Before the event
1. Write you bio ahead of time
Tend to forget everything you ever knew about yourself when someone asks you to talk about yourself? You are not alone. Try sketching out 2 - 3 short “go to” sentences about yourself so that you don’t draw a blank. Keep your bio on hand next to you. You don’t want to script the conversation, but having a starting point to help get you warmed up ain’t a bad thing.
Example: “My name is Tom, I’m currently living in Ireland but have always wanted to live in hotter climates. I work at a creative agency today, which can be SO busy. At the weekends I love to chill out and spend time with friends - tell me about you?”
2. Tell your story, not your elevator pitch
Shift your mindset from feeling like you need to “sell” yourself to the other person. Focus on telling them a small part of your story. We’ve dropped some suggestions below, but the key thing is to make it your own.
Start with your name and how to pronounce it (if it’s one of those Irish spellings 😉 )
Something that reflects something that is happening in your life and how you feel about it: This is my first time attending an event like this and I’m feeling a bit nervous but excited to try something new. // I’ve been trying to read one book a month and learning a lot, I’m currently reading… // I’m currently working freelance and really enjoying the freedom but sometimes getting new clients can be stressful.
What are you doing in work today versus what you would rather be doing etc - what did you put in your intake form?
Something you love to do more of.
3. Check your matches ahead of time
Take a few moments pre-event to look at who your match is. You will see a short bio based on their intake form as well as links to their social channels. Think of some things you’d like to find out about them or perspectives, skills you could impart or share with them.
If you struggle to focus in the heat of the moment, keep the Profiles deck on screen during your matches so it’s easy to grab pointers to jump off from.
[Side note: Sometimes we have to reorganise matches due to people dropping out last minute but we will always let you know.]
DURING the event
4. grounding exercises.
Whether it's nerves or excitement [more here], if your breath is starting to speed up and you’re starting to feel sweaty, the below exercise can really help bring you back to the present moment.
This is a really simple exercise to bring you back into the present moment by using your breath, heartbeat and senses. This exercise can help you tune into your body to take the attention away from any stress or anxiety you might be feeling.
5 things you see
Quickly notice first 5 things you see, take note of each by tapping on the desk, or listening to the sound of 5 breaths.
4 things you hear
Next, take note of the first 4 things you hear?
3 things you can feel
Explore 3 things you touch. Are your feet cold? Is your chair stiff? Feel your clothes on your skin.
2 things you can smell
Hone in on 2 different things you can smell like your shampoo or your laundry detergent.
1 thing you can taste
Finally, notice a taste. It could be your cup of tea, chewing gum, or your last meal.
5. Regulate breathing. In for 4... out for 6...
Nervous or not, breathing is great! It’s always there, we might not think about it often but focusing in and being conscious of your breath can have a big impact on how you process stress.
When we’re anxious, our breathing tends to be shallow and irregular which makes it hard to get more air in. Diaphragmatic breathing using slower, longer breaths from your belly allows more air to flow into your body. Calming your nerves, levelling out stress, and helping you focus on the conversation at hand.
Inhale through your nose for four seconds
Exhale gently through your mouth for six seconds
Fill your stomach with air, feel it expand and empty with each breath
"Excuse me? Do you know how much a polar bear weighs? Enough to break the ice. Hi, I'm…."
But seriously, be yourself and if being you means corny icebreakers then I hope we get paired up some day! If not, here’s some short and sweet examples to get the ball rolling.
What brought you to the event?
Have you done this before?
What part of the world are you in?
7. Get curious, ask questions, and then ask more.
Practice active listening. Allow the conversation to flow naturally and use what they say as an anchor to pose questions. It’s handy to have their bio on screen too, that way if you feel stuck, you can ask them about something you saw on their socials.
Here are some questions to have in your arsenal. These can also be helpful to bear in mind if you sense your match feels apprehensive or a little shy.
Is there anything going on that you’d like to Soundboard or get perspective on?
Have you got any projects or adventures on the horizon?
I see you like music from your bio, what festivals and gigs are you dreaming about right now?
You’re an ultimate frisbee champion, how did you get into that?
Try consciously practicing with friends, family or colleagues that you're already comfortable with. Practice reading your bio out loud at least once. Get into the habit of asking more questions with friends and family, see how that feels. Actively listen. These are all skills that get better with practice and you can improve them over time.
We can’t wait to meet you!
If you are taking part, and this makes you nervous, congrats for getting out of your comfort zone. With discomfort comes growth so just know that by taking part you’re already becoming a more skilled conversationalist. Just know that the community and people who attend these events are SO open and genuine, you’re going to have a ball!