Making a good first impression is crucial. Studies show that we can grab someone’s attention and make a memorable first impression within only 8-12 minutes. Therefore, it is necessary to know what messages you are going to deliver and how. Barbara Borowitz Garland, an executive communication coach, was invited to be our first guest speaker of fall semester, she provided insightful advices regarding effective introductions to our career ambassadors.

Here is what I learned from her speech.

Making a common link between the speaker to be introduced, your audience and yourself.

When you are assigned to introduce someone in a meeting, it is essential to meet the person beforehand so that you know more about the person about his/her role and experience in a more comprehensive way rather than only based on the information you obtain online.

While talking to the speaker, it would be better to briefly describe the status quo of the meeting, meaning that you need to let him/her know what the audience are, and what connections between the speaker and your audience have. For instance, you can start saying things like “We are career ambassadors at the University of Delaware aiming to help UD students to achieve their career goals. Your speech will help us to make a precise introductions to student groups when promoting career services center.” In that case, you simply make a common link between you, your audience and your speaker, which also helps the speaker be clear about what information he/she is going to say during the meeting that will be more useful to target audience.

Last but not least, when you are ready to introduce the speaker to others, don’t forget to introduce yourself first. This is a very important part of introduction as well. Even though the leading role in the meeting is not you, you still play a significant role in linking all parties together.

Know your key messages.

One of the tasks in CAP summer challenges is to learn to make your own 30 seconds commercial. When introducing yourself to employers, you want to make sure all you say in 30 seconds is relevant to either your skill sets or your goals. Here is where key messages come into play. During the workshop, Mrs. Garland asked each one of us to introduce ourselves clearly to others with three key messages, including your name, major, role and your personal goal. This exercise helps us to think deeply and thoughtfully about what we want to say in order. I think key messages are like a system of information where messages are pre-selected and prioritized, which is also an amazing part of communication, isn’t it?

One thing to remember is that whenever you talk to different audience, your key messages need to be modified. The messages you delivered to employers is not going to be the same as those to student organizations. Even when you interact with the employers in different industries, the messages conveyed are constantly changing among various circumstances. So next time, make sure you are prepared before talking to them.

At the end of the workshop, we all commented that making an effective introduction takes time to think and more important, to practice.

What is your opinion on the art of introduction? Feel free to share your insights.