What does a great first impression consist of and how do we make them.
An impression is the effect an object or thing has on it’s environment after it is no longer present. An Asteroid leaves a crater, an artist leaves an impression in the soul.
Top tip: Be like the artist…
There are a lot of things that go into making the perfect first impression. Nearly all are under your control, or to some extent influenced by you. So lets begin with the factors you can manage.
Appearance – It goes without saying, but a well turned out person; who carries themselves with confidence and self respect will nearly always make a good first impression. See to it, that if you plan to meet someone or suspect you will, make the effort to tidy yourself up and give the best representation of yourself. Disregard this advice if your name is Mark Zuckerberg and just turn up in a dressing gown…
Social Rituals/Cliches – Another obvious, but often overlooked hurdle in the first impression rule book is the presence of a firm handshake or similar social gesture. The french offer a cheek and the Japanese bow. Different cultures and social settings call for differing levels of appropriate social ritual. If in doubt, lead with a handshake!
The HALO/HORNS – Within ten seconds of meeting a new person, that individual will have made several initial judgments. Based on what they see, hear and feel. A mixture of verbal and non verbal communications will be computed. Often to confirm biases, opinions or self held beliefs. This is a factor that has as much control as luck. You could be nothing but polite and respectful in an initial meeting and not be liked by another person. Solely down to their own self held beliefs and biases. While this is a rare event, we can have some control over this. The best defense against negative judgement in the initial moments of meeting someone is to push the exchange to about 80%/20% talk from you. By that, I mean introduce yourself and your reason for being there, then ask thoughtful and relevant questions. Always address them by their name in this initial stage. It will disarm them and completely sever any inference judgments the person would otherwise make.
Priming – Priming is a technique used in all manner of things in order to lubricate your mind and warm you to something or someone. In a social setting, priming is as simple as an MC introducing a performer. It could be a car company showing you images of exciting and freeing locations and adventures to make you correlate cars and freedom as mutual things, before showing you the price! In a first impression scenario however, being introduced by a mutual contact or friend, is enough to prime the other person. They will have no doubt been told good, positive and reassuring things about you. This bypasses a lot of the HALO/HORNS and/or unconscious biases being sought. Remember also, when you are introducing someone; a positive and light-hearted but reassuring introduction will suffice. This short but relaxed approach, gives a solid start point for their conversation to take place. Plus you will be seen as the very friendly, helpful, honest and witty person who brought people together!
Personal Space – This one is the single biggest ‘bad impression’ behaviour. We have all met someone or know of someone who is a bit too forward, over-familiar or inappropriate when in a social setting. If you are ever in doubt, remember the following:
- Do not touch someone after shaking hands. Unless you saving them from a venomous animal…
- Resist all temptation to make a joke or comment that would make someone uncomfortable, awkward or blush.
- Scientifically, ‘personal space’ starts at eighteen inches and finishes at four feet. If it is too loud or too crowded, take it outside or elsewhere. Trust me, no one wants to talk into your ear…
Your Legacy – By this, I mean the positive and/or negative memories you leave your acquaintance with. Having a short but interesting conversation. An exciting yet unfinished discussion or perhaps just a mutual love of something. These are all positive legacies that you can re-kindle. The person will be left with fond memories and hopefully a new connection they wish to spend more time and energy getting to know.
“I met this gentlemen/lady at the company day out at the races the other day, we spoke about X and I was blown away by how much money we are leaving on the table at the moment.” – Leave someone with questions, they will come to you for the answers…
To finish, I would suggest that every time you talk to a new acquaintance, be confident that when you part company; there is a conversation or promise that the other person wants to fulfill with you.
“Leave them wanting more and you know they’ll call back.”
Bobby Womack – American Singer/Songwriter
For more public speaking advice, follow our page and receive weekly articles. Alternatively, please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com for coaching and assistance!