How to introduce yourself and write your name

How do you introduce yourself?

The reason for this question is that it is sometimes a very confusing experience when people make the attempt to introduce themselves be it in formal or informal gatherings. Some give three names, which I can handle to an extent; some just give their initials and surname, which doesn’t tell who they are. On a few occasions, a smart alec would respond by saying “my names are”… And if you are in Nigeria, many people respond to the question by preceding their names with a title.

The most confusing is when people say their names and it becomes difficult to figure out which is the given name and which is the surname.

This is not a matter common to verbal introductions alone, some people as a matter of habit write their surnames first even on their business cards. This habit probably developed from school days where the surname is used as a primary key to differentiate students can be confusing and frustrating to business partners or people you are meeting for the first time.

To avoid confusion and embarrassment, the following are useful guidelines in answering the question above whether in writing or verbally:

  1. Your ‘given name’ is also known as ‘your ‘first-name’ or ‘forename’ so it makes sense for it to go ‘first’.
  1. Your inherited name otherwise known as ‘surname’ or ‘family name’ is also known as the ‘last-name’ so it goes ‘last’.
  1. The order of arrangement (applicable to most African, European, North and South American countries) is ‘first-name’ followed by ‘last-name’. In some East Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea, the order is reversed.
  1. It is also less confusing to say or write your full name, for example, ‘Dayo Adeleye’ rather than ‘J. Adeleye’. Remember ‘J’ is an initial not your name.
  1. You may give an impression of arrogance or grandstanding if you precede your name with a title when introducing yourself. A title is a title, not part of your name and should only normally be used when specifically requested.
  1. However much you may love your middle-name, there is never a need to give your middle name when you introduce yourself except when you are getting married or being sworn in as the President of your country.
  1. Similarly, a middle-name is not a necessity on a business card or when completing an attendance form, say at a seminar. Keep business cards simple and focused on what you are offering.
  1. You may of course write your middle name if specifically requested in a form.
  1. If you have to introduce someone else, you may use their title and both names or just title and surname. For example Mrs Tricia Emeka or Mrs Emeka. In other words, title and first-names do not usually go together except when the person you are introducing is a knight in which case you introduce them as Sir Richard or Sir Richard Branson but never Sir Branson.
  1. Finally, it’s not Anan Kofi, it’s Kofi Anan; It’s not Soyinka Wole, it’s Wole Soyinka; It’s not Mandela Nelson, it’s Nelson Mandela. Don’t forget: first-name first, and last-name last.

We all benefit when we ‘say’ things right!