Are you ready for a season of social gatherings? It’s that time of year!
When hosting or attending an event at any season, those who most contribute to a positive ambiance are the ones who mingle easily and help others feel they belong. Since facilitating warm introductions can make or break a gathering’s success, such skills are worth honing at any age.
Consider the following A-to-Z tips for helping people get acquainted in a social setting:
A. Introduce by seniority—age or rank—in that the less senior individual is introduced to the more senior person. Grandma, I'd like for you to meet my roommate, Mary.
B. Traditionally, age raises one’s rank above the other if the age difference is significant.
C. Traditionally, if the introduction is between a man and woman, the woman receives the introduction before the man.
D. Familiarity is another criterion. Introduce the person with whom you are less acquainted to the one you know better. Bob [brother], I’d like to introduce you to George [new neighbor].
E. Use simple, polite introductions.
- X, I’d like you to meet Y
- X, may I introduce you to Y
- X, please meet Y
- X, may I present Y
- X, I’m so happy for you to meet Y
- X, I’m pleased to introduce you to Y
F. Begin the introduction by first stating the name of the person who’ll receive the introduction. (See examples.)
G. Include last names. [Introducing Bob to Mary] Mary, let me introduce you to Bob Smith.
H. Continue by introducing the other person to the “senior” individual. Bob, I’d like you to meet Mary Jones.
I. Turn to the person and look at him/her in the eyes as you say his/her name. Bob [looking at Bob], I’d like for you to meet Mary Jones [looking at Mary].
J. Introduce people by their preferred names.
K. Use appropriate titles and references. Jason, please meet my father, Bob Smith. Dad, I’m pleased to introduce you to my boss, Dr. Jason Carson.
L. Teach children and work subordinates to use respectful titles. Even if you’re normally on a first-name basis with the senior person, set an example by choosing the more formal address for the individual. Dr. Carson, I’d like for you to meet Emily Albertson, our new intern. Emily, this is Dr. Jason Carson, director of our research department.
M. Don’t force formalities. Among friends and peers, titles are often unnecessary. Lynn, after all this time, I'm so happy to introduce you to Fred Adams, our family dentist. Fred, meet Lynn Black, Bobby's pediatrician.
N. Offer context for each person’s identity. Amanda, I’d like to introduce you to Laura Smith, my dear friend and co-chair of the charity auction. Laura, please meet Amanda Collins, the portrait artist you and I have admired.
O. Introduce one person first to a small group so that you get their attention from calling them individually by name. Name each one slowly so that the newcomer can grasp their names. If the main group is large, break it down by taking the newcomer around to meet people individually or a few at a time. Amy and Paul, I’m pleased to introduce you to Linda Watson, who supplies our wonderful promotional products. Linda, please meet Amy Smith and Paul Jones, our top sales agents, who are primarily responsible for depleting our inventory of shirts, hats and tumblers so quickly!
P. If two or more seem in deep conversation or in the middle of a story or joke, wait rather than interrupt and avoid hovering too closely or appearing to eavesdrop.
Q. Get the conversation going but allow people to speak for themselves. Dr. Carson, Emily is a rising senior at your alma mater.
R. Strive to steer individuals towards those with similar interests and mention their commonalities. Both of you are avid hikers.
S. Don’t leave a person uncomfortably stranded with an individual or group. Bob, if you’ll excuse us, I want Mary to meet Amy before she leaves.
T. Don’t be pushy. You two should have dinner this week.
U. Don’t create negative expectations or otherwise color an introduction by offering unnecessary personal assessments. Just to prepare you, John’s sense of humor is weird.
V. Don’t disclose private information about people. Please don’t mention your daughter’s upcoming graduation and fantastic job offer. Mary’s son recently dropped out of college and works only when he feels like it as a pet sitter.
W. Don’t spread gossip before, during or after the introduction. We’re all convinced that George and Amy have a little romance between them.
X. Offer only pertinent, appropriate insights to prepare an individual for an introduction. Emily, the next person you’ll meet is Dr. Carson, the gentleman in the black suit. He often asks a lot of questions because he’s naturally interested in people.
Y. Know when you may walk away so those you've introduced can continue getting acquainted. I’ll let you two continue your conversation while I catch up with Susan.
Z. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, such as when a person is ready to mingle on his or her own or simply move on.
Children and adults benefit from practicing their introductions. Friends and mirrors both supply great feedback. If the introduction is a big deal or part of a formal event, preparing a little script or simply thinking ahead to consider what one could and should mention often makes everyone more comfortable because the facilitator shows poise and speaks appropriately.
The introduction, however, shouldn’t appear overly rehearsed, and it will seem that way if the facilitator fails to pick up on personal cues or won't go with the flow of the conversation. The polite formalities should give one confidence to break the ice, not cause everyone to stiffen up!
My best to you,
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady
Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at www.writelady.com.