Here’s a little conference speaking tip: don’t introduce yourself.

Nobody cares who you are or what you’ve done. At least, not yet.

Don’t get me wrong. By the end of your mind-blowing talk, they will care. They will want to get to know you better. They will want to follow you on Twitter and Link you In and buy you a beer and hire you and write an epic poetry cycle about you.

But don’t open by introducing yourself. Open with a joke. Open with a story. Open with a Big Problem.

Save the intro for once they care.

Published by Avdi Grimm

3 Comments

  1. Yes! This is one of my presentation pet peeves.

    Basically there are 2 possible scenarios. The one you mention where the audience don’t really care who you are – or the other one, where everybody already know who you are. An introduction is not what they are there for in either case.

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  2. Similar to this occurs when validating ideas: if you developed a new software, draw comics, or build a new robot, avoid tell others that you did. If you can do this, then you can collect better feedback.

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  3. I said exactly this once on Twitter, and caught a lot of flack for it. Very shortly afterwards, I gave a talk where “who I am” (or rather, “who I was”) turned out to actually be pretty relevant to the narrative, so I did drop a bit of intro and personal history (even though most attendees at a Node.js conference probably already knew who I was) https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3685/presentations/compassionate-communities/index.html

    I agree 100% with your comment, about 80% of the time. If your talk is about realtime communication between mesh network drones and internet-connected candy machines, whatever, I don’t care who you are, show me the demo, and THEN I’ll look you up, or maybe I’ll just look up your GitHub project because that’s what the talk is about.

    But for those talks where you’re talking about something deeply personal, sometimes it’s worthwhile to share at least the select bits of yourself that are relevant to the story you’re telling. Listing off your resume is SOOOO BOOORRRRINNGGGGG, and people do it ALL THE TIME and it’s just a waste of air. Tell a personal story, and get just personal enough to make it stick. Save the resume for job interviews.

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