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They’re Just Not That Interested in You

Many training programs begin with an instructor introducing themselves and sharing their history with the organization or expertise with the subject to be learned. There are several difficulties with this traditional approach.

You already are the expert. The common participant assumption is that you are the trainer because of your expertise. There is no need to validate that expertise. The very act of validating can send an unintended message that the trainer lacks confidence their own abilities.

Your self-introduction wastes critical minutes.
The first 10 minutes of any program are the most likely to set the mood and be remembered. Talking about yourself squanders these precious moments on noncritical content.

Your self-introduction places the emphasis in the wrong place. Your subject, not you, should be the focus of the program. You are the captain steering the journey. You are not the journey.

Your history makes you sound old. How many years did it take to build up all those accomplishments, accolades, and awards? Long-winded histories can remind your attendees of grandpa reliving his youth.

Your trainees are required to listen. During the program, you are the boss. This almost guarantees rapt initial attention. Rapt attention is not, unfortunately, the equivalent of focused learning. In any work situation, when the boss enters the room, everyone becomes keenly aware of her presence. The boss gets attention whenever he wants. Her observations are listened to. His jokes are laughed at. When you are the boss, you should be keenly aware of this tendency and use it to focus like a laser on the subject being taught.


Attendee minds only have so much space for memories of your event. Long-winded introductions squeeze out space for information of real importance. Learners likely won’t remember it anyway.

Your learners have other things on their minds—family difficulties, work challenges, financial burdens. You are not foremost. Nor frankly, is your history. The sooner you get to what learners need to know, the better. 

What do you think about instructor introductions? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below.

© 2017 ATD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Lenn Millbower is a Disney speaker, presentation skills trainer, and author. He received his bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music and his master’s from Webster University. Millbower was honored by the Walt Disney Company with the prestigious Partner’s In Excellence lifetime achievement award. This internal employee award was granted in recognition of his training and leadership accomplishments as a member of the opening training team for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He is a national board member of the International Alliance for Learning and the Contract Trainer’s Association, and a member of the National Speaker’s Association and ASTD.
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