One of the very first English lessons you learn is how to introduce yourself.
But how do these lessons stack up (compare) against what happens in the real world?
Below, I’m going to go over all the English phrases you need to meet someone new. We’ll talk about how to introduce yourself in English in both informal and formal situations—even if you’re a complete beginner.
The easiest way to break the ice (start a conversation) is to just say “Hello, I’m [your name].”
Amy: Hello! I’m Amy.
The other person will say:
Brian: Hi there! I’m Brian.
If the other person initiates (starts) the conversation, use this phrase to answer them.
You can also break the ice with time-dependent greetings like:
To introduce yourself in English, give a little bit of information about yourself.
For example, in an informal context, saying where you’re from is a good conversation starter.
In a formal context, like a job interview or meeting new co-workers, you want to have an elevator pitch . The reason it’s called an “elevator pitch” is because it answers this question: if you only have one elevator ride (or 30 seconds) to introduce yourself to a business associate, what would you say?
Let’s have a look at sample elevator pitches from our two friends, Amy and Brian:
They can also say something like:
See? These statements may be short and to the point, but they’re impactful because they go into the important details right off the bat (immediately). If you have any impressive qualifications (like Amy’s 15 years of experience with Select Magazine), introduce yourself with those.
Once you’ve gotten the basics out of the way, you can go into a little more detail. You want to answer the question, “What makes you different?”
In an informal context, you can talk about your interests:
In a formal context, you can summarize your skills, experiences and other things that make you stand out from other professionals:
Brian: I used to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I got to work with the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law. I think this experience has improved my legal research skills tremendously.
No matter the context, it’s important not to lie or exaggerate (make something look better than it really is). Give the basic facts, plus a little bit of your opinion as well.
Although talking about yourself is important, you should let the other person talk as well. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it also gives you a reason to keep the conversation going.
The safest question to ask someone you’re meeting for the first time—whether in a formal or informal context—is:
People will usually respond to “How are you?” with “I’m fine, thank you,” though you should expect other answers about how they’re feeling or doing.
Here are some other questions you can ask:
Another great way to keep a conversation going is to compliment the other person. This means finding something you like about them and talking about it.
Just be a little careful when choosing what to compliment about the other person. Avoid discussing permanent characteristics like someone’s physical appearance, accent, etc. because it can really come off wrong. They might be offended or think it’s too forward (overly friendly).
Instead, try these compliments:
Remember the questions we talked about in Tip #6? Make sure you know how to answer those questions as well.
Even when questions are specific (asking for detailed information), you can prepare a general response—i.e., an answer you can use in almost any situation.
Your answer can follow this template:
Brian: How was your trip?
If you aren’t confident in your English skills, it’s much easier to listen to the other person.
Pay attention to the answers from your first questions, and ask for more details. People love to talk about themselves, so this won’t be a problem.
Here’s a sample conversation with lots of follow-up questions.
Amy: How are you?
Amy: Ah, why is that?
Of course, you aren’t going to be talking to the other person forever. At some point, you have to end the conversation.
If you have nothing more to say, or you’re not connecting with the person you’re talking with, you need a way to leave politely. Otherwise, there could be a lot of awkward silences.
Here are a few key lines for leaving politely:
As you say these phrases, hold out your hand for a handshake, making it clear that you’re ending the conversation.
English conversations don’t only involve a lot of talking. They also involve the use of nonverbal expressions to communicate what you mean.
Here are examples of body language used in English:
Remember that not all body language is appropriate for every situation. You need to familiarize yourself with how English speakers express themselves without words by watching authentic conversations on a platform like FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Before you meet someone new or go to a professional event, it may help to practice possible conversations as much as you need until you’re comfortable and happy with your answers.
It’s hard to know beforehand what a conversation will look like. But you can be prepared for the most common situations! The more comfortable you are answering the basics, the more confident you’ll be when the conversation goes somewhere you didn’t expect.
Here you have a final example of a conversation between Brian and Amy. They’re at a marketing convention, and they just got to know each other thanks to a mutual (common) friend:
Mr. Standford: Glassdoor, can you imagine?
Brian: Sounds amazing.
Mr. Standford: Brian, did you know that Amy knows Bill Gates?
Brian: Really? Impressive!
Brian: Sounds amazing…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run. It’s been lovely talking to you about how to introduce yourself in English!
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
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