The Speech of Self-Introduction

This is a new section I wrote for the new edition of Essentials of Public Speaking. But I thought it might be of use to anyone planning a similar speech. Here, then, are a few guidelines and a sample speech with some notes.

The Speech of Self-Introduction

The speech of self introduction is one of the standard speeches normally required in a public speaking course. It is also a speech that produces a great deal of anxiety—not only because it is normally given at the start of the semester but also because it puts the total focus on the speaker. This assignment is often used to create a community within the classroom so that students get to know one another as individuals as well as to begin applying the principles of public speaking. But it is also a speech that would be given in your bid for student election, to your new work colleagues, or in your introduction to your podcast or webinar. Usually, the speech is for 2 to 5 minutes and consists of a few hundred words.

Guidelines for the Speech of Self-Introduction

Here are a few guidelines for the speech of self-introduction.

1.     Even if the speech is for 2 minutes, it still needs its major parts—introduction, body, and conclusion.

2.     Most students are fearful of public speaking so consider whether you want to bring this up. The advantage of talking about it—even if very briefly—is that you bond with your audience. The disadvantage is that you alert your audience to look for signs of nervousness and may even help to convince yourself that you are and will be forever fearful of public speaking.

3.     Stay within the time limits. These have been established so that all can give speeches within a certain amount of time.

4.     Focus on topics you have in common with other students—for example, your major or intended major, your academic interests, your outside interests, your job, your professional goals, and perhaps what you hope to get out of this public speaking course.

5.     Tell your audience what you want them to know. You do not have to reveal your inner self and should not feel pressure to do so. Reveal only what you want to reveal.

A Sample Speech of Self-Introduction

Here is a sample speech of self-introduction written to illustrate some of the essential guidelines for an effective speech. It’s written to represent what a student might say in introducing himself or herself to the class. It would naturally be very different if it were an introduction to your webinar where you’d want to perhaps emphasize your credibility. This speech is 367 words and would take approximately 2 minutes to deliver.


Hello, my name is Pat Smith. Not a very distinctive name; in fact, Smith is the most popular surname in the United States with over two and a half million Smiths.

A simple opener with some “essential” information about you is one way to introduce the speech. Don’t spend time needlessly on elaborate introductions. In longer speeches, the introduction will naturally also be longer.

I thought I’d tell you a little something about where I came from, why I’m here, and what I hope to do.

In such a short speech this orientation may not be essential but it does tell the listener how you’ve developed your speech.


I come from the Bronx, New York—where, by the way, in 1973 at a birthday party on Sedgwick Avenue—not far from where I grew up, hip-hop was born. Of course, it’s also the home of the Yankee Stadium. So, being out here in a small town--this is my first semester at Blake—is really very new to me. No skyscrapers, no Starbucks on every corner, no subways, no delivery trucks waking up the neighborhood in the middle of the night. But, so far, I’m liking the change. Everyone has been very friendly and my classes all seem interesting—a lot different from high school.

Here the speaker displays a positivity about these new experiences, probably shared and appreciated by many listeners. The speaker also reveals a little-known fact—about hip hop—that the audience is likely to find interesting.

I’m taking this course because I want to lessen my stage fright and become more comfortable in front of an audience. My dream is to become a defense lawyer and I’ll need to be able to speak comfortably and confidently to persuade a jury. Of course, that’s a long way off. But I’m planning nevertheless. I hope to declare a joint major in communication and political science and then, hopefully, get into a good law school.

Talking a bit about why you’re taking public speaking is often interesting to include. Hearing the reasons from different students is sure to illustrate the broad range of applications there are to public speaking and could probably benefit other students to see these different perspectives.

Right now, I want to get to know everyone and to join the photography club. I hear it’s excellent and I’m looking forward to going on the annual photography safari. This year it’s in Iceland.

Again, the speaker is extremely positive and talks briefly about his future plans.

Outside of school, you can find me at Mickey’s Burger Joint, flipping burgers and sometimes waiting on tables. Some of the customers are really difficult.  Some customers ask for things we don’t have and then get annoyed because we don’t have them.  Some are in a hurry and want their burger right away and some are undecided and take forever to decide. But most of the customers are really nice and I actually enjoy going to work—at least most days.

Since many students also have jobs, you may want to mention your employment.


So, I’m new, I’m anxious, and I’m looking forward to a great time at Blake.

In such a short speech, the conclusion must also be short but crisp and definite. Let the audience know that you’re finished. If you wish you can add a simple “thank you” or “I appreciate your attention.” But, in any case, be brief.


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