remotely relevant to the presentation.

Of course, what would help is to establish a good online presence. Some people in the audience look you up on Twitter (and perhaps start following you). Others will Google/Bing/DuckDuckGo your name and take a quick look at your personal homepage. A few will probably want to know what you have posted on your Instagram. In all cases, it is very helpful for your audience if those sites give a faithful representative of who you are, what you like, and other informations related to the subject.

Obviously, this is all moot point if there is a moderator who is introducing you. In that case, I have seen that many presenters skip their self-introduction since usually the introduction from the moderator is already flattering and you do not want to spoil that.

What about telling the audience about your employer? I believe flashing the company logo or mentioning it quickly in passing is sufficient. If your talk is fantastic, there will be a lot of follow-up discussions and this is usually the best moment to tell more in-depth stories about your company or your start-up.

It is common nowadays to be in a conference where the talk is only 20 minutes, give or take. Therefore, every minute spent introducing yourself is a minute worth of another good material for your audience.

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