It’s the conference season again and I need to confront my monster again: I am horrible at introducing myself.
In academic settings, it is almost essential to introduce oneself. Even a PhD student would be able to come up with a quick, 3-sentence introduction like: Hi! My name is XYZ and I am a PhD student at the Communication Department of blah blah university. And I research what-so-ever interesting research topic A and so-much-so-intersting research topic B.
I can’t. Everytime I’m asked to introduce myself, my brain goes blank. And then there will be a lot of philosophical questions or even movie quotes (mostly from Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club). And then I am questioning what my research interests actually are. And then I don’t know what to say after saying my name and also my job title, both of them are fact.
I could also say what my recent papers are. They should reflect my research interests, right? But there are so many topics there as well. And in most of the time, I was just the analyst in those papers.
I could say something like I am an R programmer or even C++ or like “I write research software”. But I am actually not as enthusiastic as many R users to call themselves “R addicted” or “R aficionado”. Am I entitled to say I am so? I don’t have that passion eventhough I write R like every single day. I’m rather addicted to caffeine than to R. Look at the usage statistic of my R packages, they are not famous. Why (f**) bother? Also, do the people asking me to introduce myself know what R is?
I could say something not about my professional life. But is it appropriate? But also, my non-professional life is bland like eating a piece of cardboard paper.
Also, my oral English is not as good as you can imagine. Thus, I often stammer while I introduce myself. The most basic skill of academic survival.
Further reading: Academic conferences: a survival guide for introverts