It is your intro, make sure it counts
First impression matters, and should be memorable. This is why and how.
“Hi everyone, my name is Tom,” said the new joiner “this is my first week here, I used to work for X as a senior product designer, and before that, I worked at Y. I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to work with you all”.
A week after another new joiner, Josh, opened with: “Hi everyone, as I’m sure we will have plenty of time to get to know each other professionally over the next few months, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as a person, rather than a job title! I’m a proud, gay black man, something that’s taken me a good 10 years to be able to tell you today.
I believe in two powers, God and dance and I’m blessed to be able to practice both often and at the same place. I’m also a strong advocator for mental health and for treating the workplace as more than just a place of work…” and he carried on while everyone listened in awe.
Josh managed to grab everyone’s attention and left a footprint in their memory, making his introduction stellar and EPIC (something we will explore later).
But not everyone does that.
More than a LinkedIn profile
How many times do you get to be the new person in a company? Once. You are “new” only once. And you get this one chance to introduce yourself to the whole team while they are, out of interest, giving you all their attention. These are the same people you’ll likely have daily interactions with for the rest of your time at the company.
Yet you let this singular opportunity pass by so immemorably.
I’ve seen this happening on all levels of new joiners from a C-level to junior members. And from all types of extremely introverted to extremely extroverted people.
“My name is X. I used to work for Z company, and I’m so excited to be here”, isn’t all of that on your LinkedIn page?
We may want to learn how to pronounce it, but we can all see your name, we probably know where you worked before, and we probably can guess that you’re excited.
So instead, why don’t you tell us something we don’t know? It is your chance to introduce yourself to us. Who you actually are. As a human being, as a person, and not just as a co-worker. Sure, we’re probably slightly interested in where else you’ve worked, but as humans, we’re really more curious about what makes you.
If you want to make this moment memorable, here is how.
Dan Heath, in their book The Power of The Moments, suggested four ingredients to harness the power of a memorable moment. EPIC: Elevation, Insight, Pride, Connection. You don’t need to hit all of them in one strike, but the more the merrier.
“Moments matter. And what an opportunity we miss when we leave them to chance!” — The Heath Brothers
Here is what they mean by the EPIC ingredients:
- Elevation. Those are moments of unique experiences, they break the script, they are anything but mundane, they are engaging, amazing, exciting, and energising.
- Pride. The moment when you feel your chin lifted and your shoulders broadened. And it is when we recognise others or get recognised, when we display courage and show vulnerability, and feel the power of that.
- Insight. Those are specialised in creating realisations and understanding, they are best when least unexpected (i.e. when you trip over the truth).
- Connection. Moments of togetherness, oneness, warmth, empathy, and validation. When we cement our ties with others.
Making it memorable
So, back to our newbie introduction. To make this moment memorable. To leave a footprint in your audience’s mind, I believe, you can sprinkle a bit of each of EPIC ingredient on those five minutes you have by simply presenting the human being you are.
If you do so, you will be breaking the script by introducing something unique and new. You will be forming a connection with your colleagues by being open and showing vulnerability. You will certainly give them an insight that is new to them. And finally, you will finish your speech with an uplifting moment of pride.
Don’t introduce yourself as the person who’s doing role A or B. Instead, tell them what matters to you as a person, what are your likes and dislikes, and what made you who you are now. Show them your true self.
They don’t really need to know your name, they will see that everywhere — it’s probably at the bottom of the Zoom call window you’re using to speak to them on.
Do tell them how you would like to pronounce your name, if there’s a story behind your name or middle name, or what are your preferred pronouns actually (e.g. is it a He/Him or She/Her, or They/Them…etc.) — Read more about pronouns and their importance here.
Before you start talking think about using this time in the best way possible, because it is not going to happen again, you won’t get another chance to introduce yourself to the team and to have their undivided attention to hear what you’re about to say about yourself.
Mind you, humans tend to remember the first few items (experiences, people…etc.) in a sequence better than any of the others, which is referred to as Primacy Effect by psychologists.
“When one is making judgments of others, first impressions are more important than later impressions. […] Thus what someone first sees, hears, or reads about a person tends to serve as a primary reference point or anchor for later judgments, so that later judgments are overly influenced by a person’s initial judgment. In essence, first impressions count”. And your intro is one of our early experiences of you, and it is you who decides the level of primacy of your first impression on us.
Take this opportunity to be vulnerable and open, this will bring you closer to them. It is more important now than ever before given the current circumstances we are operating under.
It’s your opportunity to come across through that screen and be with those people. Touch them, let them see the great person that you are and what made you that person. Tell them about your history, your culture, and your experiences.
About the things that truly matter to you, what you care about and what you are passionate about. It is all about your identity. and identity is a complex concept, and it encompasses a wide suite of things that all together form who we are.
You don’t need to share everything in one go, maybe not ever, but opening-up about a certain precious aspect of your being and your identity is essential in making your moment memorable.
One good thing, you could say, about the pandemic, is that it’s shattered the artificial walls we’ve spent decades building between our home lives and our work lives — all whilst we acknowledged that we spent more time with co-workers than our families.
Over the years we all became the product our environments and kept carrying that environment with us between our jobs. It is about time we change the environment as we move along between companies.
Working from home forced us (or most of us) to open up. You’re calling your colleagues on a video call from your living room, your kitchen, or your bedroom.
Your kids are running around, shouting, jumping in the back and being cheeky in front of the camera. Your dog jumps on your lap or your cat walks over the keyboard where we see the fluffy tail blocking the camera. This became the new norm.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
We are now, more than ever, in each other’s lives. Isn’t it about time that we feel comfortable enough to let people in? To let others, know who we are? At the end of the day, we are not machines, not yet at least.
So, go on now! Go and grab that moment and make it EPIC!