There are several opportunities to introduce ourselves to others. However, there has to be a measure of preparation to help you feel confident whenever you need to introduce yourself when asked to or when you need to. Why do you need to learn effective ways of introducing yourself when? Sometimes you feel nervous when you meet someone new, but learning how to nail your introduction would help you to make a great first impression.
What should be the first thing to say when asked to introduce yourself? Do say a greeting. Depending on the situation – formal or informal – you could say good morning (afternoon or evening) or hello. In Nigeria, it is common for people requesting you to introduce yourself to expect you to be formal; however, there are also informal contexts where you have to greet informally by simply saying ‘hello’ or ‘hi’. Do not use such greetings if they offend people’s cultural senses. You want to pay attention to age differences as culturally provided – in Nigeria, for example, it is thought offensive to say ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ to an older person; ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening Sir/Ma’ would be more acceptable, especially in very formal contexts.
The next thing after a greeting is to say your name. If it is a telephone introduction you could say, ‘Hello, I’m Ruth’ – the contracted form is great – or ‘Hi, this is Ruth’. Some have a preferred name they’d like to be called, so they say, ‘My name’s Ruth but my friends like to call me Ruchina/ I prefer to be called Ruchina’. Next, say where you are from. You could simply say, ‘I come from Imo State’ or ‘I’m from Imo’ – the contracted form always sounds relaxing rather than stiff; you could also say, ‘I’m Nigerian’ – use the right adjective to describe where you are from (imagine someone say, ‘I’m Nigeria’ – that’d be incongruous!).
You may sometimes decide to give more information by saying where you were born and where you currently live, for example – ‘I was born in Lagos, but I now live in Calabar’; ‘I was raised in Calabar, but I now live in Lagos’; ‘I’m originally from Imo State, but I live in Lagos State’. Feel free to switch things up and see what works for you in terms of the story you are trying to tell.
If you are introducing yourself to a new neighbour, you may choose to limit your introduction to information about your family; if at school, you could share your course, hobbies, or whatever else interests you – perhaps a bit too about your family. Just be sure not to bore people with too much information.
Another thing to add to your introduction is to say where you work or school. You could say ‘I work at Pan-Atlantic University in the Institute of Humanities’. Maybe you also want to talk specifically about what you do, for example, I work as a lecturer of English at the Institute of Humanities’. Kindly watch out for the right prepositions to use in these introductions. You work ‘at’, not ‘in’, an organisation, but you can delineate it to the unit ‘in’ the organisation – as in my first example in this paragraph. You may talk about your previous experience by saying, ‘I have 15 years’ experience in sales’, or ‘I’ve worked in accounting for three years now/I’ve worked in the accounting field for three years’. Students can say ‘I’m currently taking a course in media studies’ or ‘I have completed a 60-hour course in media studies’.
Perhaps you would also like to show off your language skills by talking about your family. You could say something like, ‘I’m from a family of eight’, or ‘We are a family of eight’ rather than ‘We are eight in my family’ – which is a much common expression people use in response to the question ‘How many are you in your family?’ You could say, ‘I’m one of six siblings’ instead of ‘I have four brothers and one sister’. If you have no siblings you could say, ‘I am an only child’. A single parent may say, ‘I’m a single parent’; ‘I’m a single mom – I have twin boys: they’re five year-olds’.
Would you want to talk about hobbies? Then you could say, ‘I really like tennis playing/playing tennis’, ‘I’m a big fan of football’, ‘I’m a keen footballer’ or ‘I’m keen on skiing’.
How about talking about how old you are? ‘I’m in my early forties’ or ‘I’m in my mid-twenties’ – are expressions to use when you do not want to be so precise about your age. Some say with respect to others, ‘She’s a 20-something year-old graduate of English language’.
What if you are asked to give a fun fact about yourself? That may not be an easy thing to do! So think about something that shows weirdness, strength, or something that people do not know about you. That way it’s easy for you to pull through when people ask you about it.
In the academic space, when you are asked to introduce yourself during an interview – oral or written – it helps if you do not go into so much details about personal stuff like family and all. What is expected is that you talk about your interests in the academic sphere – your degrees, achievements, goals, career plans, projections, and a lot more on how you fit the role and would be the best hire.
Now, how do we put this together? I’ll use my example of a simple introduction, not an academic one.
Hello there. My name’s Ruth and I’m a 40- something year old educator of English at the Pan-Atlantic University. I was born in Lagos, and I have lived here all my life, save for my visits to other states for schooling purposes. I’m from a family of eight, and I have five amazing siblings. I’m married and I have two beautiful boys – 15 and 13. I love reading, singing, and cooking, and I am keen on writing. Many people don’t know it that I’m fascinated by well-spoken and intelligent people and that I love to bring people up to speed in their speaking and writing. May I meet you?
Go ahead and share with others a simple introduction of yourself. With lots of practice you get so good at conveying basic information of yourself. Write it down if you must, and keep reworking it until you become absolutely comfortable with it.