Introducing Yourself from the Stage
Picture this: you're backstage, listening to the host read the speaker introduction that you provided. If all goes well, that introduction establishes your credibility - the impression that you are an expert with proven results who can be trusted to deliver.
Now, it's your turn to get up on stage and introduce yourself. And you have two goals - to continue to build your credibility but also to show vulnerability.
Let me be clear, vulnerability is not self-deprecation. You're not diminishing yourself. You're showing your heart. You're giving people a way to connect with you, to see you as a real person, to see that you're just like them. That way, they'll start to realize that if you could be successful, they can too.
Build It Quickly
You want to show that vulnerability and build that credibility in the first 5 to 10 minutes of your talk. You don't want to take a lot of time with it, but it's absolutely critical because we buy from people that we feel connected to and trust to deliver.
The beginning of your talk has to be strong, so you need to get comfortable quickly and get on a roll. Here are two ways to do that:
1. Arrive early. Getting to the event early gives you the chance to settle in, absorb the mood of the event and take advantage of opportunities you would have missed had you not been there. Just below, I'll tell you about an experience that I had!
2. Open with humor. If it comes naturally to you, opening with humor puts you at ease and establishes rapport with the audience. Laughing together is a great way to connect quickly.
So, I was at an event early, where the two men speaking before me each brought out family photos and very movingly talked about how their kids were a big part of their turnaround and, with teary eyes, shared how much they missed them. Of course, that melted the hearts of the mostly women in the room.
That event was the first time that I'd been away from my kids for three whole nights since they were born, and when I heard those stories I recognized the opportunity. I tossed what I'd planned to lead with and instead got up there and said, "Ladies, I think these guys are so sweet and it's awesome that they love and miss their children. So I hope you don't find me insensitive when I tell you that I couldn't get on that plane fast enough! I have four days on the West Coast and I'm like, "Woo-hoo, no kids!" Everybody cracked up, laughing.
The men's stories warmed their hearts, but everybody related to mine. In that moment, I became someone they liked, knew and trusted. And I would have missed that golden moment had I not arrived early and paid attention.
Show Vulnerability with a Story
After a quick ice-breaker like that, I generally move pretty quickly into my vulnerability story, which also conveys credibility.
When you're looking for your story, you want to tap into what got you from where you were to where you are now and how that journey qualifies you to be facilitating transformation. Ideally, your target audience has experienced or is now experiencing what you went through. That way, again, they'll relate to you, but they'll also have more trust in your ability to facilitate for them the same transformation that you went through.
I often tell the story of how The Invisible Close came out of when I used to teach women how to understand men. I so wanted every woman to have that understanding that even if 60 out of 100 women registered, I'd go home and literally cry about the other 40, who didn't make the choice to do the amazing workshop I was offering and transform their lives. It's a good story because it shows that I was closing up to 60 percent, so my credibility is there. But it also shows that I have a heart and that I'm not just up there to be selling; I stumbled into my expertise around sales conversion because I was passionate about women understanding men.
If you can do the same, show that you are a real person with expertise and a heart, who can be trusted to deliver, you will have everything you need to generate sales AND transform the lives of many people. And at the end of the day, for me, that's a winning hand!