How to Make That First Impression Count
In a previous post, we talked about the importance of making a good impression. Although it might have seemed like I was preaching to the choir, however, sometimes we can be caught off guard by a surprise introduction. Worse still, we can fall into the trap of thinking that making an impression on some first encounters is not that important. Not so. We are going to leave an impression one way or another, and so it may as well be a lasting, positive impression.
This is the first of a two-part post on “how to make a good first impression.”
Read on and feel free to add your own comments in the comments box at the end of the post.
Be on Time
Time is probably the most expensive commodity we have. We can lose many things and replace them. Mostly replaced at a cost but they can be replaced. However, time is that one thing that when it´s gone, it´s gone. No matter what you do, if you lose an hour in the morning, you can search for it all day but it´s not coming back. You´ve spent it. Non-refundable.
What starts out wrong ends up wrong and if your day has started out wrong by being late for an appointment, this is going to be one long wrong day.
There are cultural variations on the importance of punctuality, as some cultures choose a more fluid approach to timekeeping but I just can´t get used to that style. You don´t have to be annoyingly early but you should be there with time to spare. All in all, it´s about resepcting the time that the other person has allocated to see you.
When you are meeting someone for the first time, let them see the real you. Don´t try to be someone else or something that you are not. The key here is to be authentic and make them like you for who you are and not someone who is masquerading as something they are not. It´s only a matter of time before the real you will come through, so you might as well let it shine from the beginning. Practice showcasing the positive attributes that you have and don´t draw attention to your weaker areas. People will work these out for themselves. By all means be honest, just don´t do yourself an injustice by focusing on the negatives.
Watch Your Body Language
Although we will be looking at body language in greater detail later on in the book, it would be wrong not to place emphasis on how important it is during first encounters. Keep you posture open and relaxed. Don´t sit rigid in your seat with your arms and legs crossed and neither should you hunch yourself up or lounge back. Lean forward to engage in conversation and look the person you are talking to in the eye.
Control Your Nerves
During interviews, presentations and other occasions that call upon speaking in front of others, it´s natural to feel nervous. Relax. You may well be nervous but fidgeting, rushing and speaking as many words as you can in one minute will only make things worse. Talking clearly and deliberately will help your audience concentrate and understand what you are saying. The more they understand, the more confident you will be, and you will find yourself more at ease with the situation. If you do feel an attack of nerves coming on, take some deep breaths. Inhale slowly to maximum capacity and exhale at a slow pace. This will help stop your heart beating so fast and help you concentrate on the task at hand.
Speed and Tone
The speed at which we speak and the intonation we use are key to effective communication. Too fast and people may miss important parts of the message, too monotone and your audience will switch off. This is of particular importance if you are communicating to someone who doesn´t share your native language. Varying the speed and moderating your tone, while speaking clearly will help you get your message across to your audience. Choose your words carefully. Using culturally specific slang, use of abbreviations and jargon based around your industry or department that others may not be aware of will lose your audience. If you are not sure how clear your communications are, test yourself. Record a five-minute speech and play it back. Listen to the number of ums and aghs and other filler words that you have used. Chances are you will be shocked.
Attitude might not be everything, but it certainly helps with everything that goes to make a good, positive first impression. At some point in our lives most of us will be involved in encounters in which we receive criticism or negative feedback. This negative feedback could come from a first meeting a new boss, a customer, a sales call or a business presentation. Try to view these situations objectively and don´t take anything personal. Remain professional, contribute appropriately and acknowledge any suggestions or advice you are given for improvements. It will say a lot about you and leave a positive impression.
If you have any questions or anything to add, drop a comment in the box below and I will get back to you in no time at all