“My Name is Carlton Nettleton…

November 25, 20082 min

“… I have been with the company for about a year and I am an Agile coach helping people improve their software products by focusing on communication and collaboration.”

is just about the worst way to do introductions in a big group setting.  Why?  Well, think back to the last time you were in a situation where you were asked to introduce yourself to a bunch of strangers…

  • If you were the first person called on, you probably were struck dumb at first; the total deer-in-headlights experience.  When you finally did speak, you felt tongue-tied and probably did not know how much detail to give, when to stop or what the facilitator was even asking.  Of course, once you were out of the spotlight you knew exactly what to say quickly and succinctly, but there no second chances for first impressions.
  • If you were some where later in the order, you probably were relieved and then had that “Oh crap, I’m next” feeling.  Instead of listening to what the other people ahead of you were saying, you probably spent that time thinking about what you were going to say, likely drawing a blank until the person next to you started talking, getting very nervous until you blurted something out.  In effect, short circuiting the introduction process.  Once finished, you likely were thinking “That was OK, but it least it was not bad as hers”.


Next time you need to do introductions try this short exercise of pair interviews as a much more meaningful and rich format for introductions:

  1. Ask people to form pairs with a person they do not know\normally work with.
  2. Allow people 7 to 10 minutes to interview each other and take notes if needed.
  3. After the timebox is complete, ask each person in the pair to introduce the other.

The pair interview exercise does not put people on the spot, allows people to gather their thoughts and then to showcase themselves as the interesting and accomplished people they are.