Making Those Introductions a Little Less Awkward
If you’re anything like me, those opening introductions at the start of a new semester, class, or club can be a little anxiety-inducing. You want to make a good first impression and it can feel like how you introduce yourself will set the tone for how people think of you for the rest of your time together. No pressure. But it doesn’t have to be such an intimidating experience. Keep in mind, everyone else is probably just as nervous as you are. Relieve some of that pressure knowing that it isn’t the only interaction you’ll have with these people.
Luckily, most new groups have been moving away from the “What is a fun fact about yourself?” question as an ice breaker. Is it just me or does hearing that question make every interesting thing about yourself jump right out of your head? Most of us just resort to what sport we play or if we have a dog, even though the question seems to expect some jugglers or multilinguists to announce their skills. Still, those facts could be a great way to make yourself stand out if you have them.
I prefer the more casual route most of my class introductions have taken. We share our names and majors, of course, but then just end up talking about some personal interests. In my Science Writing class this semester, we made a shared Slides presentation. Each person “decorated” their slides with pictures and images that made up who they are and their main interests. Granted, a lot of us still ended up talking about our dogs, me included, but it was more fun getting to see pictures of the dogs than just talking about them. Plus, by describing each of the pictures and what was happening in them, most people went on to tell a story about themselves. Having our interests up on the screen sparked a lot of conversation: apparently a lot of my peers are into horror movies (sorry, guys, can’t relate to that one). Some of us also connected on similar music tastes. The end result is that everyone seems more comfortable in class. Discussions are less stiff and lectures turn into conversations. It feels more like a room of classmates than it does just “people in my class.”
Having a similar interest is a great way to make fast friendships at the start of a new experience. In the first meeting this spring for Arcadia Christian Fellowship, we played a game called “Soulmates” as a way to introduce ourselves. One person would stand and name random things they liked. If you also liked that thing, you stayed standing. The game ends when only one person is left standing with interests in common. A friend of mine was shocked when I sat down for not liking Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but we, of course, both stayed standing for liking to travel. It might have felt a bit silly, but it was a great way to become more familiar with everyone and what we shared in common with each other, even with someone you’ve already met.
It’s a good idea to have some of these fun introduction ideas in mind if you’re leading a group. Helping everyone be more comfortable during an experience that tends to be nerve-wracking is a great way to relieve tension and give everyone a chance to know each other.