First Impressions really matter!

You might think they don’t but they do, always have done and always will. We get bombarded with information all day every day – from the media, internet, colleagues, friends & family etc and our systems are geared up to filter out the majority of it, so we only retain what we need to survive.

So the question is how do you survive the filtering out process and become important enough to be retained? Well, you’d better not let them forget you before they even get to know you – hence making your first impression count!

  1. Make eye contact. Before you extend your hand in greeting make sure you have made eye contact. This lets the other person know that you acknowledge them. Without eye contact the initial non-verbal communication there is no recognition that you are going to interact.
  2. Firm hand shake and state your name. This creates an immediate level of rapport. Failure to do so makes one party feel rejected even though this was unlikely to have been the intention.
  3. Ask their name. Stating your own name as well as asking theirs is absolutely critical in any interaction, if you want to make a good first impression and build rapport.
  4. Be confident. Project confidence as this has a huge impact on people’s perception of you. People will be more influenced by the degree of confidence that you display rather than the content of your communications.
  5. Speak slowly. This prevents you from getting tongue-tied or having awkward pauses. Slow deliberate speech projects a strong sense of professionalism, charisma and is more enjoyable and easier to listen to. Use short sentences too.
  6. Smile. When you smile at people they ae very likely to smile back, which makes them feel engaged with you and feeling as though they are having fun.
  7. Have steady eye contact. When you look people in the eye when you are talking to people gives the impression that you know what you’re talking about. It also makes them pay attention to you.
  8. Avoid pausing language. Avoid using noises like “um” or “ah” or “like” or other modern slang. Doing so makes you  seem unprofessional.
  9. Use positive language. Avoid phrases such as etc, etc. as these will undermine the strength of your argument and create a negative impression of you.
  10. Posture. Sit or stand straight with your chest slightly out and shoulders back. This communicates confidence and adds to the perception that you are confident and smart.
  11. Body Language.  Avoid fast or fidgety body movement. This is distracting. Use careful and deliberate movements of your body to accentuate points you are making.
  12. Relax and enjoy. When you appear relaxed you encourage your audience to do likewise, this makes it feel like more fun, for you and them – this too adds to the positive perception of your confidence and capability. If people enjoy talking to you it increases the chances of them doing it again and to remember you.

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