How much ‘about you’ is too much?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to introduction segments in presentations.

The first school proposes the presenter must earn the trust and credibility of the audience as to why they are the expert in the topic to follow. If you don’t earn their respect, the audience will stop listening. You’ve lost them at hello.

The second school follows a philosophy that is influenced by the 7 habits of highly effective people. That is you must first make sure the audience knows you understand their problem and their situation before you begin. First seek to understand, then to be understood.

Which of these schools do you follow when you present? Which of these presenters do you want to watch?

I witnessed a webinar recently where the presenter took 25 minutes explaining why he was an expert. He lost me about 10 minutes into the presentation for many reasons, but mostly because he talked too much about himself.

I’ve experienced other calls and presentations where the presenters started to talk about what to do – the solution to a problem (i.e. 10 steps to a better ____) without even identifying themselves or their audience.

Neither of these was effective.

There is no one answer that will fit every situation (remember – context!). But I do believe there is a solution that includes a mash up of the two schools.

  • First you or your host introduces you in a short 5 minute or less segment.
  • Second you acknowledge that you know your audience and their situation.
  • Third, throughout the presentation you provide first person experience and accounts to build credibility.

Knowing your strengths, your audience, and the context will determine the message structure.