Make a Great First Impression – How To

You have between 5 and 30 seconds to make an impact. Here are some tips about how to get it right.

Every day, in business and social situations, every person you meet sizes you up within the first few seconds. They form impressions about who you are, and what you think, and how you are likely to act. And once those impressions are set in their minds they are difficult to change.

An impression is a simple, primal response—one that is formed instinctively, seldom based on rational thought and independent investigation and takes a shockingly short amount of time to gel. We allow first impressions to color the information we gather about people, presuming that the way they initially behave or appear is indicative of the way they will always behave.

As studies show, one of the problems is that we tend to focus too much on our words and that only 30% of a first impression is based on what you have to say – (not to mention your experience, expertise and credentials). While 40% is based on your appearance and body language and 30% on tone of voice.

For Example, individuals dressed in dark colors are judged to be more competent, but less friendly than those dressed in lighter or autumn colors. With good posture, you are assumed to be more confident. A weak voice can signal lack of confidence or inexperience. When it comes to attire, if your dress is trendy, you’ll likely be judged as younger, hip and creative but less competent—while classic dress signals qualities of dependability, seriousness and trustworthiness.

Therefore, when it comes to the art of making a great impression, it’s important to understand the communication that you’re physical presence is making — and how others see you. To ace that interview or first date, use these tips to make your first impressions positive and memorable.

Dress appropriately. Regardless of age, attire appropriate to the occasion is important. Someone too casually dressed can be considered inappropriate. Conversely, being overdressed can stand out just as much—as perhaps trying too hard to make a strong impression. When it comes to dressing, knowing your audience is the most important rule.

Dress authentically. To create trust, it’s important to to also be sending out a congruent message so that who you are on the inside is evident on the outside. The trick is to express your personality and individual style while presenting yourself in a way that meets the expectations of those you wish to impress.

Exude confidence (sans arrogance). Posture is the number one indicator of confidence, so think of having a dancer’s spine and in professional settings, a solid handshake is a primary body-language tell-all and another way to convey confidence.

Speak clearly. A clean delivery is everything when to comes to making a verbal impact, so the experts advise—somewhat obviously—eliminating um and like form your repertoire.

Be personable. Direct eye contact and an engaging smile are also considered crucial in initial encounters and ask opening questions to engage your listeners.

At best, our appearance should be a reflection of our personality and who we are as individuals. At its worst, it can be an unconscious misrepresentation that sends out sabotaging messages. To be successful in your business as well as social and personal life, you must first understand how you’re being perceived by others and then manage that impression to your best advantage.

Remember that first impressions are powerful and lasting — so make a practice of asking yourself, “what impression do I intend to make today?”.