How are you doing?
As an English learner, you need to regularly converse in order to practice and improve your proficiency. For this reason, you’re bound to introduce yourself and engage in small talk on many occasions. Self-introduction is one of the simplest and most basic tasks when learning a language, yet it can cause pressure or anxiety.
Even the classic “how are you” or “how are you doing” may trigger a little panic.
These phrases don’t really require a deep reply. It’s the equivalent of a greeting in most cases. “I’m good, thank you.” or “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” are both acceptable answers. The trick is being friendly enough to avoid speaking in a robotic tone and relaxed enough so you don’t sound too enthusiastic. Since you’ll use these expressions a lot, in time you’ll get better at your delivery.
A running joke for many English language learners is the overused “I’m fine thank you. And you?” They’ve learned and parroted this a lot during their early years of English education, and so they say it automatically and without emotion. What’s funnier is they don’t even wait for a response. They start to walk away or focus on something else before they can even finish the phrase.
Unfortunately, this is still widely taught as a standard answer in English training. So if you’re one of its victims, you would do well to erase it entirely from your vocabulary. Unless you’re making a funny point, which can be a great ice-breaker.
When you’re getting acquainted with someone in informal situations or a social event or interaction, the conversation doesn’t end with a greeting and telling someone your name. Obviously, the language is different when you’re introducing yourself to your classmates or doing a speaking activity in an English class. The language also changes in formal situations such as presenting yourself in a job interview or mingling with people at work.
This article covers different scenarios where self-introductions are required. Read along for great ideas on how to do them properly and how they work in actual English conversations.
Introducing Yourself in Casual Interactions
It’s a well-known fact that in many Western cultures, it’s common to make small talk, which is a polite discourse about trivial matters as a way to pass time. This could happen between strangers at a bus stop or the doctor’s waiting area. Or between acquaintances bumping into each other at the market or a party. Or even close friends who haven’t caught up with each other for a while.
For many native English speakers, it’s quite natural to engage strangers in a short conversation when they’re out and about, which isn’t necessarily expressing a desire to pursue a relationship. It could, however, lead to making real friends.
Despite the reserved cultural identity of some English learners, they’ve adapted a similar persona when using English. Introducing yourself to someone new requires an entire conversation to follow. It’s an excellent way to meet other people and open the possibility of starting something deeper. Here are tips that would serve you well in these situations that could open a door to a real connection.
5 Tips on Making Small Talk
Introductions in casual conversations are straightforward. After the initial greetings and niceties (and a handshake if the situation calls for it), you proceed with your name.
“Hi. I’m Paul.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Vy.”
It’s what follows that needs a bit of finesse.
1. Break the ice
This expression means inviting someone to get to know each other better or get the conversation going. Breaking the ice involves asking discreet questions such as “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing?”
Let’s assume you’re interested to make small talk. You should respond and ask a question as well. You can also give a compliment. Find something about them that you like but avoid talking about their physical appearance.
Paul: How are you doing today?
Vy: I’m fine, thanks for asking. Is that your motorcycle?
Paul: Yes, it is.
Vy: That’s a very nice color.
2. Prepare for Possible Questions to Ask and Answer
You don’t have to get involved in a heavy discussion right off the bat. Keep it light. Always prepare a few answers about yourself and questions suitable for all kinds of situations. You may ask about someone’s flight if you’re at the airport. Or about the film version of a book if you’re at the bookstore. Avoid asking questions that are too personal unless the other person opens up relevant information.
3. Listen, Comment, and Ask Follow-up Questions
To really get the conversation going, listen to the person’s answers and offer a sympathetic or encouraging comment. Then follow up with a related question to continue the thread.
Paul: Which places did you visit today?
Vy: My friends and I went to the Emerald Temple and did a boat tour of Taling Chan.
Paul: That’s very interesting! I heard they have a floating market.
Vy: Yes, it was amazing! You should see it if you have time.
When making empathetic responses, make sure you’re doing it appropriately and with the right emotion. You can’t say “That’s incredible!” if you’re talking about salad. Unless the salad in question is particularly great.
Here’s another thread:
Paul: Where are you from?
Vy: I’m from Vietnam.
Paul: I see. Is the weather as hot as here?
Vy: In the South, pretty much. But I’m from the North, where we have winter.
Paul: That’s fascinating! I had no idea.
4. Exit with Grace
Awkward silence is dreadful. End the conversation politely if it has died down, or you have nothing more to say, or there’s no common ground for you and the other person to connect with, or you genuinely have to leave the place. You can give a reason or make an excuse if you want to. Here are some useful expressions to end an interaction. A few you can use on their own, and others you can combine.
- I’m afraid I have to get going. + reason (e.g. I have to find my friend. I need to go to the store, etc.)
- I hate to leave, but there’s somewhere I need to be.
- It’s been good/lovely/great talking to you.
- I’ll leave you to it, then.
- There’s something I need to do. Have a lovely time.
- Sorry but I have to go, can I leave you my card/email address/etc.?
- Enjoy your time.
- I’ll see you around.
- I’m afraid it’s time for me to go. Do email or message me. Perhaps we can catch up later.
Make sure you actually leave the place when you say you will. Don’t just move to another table! You can use body language to signal the end of the conversation or tie it up nicely with a handshake.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Many ESL students aren’t confident English speakers. The main thing that prevents them from speaking is their fear of making mistakes. The thing is, you won’t get far on your language journey if you don’t talk. Stumbling along the way is part of it. Practice the phrases you’ve learned so far and you’ll be prepared when you meet someone new and talk to them.
Try to be proactive and initiate the conversation yourself. The person you’re talking to can be a fellow English language learner, which means you have an instant connection. In the best-case scenario, you’ll have a memorable moment of helping each other express your thoughts, which can probably lead to a real friendship. And if you meet a native speaker, they’ll understand your language limits and will give allowances for it. Also, remember that the most welcoming gesture is to smile.
How to Introduce Yourself in Professional Settings
In professional situations, there are two types of circumstances that need self-introductions. First, you have office interactions or networking events. Although small talk is necessary under these conditions, it’s not the same as a normal conversation. Second, you have job interviews or corporate meetings. This situation calls for a presentational introduction style. Even so, it’s different from presenting yourself to your teacher and other members of your English class.
Professional introductions assume a formal tone. Your grammar has to be impeccable and your choice of words has to be well-suited to the context. It belongs in the realm of Business English, which is a specialized attribute of the English language involving business-related communication. First impressions matter as they can make or break a business relationship or cost you a job opportunity. Needless to say, you can’t come unprepared.
When introducing yourself to a client or colleague, here are some phrases you can use:
- I’m Daniel Jenkins from the San Francisco office. Nice to meet you, Mr. Manning.
- Good morning, Mr. Manning. I’m Daniel Jenkins from San Francisco. It’s a pleasure meeting you, sir.
- It’s great to finally meet you, Mr. Manning. My name is Daniel Jenkins. I come from the San Francisco office.
Small talk at professional events will revolve around careers and work backgrounds. Ensure that you don’t talk too much and answer in detail only when asked. A good rule of thumb is a one-liner that summarizes your credentials. However, you need to prepare for potential questions that can follow. If you’re at a business meeting or conference, you will receive questions relevant to the event. You don’t need to disclose your entire work experience in one go. You can reveal this information later in the conversation when it’s more suitable. Here are some examples of one-liner summaries:
- I work for a law firm in Chiang Mai.
- I’ve been working as a tour guide since 2015.
- I’ve been working as a senior programmer for Kloon Solutions for the last 5 years.
- During the last 10 years, I’ve been in charge of overseeing our flagship store in Brisbane.
Remember to reciprocate. After giving your career information or job status, remember to show interest in others by asking similar questions. You can ask the following:
- What do you do for a living, Mr. Manning?
- What about your Mr. Manning? Do you have any experience in marketing?
- I’ve heard you work as a … for … Is that right, Mr. Manning?
Some tips for small talk in casual settings are applicable to professional ones: listening, replying with the proper expressions of empathy or sympathy (such as “That’s impressive!” or “I feel the same way. But on the positive side, work takes me to a lot of interesting places.”), and asking follow-up questions to encourage a longer interaction (e.g. What an interesting venture! I wonder if it would work in the Southeast Asian market”).
The final points are to prepare and practice. You can take note of how professionals introduce themselves in movies and TV shows. There are also video resources online about the topic. Additionally, you can check more articles about Business English on our blog. For practice, you can mimic how native English speakers deliver professional sentences and questions. You can check your intonation and pronunciation by recording and listening to yourself. Furthermore, you can consider using an English language learning app like LillyPad.ai to improve your Business English vocabulary skills.
3 Samples of Professional Introductions
In your career, you may need to deliver different types of self-presentation. The following samples are for common professional settings where introductions are needed. You can study the framework and use it as a template for your own practice and application:
1. For a job interview
My name is Joanne Lee. I’m a graduate of Santo Tomas University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Education. For the past 10 years, I’ve lived and worked in several Asian countries to teach English as a Second Language. I spent 3 years in Thailand, 3 more in Vietnam, 2 in China, and 2 in Japan. I’ve been working mainly with adult learners and teaching both General and Business English.
During my time in Southeast Asia, I was working in a freelance capacity, providing language solutions to companies from different industries. I design my own curriculum, which involves a detailed process of needs analysis and research. As a teacher, I’m open to new perspectives and knowledge, which makes me highly trainable and an effective team player. I care deeply about the progress of my students and give them practical material that they can use according to their objectives. I’m confident that this attitude will translate to the same quality of service in your company.
2. For networking
I’m Karl Tooke and I’m the marketing director at Artland Tech. We’re planning a massive advertising campaign designed to engage locals and tourists in Bruma and the Greater Emerald Quarter. I’ve been enlisting the support of local enterprises and SMEs to collaborate with us and join our activities. I’ve been talking to residents in the area, picking their brains about the possibility of adopting a region-wide festival, and have enjoyed every conversation. For the most part, the response has been very receptive, and I would love to hear your opinion about backing our plans.
3. For a presentation
Good morning. My name is Jacob Gamboa and I’m the VP of External Affairs and International Linkages at Riverside University. Cultural exchange programs have always been a passion of mine. There’s something about the merging of various cultures that facilitates a deeper understanding of the world. It also creates a great opportunity for sharing knowledge and establishing a profound sense of community.
I believe that supporting schools and local government units in their endeavors to have a wider reach internationally has meaningful implications for our future. At Riverside, we began outreach opportunities five years ago with support from the city and have succeeded in instituting school foundations in Taiwan, Thailand, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Today I aim to convey the advantages of creating the same programs in your school.
Self-Introductions for English Students
When introducing yourself in a class or during a speaking activity, you need to give specifics about your personality and personal life. You can try and be creative about the way you describe yourself. While first impressions aren’t everything, the first time you introduce yourself is the basis on which others connect with you. It doesn’t mean you’ll need to do a deep dive into your innermost thoughts and desires. Talking about inconsequential or trivial topics is enough. A self-introduction shouldn’t be extensive, but long enough to offer a solid understanding of who you are. After introducing the basics about yourself (name, age, birthday, a non-specific address), you could include 3 to 5 subjects you can share a few details about.
13 Topics to Add to Introduce Yourself Better
Here’s a list of general topics you can indulge your teachers and classmates:
- Hobbies – I like to paint. Mostly, I paint nature scenes whenever I have some spare time.
- Favorites – My favorite ice cream flavor is a combo of cashew and pistachio. It’s divine.
- Likes & Dislikes – I like all kinds of music, except techno and traditional. Right now I’m listening to a lot of alternative musicians.
- Animals – I like cats, but I’m more of a dog person.
- Personality – I’m quite open-minded and friendly. I love learning about people.
- Goals – I plan to work in the medical field.
- Travel – I haven’t traveled abroad yet, but I want to visit New Zealand in the near future.
- Fears – I’m really scared of movies about ghosts. I’d still watch them but there will be a lot of screaming.
- Role Models – My role model is Christin Ha. She inspires me to be a chef and more than that, she’s taught me that anything is possible.
- Leisure Activities – I like to hang out with my friends and just chill. Anywhere is fine as long as I like the people I’m with.
- Life events – We moved to the city only last year, so I’m still trying to build my social circle.
- Occupation – I’m currently working in an IT company as a software tester.
- Expectations (in class) – I’m looking forward to making some friends and improving my English skills with them.
Using LillyPad.ai to Improve Vocabulary And Conversation Skills
If you’re serious about achieving great progress with your English skills, you should consider using a language learning program. The best and most affordable English language learning app in the market is close at hand. LillyPad.ai has tons of resources and many interactive features to strengthen your vocabulary and enrich your skills in conversation. We use learning materials that utilize real-world language use that cover a broad range of topics in General and Business English.
Vocabulary is best learned through reading and we have a huge library of books, lessons, and activities to help you advance through English language levels. Our team of ESL experts is behind the design and methodologies integrated into our platform. Furthermore, our members have their own personal page where they can save their favorite materials and track their progress.
Self-introductions are necessary to start a conversation, present yourself in a professional setting, and participate in English classes or speaking activities. There are different language requirements for each situation, which normally alternate between formal and informal communication. There are many ways to ensure that your introduction is robust and engaging, without being longwinded and tedious. In casual situations, introducing yourself to someone entails a short conversation.
Meanwhile, introducing yourself in job interviews or business presentations needs to include facts about your career background, your current job, and other relevant information. In an English class, extending minor details about personal topics will help you connect with the class and foster a sense of belongingness.
Frequently Asked Questions
The strategy of putting a time element on a speaking exercise is a common situation for teachers to assist a student’s progress. 30 seconds is fairly short, a primer, and normally given for beginner and intermediate-level students. This kind of practice can also activate and build up conversation skills. “Can you tell the class something about yourself?” is a common question. More personal questions may follow until the teacher is satisfied, especially if the student has a lot of pauses.
To accomplish this task, start with a short greeting and your name. Then share information about your personal life. Review this article for potential topics you can talk about. The answers don’t have to be more serious than they need to be. Talking about three topics and giving at least two details for each, should allow you to express your personal introduction in half a minute. Remember that the time limit doesn’t mean you have to speak fast. Talk at your own pace, with reasonable pauses in between to give yourself time to think.
Sometimes, English language teachers like to see their students suffer. Kidding aside, 3 minutes may seem short, but standing in front of a class with all eyes on you and talking about yourself for that amount of time can feel like an eternity. Breathe. Introduce yourself and do the same things recommended in the previous question.
This time, however, details regarding the topics you’ve chosen have to be fuller and more expansive. Share events from your own experience so that you can talk more freely, feel more relaxed, and generate ideas naturally. In theory, you can even just touch on one topic and share an entire story. The 3 minutes will pass by breezily.
To illustrate how to expand on a topic, read on: “Hi, my name is Nicolette. I’m 23 years old and currently studying architecture at St. Agustin College. I especially like the gothic influence on architecture. It’s so beautiful and unique. If I have the chance to travel, I’d like to go to France, where gothic architecture was born. I want to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine.” If you dedicate the same amount of detail to each topic you’ve decided to talk about, 3 minutes shouldn’t be too difficult.
This is a basic question, but quite tricky. On most occasions, it doesn’t really warrant a “meaty” answer, especially if you’re talking to an American. A simple “I’m fine, how are you?” is an adequate response. If you want to pursue a longer conversation, a more encouraging reply would invite more insight into your current condition or situation. Answers like “I’m pretty good.” and “I’ve had a rough week.” offer an opening to a lengthier chat.
The best way is to listen and show sincere interest in the answer of the person you’re talking to. To show this, offer expressions of sympathy, empathy, regret, encouragement, etc. Look at the following examples:
That’s great news!
That’s too bad.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Oh my god, that’s awesome/wild/remarkable/awful/etc.!
Then ask a follow-up question to the answer you were given. Or ask another question related to the topic. Or open a new topic entirely. Make sure the disparity isn’t so large and the transition is smooth. You can’t ask about car parts when you’ve just been talking about spaghetti!
It depends on the purpose of the introduction. Casual conversations don’t require introduction lines. However, in a professional setting such as a job interview, there’s a framework you should work with. First, is to introduce your name, educational attainment, and current job status.
Next is to talk about your job experience. You can start with the length of time you’ve worked somewhere, your job description, and the things you’ve learned. After that, you can talk about your abilities and your job ethics. Perhaps include the reasons why you’re applying for the job. Try to include a skill or information that lets you stand out such as the number of languages you speak, the countries you’ve been to, your other talent, and so on. A self-introduction shouldn’t be too long. 1 to 2 minutes should be enough. The answers you’ve prepared beforehand would be useful in the later parts of the interview when the appropriate questions come up.
If you’re doing a self-introduction for an English class, review the segment of this article dedicated to the topic. We’ve listed 13 topics you can add to your presentation, but you can think of others.
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