What impression do you think you are making?
You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so you need to get it right. Let’s look at a few key things when it comes to making a great first impression:
Remember that 93% of our communication is non-verbal. It’s not all about the words you choose, although these are also important. It’s what we are NOT saying that people are making their initial judgement on (and it is a judgement). So when we first meet someone our appearance and body language is incredibly important.
Think about the first few words or sentences carefully. Remember 7 seconds allows you to say around 12 words (depending on the speed of speech). Make it about the other person. Using an opening sentence such as “Thank you for taking the time to see me”, or “It’s great to meet you, thanks for meeting me today”. If you are presenting to a bigger audience, do the same thing. Thank them for their attendance and time.
Use the other person’s name immediately. This sends a message on an unconscious level that you value that person and you are focused on them.
Walking with purpose. How do you walk into a room? Are you energised and feeling focused or do you walk a slowly and without purpose? What impression are you giving? (remember 93% is non-verbal). You want to be making an entrance that is energised and purposeful.
The Handshake. This may seem an obvious one to mention. A firm handshake whilst giving the person eye contact is absolutely key when meeting someone for the first time. A limp or half hearted greeting whilst looking away is not going to help you make a strong and effective impression.
Hair and Shoes also need to be considered. I know it might seem a little superficial saying that the way someone’s hair looks and the shoes they wear can have an impact on first impressions, but it is true. If you met someone for the first time and they were wearing a smart suit but their hair needed some attention and their shoes were scruffy, you would be making a judgement.
Matching body language to the verbal message. Think about being as congruent and authentic as possible. Smile, give eye contact and stand with confidence. Use well thought out language and have clarity in your message.