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Feb 10

How to Present Yourself to the World

By Priya Kudva, WSU Vancouver Neuroscience student

It’s a Friday night. You’ve been invited to a social gathering where you are told your potential new boss is attending as well. In a frenzy, you whip up an eloquent 1-2 minute speech elevator-pitch graphic-Priyaabout who you are and what you do. You memorize it and in a flash, the moment has arrived, and they ask you who you are and what you do. Panic ensues, and your palms start to get sweaty as you start to stutter over your once perfectly memorized words. Right before you feel like you are going to pass out, you manage to mumble out your name and what you do. Dread creeps in as you realize that you’ve probably just made the worst first impression ever. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and here are some tips that can help you make the best impression.

Breathe

Speeches that are 1-2 minutes long, otherwise called elevator pitches, are all a matter of pacing yourself. Forgetting what you want to say because of your nervousness wastes both your and your audience’s precious time. Breathing, especially deep breathing, can quickly eliminate the majority of your nerves in just a few seconds. In those few seconds, your mind can “reset” and can allow you to recollect yourself to start off strong.

At the same time, saying everything too fast can overwhelm your audience with information without allowing any of the important facts about you to sink in. Forcing yourself to slow down and take a breath, especially after a significant fact about you, can drive that point home and make it easier for it to stick in your audience’s mind.

Speak with Confidence

Once you have dispelled your nervousness, it’s time to speak. No matter your audience, confidence is appealing! Not everyone starts out confident…some people talk to their shoes, mumble, or fiddle with their hands. it’s time to fix those problems!

  1. Establish eye contact. Eye contact is the best way to say, “I’m talking to you, so you are important, but so am I.” Keeping that eye contact through your speech can also allow you to analyze your audience’s responses and even allow you to respond appropriately.
  2. Speak up. People often mumble when they don’t want what they just said to be heard. This is exactly the opposite of the point of an elevator pitch. Therefore, speaking up and allowing every word you say to be heard can make you look more steadfast and energetic. And let’s be honest, social gatherings can get a little noisy, too.
  3. Steady those hands or give them a job. When we speak, we often focus too much on what we are saying and too little on what our body is saying. Twitching hands and feet can send an unintentional message that can be interpreted negatively. However, that doesn’t mean that you should shove your hands into your pockets, which we often do when we are nervous. Your body is meant to be an expressive tool to emphasize important points. So allow your arms to show your enthusiasm, allow your face to show your excitement, and allow your body to relax and throw away that nervousness so you can crush your next elevator pitch.

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