Choose your self-presentations carefully, for what starts out as a mask may become your face.

Erving Goffman (1922–1982)
Canadian sociologist and psychologist

Coming to a new group of people you want to know who you are dealing with. And especially you as facilitator or moderator want to know your audience. So time for the participants’ self-presentation.

Different approaches of self-presentation

The most common and most boring

The most common and the easiest – and thereby the most boring – introduction of participants is the self-presentation: Each participant tells who he or she is, what she does. At least, the should add why the attend the event. Thereby you can directly use it to clarify expectations. 

Guiding question

You can spice it up, with a specific question added, perhaps related to the event. For example: Did you ever experience…? It shouldn’t be something embarrassing, as most participants won’t be ready to talk right in the beginning of it (view Five Stages in a group process). Unless you sense that this is okay for this group. Then, of course, the question “What was the most embarrassing moment in your life and why?” could be memorable. It will set the tone in terms of open vulnerability and frankness in discussion.


You can also inspire yourself by the normal (=offline) icebreakers and consider whether they are suitable to transfer them into the online world.

Or choose on of the icebreakers below for a more inspirational and fun way to familiarize each other.

What to pay attention to during self-presentation

As facilitator of a workshop or event you set the tone for the rest of the joint time by the self-presentation. As this too much of a standard let’s better have a look for a more interesting and fun introduction. Furthermore, extroverts (especially hedonistic ones) tend to speak a lot, while introverts would rather shy away speaking of themselves. Because this form of introduction is in the beginning, the way you how

  • handle the time (is it 2 min sharp or flexible up to 10 min after you said 90 seconds?)
  • treat participants equally (more friendly to one, harsh to the other)
  • balance contributions (does 90 sec apply to everyone)
  • order participation (will be always from left to right, then I can sleep as the last one a little…)

will be decisive for the atmosphere and discipline of future contributions.


A round of self-presentation can suck up a lot of time. So, calculate before. If you have 12 participants and each of them speaks for 3 min, you have incl. transition time about 40 min gone. That’s okay in a two-days seminar, but not in a 90 min digital workshop.

Once I also did a mistake in coordination talks. While we had 20 participants, which turned out to be correct, another eight contributors added up to it. Of course, they also had to introduce themselves, and suddenly we were including me 29. That ruins any time calculation. So, be aware how many are there in total at the entry session. Presenters or speakers coming later you’ll introduce them at the start of their session.

You might also consider the following ones:

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